Linux is a great operating system in every way. And when it comes to customization, well, it’s the best. While on other OS like Windows, you’re only allowed to change desktop wallpaper and a color scheme, in Linux, well you can change every nook and corner you would like — Wallpapers, Fonts, Themes, Shadows, Icons or complete Desktop Environment.
Linux distributions like Ubuntu, Fedora and LinuxMint have apps like Ubuntu Tweak Tool and GNOME Tweak Tool which allow you to install a theme and activate it on one click.
In this tutorial I’ll tell you about four ways you can customize your Linux distribution.
Install Tweak Tools
First, you’ll need to install right tools. Tweak tools are used to change themes, fonts and icons. You can alter hot-corners, change behavior of icons and edit colors. With tweak tools, you can install more extensions, applets and configure panels.
On Ubuntu, you can install Unity tweak tool as Ubuntu comes with Unity as its desktop interface. You can install it with the following command:
sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool
On Fedora, you can install GNOME Tweak Tool, which is used to configure settings on GNOME Desktop Environment. Install it with the following command:
sudo dnf install tweak-tool
To change fonts, you’ll need to install some fonts you would like to activate on your desktop. Changing fonts is a great idea if you’re uncomfortable with default fonts — Ubuntu font family on Ubuntu and Cantrell on Fedora — or if you just don’t like them.
You can download free fonts from various sources, most popular being:
- Google Fonts: Select as many fonts as you would like by clicking ‘Add To Collection’ button right next to each font. Download them all by clicking Download button (down arrow) at top of all the fonts on right side.
- FontSquirrel: Open any font and download OTF or TTF.
Once you’ve downloaded the fonts and unzipped the file you’ve downloaded, you can install it. First way is opening every font file and clicking ‘Install font’ on it. But it’s not much friendly way if you’ve a lot of fonts to install. Instead what you should do is create a `.fonts` folder in your
Home directory, i.e.
~/.fonts. You can copy your extracted folder as it is in this folder and it would work just fine.
Now open Tweak Tool and change the font. You’ll find this setting in Appearance section, possibly.
Install Desktop Environments
This is for more advanced ones. By default, Ubuntu comes with Unity desktop environment and Fedora comes with GNOME. LinuxMint is available in many desktop environments and you can choose which one to download. Many users don’t like the default desktop environments and it’s fine. You can change it.
First, if you’re well aware of the difference between GNOME and Unity, and like GNOME over Unity but want to use Ubuntu and not Fedora which is using essentially GNOME desktop, you can download Ubuntu GNOME Edition. However, if you’ve Ubuntu installed and would like to install GNOME within it, without reinstalling the complete operating system, just run following commands:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install gnome-shell sudo apt-get install ubuntu-gnome-desktop
And now log out and select the DE while signing in again. It’ll install GNOME Shell and GNOME Desktop in your Ubuntu. Also, you can look at the derivatives beforehand, if you’ve an experience with other desktop environments and are looking for a specific one:
- Lubuntu: Uses LXDE which is a minimal and light weight desktop environment.
- Xubuntu: USes XFCE which is stable, light and configurable desktop environment.
- Kubuntu: It uses KDE Plasma.
If you’re on Fedora, you can desktop environment to any other environment. Or you can choose spins like:
- Fedora KDE Plasma Desktop: It uses KDE instead of GNOME and other software offered by KDE like Calligra – an integrated office suite built on KDE Platform – instead of LibreOffice.
- Fedora Xfce Desktop: This spin uses the Xfce desktop, which aims to be fast and lightweight, while still being visually appealing and user-friendly.
ne of the coolest thing you can do to customize your desktop is installing themes. You can get a lot of great themes on GNOME-Look.org. You can download themes for GNOME Shell, GTK, Ubuntu desktops. Also, you can sort them according to ratings to find the best one for yourself. And they are not like Windows themes, that change just the wallpaper.
Once you’ve downloaded the theme, extract the archive and paste the folder in
~/.themes folder. If the folder doesn’t exist, create a folder
Home directory. Directories starting with a period are hidden by default. You can view them using Ctrl + Shift + H.
Now you can select and activate the theme you’ve downloaded from the tweak tool.
Not only themes for desktop, you can also install Icon themes. If you’ve ever tried to change icons on Windows, you’ll find it a lot difficult as you’ll have to change each icon from its settings. Also, the icons pinned to task-bar and only changed.
But things are different and a lot better in Linux. You can install Icon Themes and most icon themes come with hundreds and thousand of icons including the popular apps, and other system icons. You can find great icon fonts on GNOME-Look.org.
For themes and icon themes, you can also browse Deviant Art.
You can install a number of great extensions on your system, particularly for GNOME 3 Desktop Environment.
GNOME Shell has lots of addons and plugins for extensibility of the desktop environment. GNOME Shell Extensions range from weather reporting, system monitoring to music player indicators.
Read Must Have GNOME Shell Extensions for Fedora & Ubuntu GNOME Desktop for more.
Well, that’s obvious. But I would still mention it because list would be incomplete without it. There’re many great websites for high quality wallpapers. Most of the websites offer wallpapers free.
Interface Lift: One of the best website when it comes to downloading wallpapers. The high quality photographs from the artists on this website will surely make your desktop look awesome.
DeviantArt: Not only themes and icons, DeviantArt is also a great source for wallpapers. The artists on DeviantArt do an amazing work. You can find wallpapers and other art for free and paid.
Wallpapers Wide: You can find some really great and high quality wallpapers categorized from animals to architecture and computers to vintage. It’s a massive collection of great artistic work.
So, these were 6 easy and great ways to customize your Linux desktop, whether it’s Ubuntu or Fedora completely using Themes, Icon themes, desktop environments and wallpapers. What’s your favorite theme and icon theme? And What other ways you use to customize your Linux desktop?