Changing your Ubuntu 18 theme 🎨

Geoffrey Mahugu
May 7, 2019 · 6 min read

Let’s face it, Ubuntu isn’t the prettiest girl on the block. She may have all the ideal features, but she ain’t pretty 💃🏻

In this article, I’m going to show you how you can install themes and customize your PC. This is what I finally ended up with 👇

This will the final look

Why change your theme? 🤔

1. Options/Varieties

Apart from the default gnome theme, there are a lot more other themes that you can choose from. No need to stick to the default generic theme that comes with your ubuntu os.

2. Productivity

With theme editing, you will be able to modify your user interface to enhance your productivity. Simple things like having your clock at the right spot or notifications pop up from a certain position of the screen can go a long way in enhancing your productivity.

3. Beauty and Aesthetic

I’m a firm believer in beauty and doing things from your 💜. By editing your theme to your liking, it will inspire you to be able to create extraordinary things

Let’s get to it

This is how your default theme looks like. Not inspiring right? 😐

Default gnome theme

1. Installing Gnome-Tweak

The first thing to do is to update our local packages then upgrade them to the latest versions. You can do both by running this command:

$ sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

Gnome-tweaks will provide us with a user interface that helps us: modify the appearance of our operating system, change font-sizes, customize our keyboard and mouse, amongst other features.

This is the command that lets you install it:

$ sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Let’s launch the app 🚀:

$ gnome-tweaks

2. Install Gnome-Tweaks Extensions

Before we can install the themes, we need a few more things. Those will include extensions for the gnome tweaks.

let’s go to

This ☝️ is where you will be able to get all the gnome extensions. However, you will be met by this 👇error message:

We cannot detect a running copy of GNOME on this system, so some parts of the interface may be disabled. See our troubleshooting entry for more information.

Don’t panic 😌, this can be solved by a matter of installing the gnome chrome extension from this Download Link or install it from the terminal with this command:

$ sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions

After installing, you will need to restart the gnome-tweaks.

Then after, you will be able to install any extension from the terminal with a simple command. To know which packages are available for installation, we can do a search with this command:

$ sudo apt search gnome-shell-extension

Then install a selected extension e.g:

$ sudo apt install gnome-shell-extension-better-volume

After installing the extensions, you will be able to do more customizations with your gnome-tweaks. Here are some of the extensions that we will need:

i. User Themes: This extension will help us load themes from our PC.

Themes are stored in the folder ~/.themes while icons are stored in the ~/.icons folder. Create them if they are not available.

ii. Panel OSD : This extension will help us move the location of our notifications to the bottom right corner, thus reducing destruction from popup notifications.

$ sudo apt search gnome-shell-extension

You can install more extensions at gnome-extensions

3. Installing themes

All the themes and icons can be found at the official gnome-looks site. There are many beautiful themes that you can choose from, however, I will be using my favourite theme (Flat Remix) as a demo to show you how you can install yours.

go to:

Select the files section and download one of the packages:

After downloading your theme. Go to this directory:

$ ~/.themes

If the file does not exist, create it.

Copy the downloaded zipped folder from your directory ~/.downloads and unpack it in the folder ~/.themes. Ensure the files are unpacked correctly in such a way like:

$ ~/.themes/Flat-Remix-GTK-Dark/index.theme

Ensuring that after the name of the folder that contains the theme, the index.themefile can be accessed, otherwise, the theme will not be picked up and thus will not work. Close your gnome-tweak then launch it again(restart).

Let’s go the Appearance section then select on the theme that we had installed. On the shell section, choose one of the options from the theme.

Select your theme

4. Installing icons

All icons can be found at the official gnome site. For this demo, we will be using the Flat Remix Icons: Download Link

After downloading the icons, copy the zipped file to this location:

$ ~/.icons

If the directory doesn’t exist, create it. As before, make sure the files are unpacked correctly.

Restart your gnome-tweaks then on the Appearance section, select the icon theme that you downloaded; in my case, that will be the Flat Remix Icon.

We are almost there 😺

Customizing your Terminal

The default terminal is o.k but we can do much better than o.k. For this, we are going to install oh-my-zsh by @robbyrussell.

‘Oh My Zsh will not make you a 10x developer…but you might feel like one.’ — : oh-my-zsh

Installing oh-my-zsh:

$ sudo apt install zsh

Now that you have it installed, let’s make it our default terminal. We can do that by running this command:

$ chsh -s $(which zsh)

In order for us to install beautiful fonts 🎨 onto our zsh terminal, we will have to install Powerline fonts. To do so, run this command:

$ sudo apt install fonts-powerline

After installing, let’s change the theme to a more soothing one by agnoster. For this, we will require to edit this file:

$ vi ~/.zshrc

After saving your file, reload your terminal to pick up the new updates and you are done. 😍

Just in case you don’t see any of the changes, try to restart your PC. The wallpaper I used can be found at Download Link

Follow me on Twitter at @GeoffreyMahugu.

Have fun Theme Editing, and feel free to share your final results 😀

Geoffrey Mahugu

Written by

Software Developer| Opensource contributor | Block-chain & Artificial Intelligence enthusiast | Love Angular

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade