Friday, July 21, 2006

Playing with New Themes in Linux

Enrich your Linux desktop with new Themes

You already know to how to change various Linux desktop themes and screensavers and apply them in different Windowing environments such as GNOME and KDE (refer to the subjected article in previous issues of LFY). There are handful of default themes and screensavers pre-installed in your Linux system. If you are not content enough with these default themes then you can always install many more. There are hundreds of them freely available to download and use. Here is how to install and effectively use many more themes in KDE and GNOME.

Download new themes

You need to download freely available themes from various sites. There are different, platform specific sites which hosts themes of every genre for your download. For GNOME, you can download themes from http://art.gnome.org. Here, the themes are organized in different sections and you can download the specific themes for Login Manager, Splash screens, Windo borders, Application and Icon etc. Similarly, you can download KDE specific themes from http://www.kde-look.org or from http://kde.theme.org. Most of the Linux themes on these sites are distributed for free use. You can also find some of these in LFY CDs. You can download Linux themes from some other sources as well, such as http://themes.freshmeat.net/, http://www.linuxforum.com/ and http://wmtheme.sourceforge.net/. Generally these themes are available as compressed tar files having extensions like tar.gz or tar.bz2. You do not need to decompress these files, since they are generally decompressed and loaded dynamically through GNOME and KDE's scheme loading interfaces. Simply put these files in a safe directory to avoid accidentally deletion.

Installing themes in GNOME

To install themes in GNOME, click on Start button on your GNOME desktop. Then go to Preferences, and then click on Theme button. In the window that appears, you will see various currently installed themes. To add your newly downloaded theme, click on 'Install Theme' button. Now select the theme file which you had download by browsing through your filesystem. In GNOME, you may not see Apply / OK dialog buttons as these settings are applied dynamically as you select an item.

You can mix n match various themes. For example, you can use window borders of one theme and icons of another and colour from yet another. For this, in Theme Preferences window, click on Theme Details button. You will be presented with list of different installed themes for different category i.e. Controls, Window Border and Icon. Select the one each from appropriate category and you will have an entirely new theme for your GNOME desktop. Though, for a real attractive effect, you need to experiment a little.

Installing themes in KDE

Installing theme in KDE is somehow tricky. The color schemes are simple text files having extensions like *.kcsrc containing details of window colours. Similarly, there are Icon theme files for Icon and Splash screen theme files for KDE splash screen theme. These are installed saperately. To install these in KDE, click on Start button on KDE desktop, go to Preferences then click on Control Center. In the window that appears, go to Appearance & Themes. Click on plus (+) sign beside it or click on Appearance & Themes to expand this menu. You will see various options there. Now click on Colors. To add new color scheme, click on “Import Scheme...” button on righ pan. Now select the color scheme file that normally have (but not necessarily) *.kcsrc extensions. Then click on OK. Your new colour screen is now applied. Similarly, to install new icons and splash screen themes, clik on respective menu on Control Center's Appearance & Themes menu, and select the appropriate, downloaded files from the displayed dialog. Unlike GNOME, you need to click on Apply button to apply the selected theme in KDE.

Installing theme background

As you have seen here, themes for different environments have different ways of installations. Further, you may not find any background for some scheme. But you can always add your own background image file to be used as scheme. For this, simply copy background image files to a directory of your choice. However, for the background images to be available to all users, you must copy the image files to the default directory which may be /usr/share/backgrounds/images and for KDE specific background images, it may be /usr/share/apps/kdedesktop/patterns/. As usual, you can change individual background images that matches your mood and installed theme. Some high quality, stunning images for your desktop background in nearly all available subject are also available to download in the above stated URLs.

In our next series, we will learn to how to change and apply different sound scheme in different environments. Till then happy themes!

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