Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Xwindows Decorations in Linux...

Linux : Decorate your Xwindows

Fed up with ugly ¨ -¨ ¨[]¨ and ¨X¨ signs on your application windows title bar and want to change them with cute Yellow, Green and Red - round buttons? Or your xwindows default blue color disgust you and you need lovely pink all around? Fedora core 3 with its Gnome 2.8 and KDE 3.3 can give you visual treat beyond your imaginations. Only thing required here is that you have to refuse to accept whatever default settings it had provided and you are ready to experiment. In this publications earlier issues, detailed guide lines had already been published to change various aspects of windows decoration, which include font styles, wallpaper, screensaver etc. In this article, we will take a quick look to how to get new Gnome/KDE theme from Internet (or from LFY CD), install them and apply them to get great envious looks from your friends and foe alike for your Linux Desktop.

Windows Decoration Theme on Gnome 2.8 Desktop:

The steps given here are specific to Fedora Core 3 machine, however, except some distribution-specific-issues involving package installations, you can apply these to any machine having installed Gnome 2.8. Gnome 2.8 comes with about a dozen beautiful pre-installed themes. To change its default theme, click on Start menu button, go to Preferences and then select Theme. Here, you can select from a dozen already installed themes- that includes from Ocean Dreams to Smokey Blue to Thin Appearance, High Performance to Traditional Hard Edged 3D appearance. Gnome 2.8s default scheme is Blue Curve with properly balance contrast. But who cares for blue when you can have Rainbow colors on your xwindow? You can change xwindows individual settings such as Colors, Windows Decorations, Icons etc. irrespective of theme.

Note that as and when you select a theme on Gnome 2.8, it will apply on-the-fly. It will not ask you foolish, dumb question such as ¨Are you sure?¨ or even it does not ask you to click OK or Apply button to apply selected settings.

Install new theme:

You can find many new themes for Gnome from Internet downloads or from magazine CD like LFY CD, all for free. One such place in Internet is where you can find hundreds of Gnome theme. Here, you can also see themes screen shots so that you can choose the appealing ones. Depending upon the features, these files may be of size having a few hundreds bytes to several megabytes. Some Gnome 2.8 theme files maybe distribution specific such as installable RPM file for Fedora Core 3 or for Mandrake. However, if you have installed compilers and other production utility on your machine, it is always advisable to download source files. Some files are tar compressed, ready to install files. These files can be installed easily. Go to Gnome Theme preferences window, click on Install Theme... button, then on a child window that appears, click on browse button and then select the theme file you have downloaded. These files can also be installed simply by dragging them to .theme folder in users home directory. Note that Theme RPM files and Sources are not installed this way because they need to be installed as individual application. Once installed, these themes are automatically made available on Start Menu>Preferences>Theme window, where you can choose to apply.

Windows Decoration Theme on KDE 3.3 Desktop:

KDE 3.3 has its own styles and themes to offer you visual treat for your desktop decoration. KDE 3.3 comes with more than half a dozen pre-installed windows decoration theme from Redmond to System ++ to IceWM. You can get many more from hundreds across Internet from Installation is similar as described above for Gnome, and depends largely whether it is RPM, source, or ready-to-install compressed, tar files.

To change default windows decoration in KDE 3.3, Click on Start Menu button, go to Control Center and click on it. On Control Centers window that appear, click on Appearance & Theme to expand it, then click on Window Decorations. On right pan click on Window Decorations tab. Now click on dropdown arrow button right below this tab. Select the one of the theme you want to apply, and then click OK button, and finally click Apply button to take effect the changes you made. You can further customize the windows decoration here, if the selected theme provides such facility. For example, a highly popular KDE theme - Baghira has dozens of more options that includes button colors / styles, window title alignments / height, positioning of buttons, title bar effect, 3D intensity etc, which can be set individually.

Customizing KDE 3.3 theme with Theme Manager

You will find Theme Manager in KDE Start Menu > Control Center > Appearance & Theme. Click on it and on right pan you will see ¨Customize your theme¨ entry. Below it you will see Colors, Styles and Icons button among other few. To customize color of KDE desktop, click on Colors button. A new selection window will appear where all installed KDE theme will also appear. Select the one you want from Color scheme selection box and click Apply to apply changes. Here, you can change individual widget color of the selected theme from widget color dropdown selection menu. For example, if you want to change color of ¨Link¨ which is blue by default in most themes, click on Widget Color dropdown menu and select Link. Then click on Blue Color button below it. A color palate will appear where you can choose a different color. Click on the point of your choice of color on the color-pallet, refine it with color slider and then click OK and finally, click Apply to apply changes you made.

You can easily roll back to your default settings if you have messed from any where by simply clicking Default button on Theme Manager window. Therefore, you can play around with colors / styles etc. safely. But, be sure that you have not set everything to same color, such as - white, and then you will not see anything other than white on your screen!

You can repeat the process for Style and Icon theme in similar manner if you want to change them as well. And to top it all, you can mix and match various setting from across various theme. For example, you can use one set of a themes scheme such as color theme to another schemes icon theme. This way, you will end up with virtually unlimited combinations of theme in your hand to experiment upon; both in Gnome and KDE.

Screen shot descriptions:

Decoration 1: You can find hundreds of KDE Theme / Wall paper / Splash screen / Color scheme from and Gnome theme from

Decoration 2: You can get help and how to install specific theme on your Gnome / KDE desktop from themes web site.

Decoration 3: To change Xwindow theme on Gnome, go to Applications > Preferences > Theme and make appropriate changes.

Decoration 4: You can select / install theme from Gnomes Theme Preferences Window on-the-fly, with little interaction.

Decoration 5: KDEs Theme Manager lets you configure Themes Style, Effects and Other Miscellaneous settings.

Decoration 6: Through KDEs color scheme selection window you can set or change virtually any aspect of Desktop color.

Decoration 7: Konqueror window with a new, improved decorated look.

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