Simple Desktop Enhancements

Ubuntu Linux comes with brown. Why brown you might ask? This color fits more with what the word ‘Ubuntu’ means. It reflects humanity and mother earth better than any other color. For those reasons I’ve used the default theme for weeks back then with 5.10 Breezy Badger. But after a while, consistently using my portable, consistently modifying applications, preferences and configuration files I found it was time to use other themes, colors and backgrounds.Who ever read my previous posts knows by now that Ubuntu Linux is a very transparent distribution. It doesn’t takes ages and doesn’t requires you to be a whiz kid in order to understand it’s workings. Though it’s so transparent I didn’t find it a reason to be modifying appearance with the terminal. I wanted to be able to change as much as possible while hardly using a terminal, The Gimp and other tools.In this Absolute Beginners Guide I will explain how you can easily change things as:

  • Backgrounds
  • Window themes
  • Login Manager themes
  • Splash screen themes

But no only that. I will also tell you how to find them. With this information you will be able to customize your Linux installation in no time. As for me, Ubuntu is in my heart and my contribution efforts. So I don’t feel sorry abandoning the colors.

  • Where to find them?

The most popular form of Desktop enhancements are backgrounds. Now, while a lot of people find backgrounds being plain pictures or digital creations I’ve made an hobby out of it. By checking numerous websites almost daily I search and save backgrounds I like. For me a background must apply to certain criteria. Why? Because I don’t want to get hyped by a background and it must match with the rest of my enhancements.For instance I hardly download backgrounds which are mostly white or light-gray. This color, when using only the terminal or some small view size application burns your eyes out after a while. So almost all of my backgrounds are a combination of dark and or neutral colors.Where do I find them? I mostly download them from DeviantArt. This by far the largest community which features a configurable gallery sorting resolutions, subjects and more. For people who can think logical or just know enough French to navigate around Hebus is also a nice resource. Being the same type of community as DeviantArt, Hebus is a bit smaller and a lot of backgrounds are not available in high resolutions. But also Google can help find you specific artists. Pixelgirl Presents is an artist website I found. There you can find a lot of very high resolution wallpapers.But it would be a sin to forget about our own community. Also Linux related websites provide wallpapers and other Desktop enhancements, so let’s name them!When it comes to downloading it all our own community resources have more of everything rather than more of one specific subject. offers not only backgrounds but also Application themes, Window Border themes, Icons, Login Manager themes, Splash screens and even whole GTK+ is a much larger gathering. But the downside is… it’s indeed more KDE oriented, rather than Gnome. But you will still be able to find quite some enhancements only please note that not all enhancements are usable for Gnome.

  • How to install them?

After you have found some interesting stuff of everything it’s time to get them installed. Don’t worry about terminal commands and difficult CLI interpretations. These enhancements are going to be installed using special applications.Installing another background shouldn’t be a problem. When you are looking at your desktop it’s just clicking right with your mouse and selecting ‘Change Desktop Background’. This is usually one of my first enhancements when reinstalling Ubuntu or getting bored of my theme.My second step is almost always changing the Login Manager theme. There’s really no need to follow the enhancements in an particular order anyway. In order to change a Login Manager you have to open a terminal. There execute the following command:sudo gdmsetupAfter a couple of seconds waiting a graphical application appears. This is your Graphical Display Manager setup utility. In the ‘local’ tab you can add and select Login managers to be activated. After adding one and selecting it you are done. You can test your new Login Manager by logging out. It will bring you right up to it.In order to be able to select and switch from Splash screens we need to download a small application using Synaptic. If you are more skilled, try the Terminal and use ‘apt-get install <filename>’. The application we need to add is being called ‘gnome-splashscreen-manager. It might be Synaptic won’t find it at first. In that case not all your included Ubuntu repositories are enabled. If so, go to: settings -> repositories -> addMake sure you select both Universe and Multiverse when (re)adding channels to the repository. After you’ve done that, try again to search for ‘gnome-splashscreen-manager’. Once you’ve downloaded it you will find it under:System -> Preferences -> Splash ScreenThe application works very simple. So it shouldn’t be a problem.If you like the Human Gnome Theme but you’ve had it with brown? Let’s open the Themes:System -> Preferences -> ThemesWhen you scroll down you will see various themes including the Human theme. You can always select a totally different theme. But the Human theme remains one of the newest themes. A lot of other themes really let you see how Gnome looked a few years back. On the right you can always choose ‘Theme details’. There you can choose how windows should look like, which icons should be used and Window Borders there should be used. Within one minute, you’ll have it customized.You can also add more themes for Gnome, Screen Splashes and Login Managers using Synaptic. But that’s your homework.So now let’s see. The login manager looks way better. When logging in a totally different Splash Screen greets us and the background rocks. These are some Absolute Beginner tips on enhancing your Ubuntu installation.

5 thoughts on “Simple Desktop Enhancements

  1. Speaking of customization, I thought perhaps you might like to take a look at an article I wrote about Blubuntu or making your Ubuntu systemblue.

    It’s been going around for the past couple of weeks, so perhaps you saw it, but if not, check out the link. Also, perhaps your audience might appreciate this as well.

    Very informative blog, by the way.


    Brent Roos 😎

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