Average Linux User
You can make Xfce look modern and beautiful with these themes.
Unless you use a Linux distribution that comes with a modern desktop skin, the Xfce default theme and icons do not look modern and attractive. Maybe such a desktop looked nice a decade ago, but today in 2017, there is a need for a better-looking Xfce. You can make Xfce look modern if you install some extra desktop themes and icons packs.
Before going elsewhere, check out what you have in the repositories of your distribution. For example, in Debian and Debian-based distributions, you can find some appealing themes if you search for -theme in the Synaptic package manager. If you use another package manager, search for themes there.
Not all of the packages you find are nice-looking but many of them are worth considering. For example, these themes can make your Xfce look better already:
Search for them and install.
I also usually install lightdm-gtk-greeter-settings to configure the theme of the login display. Most of the Linux distributions use lightDM as a display manager for the Xfce desktops. If you are unsure that your Linux distribution is using lightDM, you can check it with the following commands:
To make your Xfce look better indeed, you need to search for artwork at Xfce-look.org. There are many interesting solutions, but there is also as much of outdated junk. So, you will need to spend some time before you find something worthy.
I usually search the greatest and some trending themes by clicking on the Latest and Greatest tabs. Also, I suggest you scroll down and have a look at the top downloads during the last three months (3 Months Ranking widget on the right). Select whatever you like the most.
I find attractive the following themes:
Most of the theme and icons you download from Xfce-look.org are packaged in archives (file name ends with tar.gz, tgz, zip etc.). You can install these themes in two ways with the ocs-url program or manually.
For instructions on how to install themes with the ocs-url program, click on the question mark next to the Install button. This approach seems to be easier, but it does not work correctly all the time.
I prefer installing themes and icons manually. Not only this approach makes my system less loaded with an unnecessary program (I mean ocs-url program here), but it also gives me more control over my system. I know where and what is installed. So, I can remove any theme and be sure that it will not leave any remnants on my system.
To install an Xfce theme or icon set manually, do the following:
mkdir ~/.icons ~/.themes
The Paper Icons I mentioned above is little different from all the other themes. It comes in a deb package. To install it you need to use the dpkg program. Run in the terminal:
sudo dpkg -i paper-*.deb
It will install both the icon and desktop themes. If you want to install any other theme than the Paper themes, use the same command but replace paper-*.deb with the name of your downloaded deb file.
To activate your newly installed theme you need to go to Menu -> Settings -> Appearance.
In the tab Style, you can select any of the desktop themes. For example, if you installed all the themes I listed above, you should see the themes: Arc, Arc-Dark, Arc-Darker, Numix, Paper.
In the Icon tab, you should see the icons: Moka, Numix, Numix Light, Flat Remix, La Capitan, Paper, Paper-Mono-Dark.
In addition, you need to navigate to a different place in the Settings to change the windows borders. Go to Settings -> Window Manager. In the tab Style, select a matching theme for your windows borders. You should see such themes as Arc, Arc-Dark, Arc-Darker, Numix, Pape and the Axiom theme. The Axiom theme included only windows borders, so it does not show anywhere else except the windows borders settings.
The last step is to configure the login display theme. Go to Settings -> LightDM Settings and select a matching theme. You can also change a wallpaper and avatar icon for the login screen.
To make sure that all the themes and icons are properly loaded, logout from your system and login back. You can also reboot the system.
If some of the icon themes show this warning:
Run the following command in the terminal:
But of course change yourIconsTheme to your icons theme name. This should fix an issue and remove the warning.
Any theme will look even better with a matching wallpaper. Go to Settings -> Desktop -> Background and change your wallpaper.
Now you know that with some effort you can indeed make your Xfce look modern and beautiful. Moreover, with extra effort you can even make it look gorgeous.
In summary, you need to follow these steps:
You can tweak it even further with the DockBarX panel and drop-down terminal.
I made this tutorial using Debian Xfce, and it comes with that default ancient-looking Xfce theme shown at the top of this article. But if you try some other Linux distributions, they may have some modern-looking Xfce themes.
I like the default look of Linux Mint, Xubuntu, MX Linux. But the leading Xfce distribution in terms of themes is Manjaro Xfce. I wish Xfce default look was something like Manjaro’s Xfce theme.
What is your favorite Xfce theme and icons? Please, comment below.
18 Jul 2017