Brief: Let’s have a look at some of the beautiful GTK themes that you can use not only in Ubuntu but other Linux distributions that use GNOME.
For those of us that use Ubuntu proper, the move from Unity to Gnome as the default desktop environment has made theming and customizing easier than ever. Gnome has a fairly large tweaking community, and there is no shortage of fantastic GTK themes for users to choose from. With that in mind, I went ahead and found some of my favorite themes that I have come across in recent months. These are what I believe offer some of the best experiences that you can find.
Best themes for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions
This is not an exhaustive list and may exclude some of the themes you already use and love, but hopefully, you find at least one theme that you enjoy that you did not already know about. All themes present should work on any Gnome 3 setup, Ubuntu or not. I lost some screenshots so I have taken images from the official websites.
The themes listed here are in no particular order.
But before you see the best GNOME themes, you should learn how to install themes in Ubuntu GNOME.
Arc and Arc variant themes have been around for quite some time now, and are widely regarded as some of the best themes you can find. In this example, I have selected Arc-Ambiance because of its modern take on the default Ambiance theme in Ubuntu.
I am a fan of both the Arc theme and the default Ambiance theme, so needless to say, I was pumped when I came across a theme that merged the best of both worlds. If you are a fan of the arc themes but not a fan of this one in particular, Gnome look has plenty of other options that will most certainly suit your taste.
2. Adapta Colorpack
The Adapta theme has been one of my favorite flat themes I have ever found. Like Arc, Adapata is widely adopted by many-a-linux user. I have selected this color pack because in one download you have several options to choose from. In fact, there are 19 to choose from. Yep. You read that correctly. 19!
So, if you are a fan of the flat/material design language that we see a lot of today, then there is most likely a variant in this theme pack that will satisfy you.
3. Numix Collection
Ah, Numix! Oh, the years we have spent together! For those of us that have been theming our DE for the last couple of years, you must have come across the Numix themes or icon packs at some point in time. Numix was probably the first modern theme for Linux that I fell in love with, and I am still in love with it today. And after all these years, it still hasn’t lost its charm.
The gray tone throughout the theme, especially with the default pinkish-red highlight color, makes for a genuinely clean and complete experience. You would be hard pressed to find a theme pack as polished as Numix. And in this offering, you have plenty of options to choose from, so go crazy!
Hooli is a theme that has been out for some time now, but only recently came across my radar. I am a fan of most flat themes but have usually strayed away from themes that come to close to the material design language. Hooli, like Adapta, takes notes from that design language, but does it in a way that I think sets it apart from the rest. The green highlight color is one of my favorite parts about the theme, and it does a good job at not overpowering the entire theme.
Bonus: Two themes in one! And they are relatively new contenders in the theming realm. They both take notes from Ubuntu’s soon to be finished “communitheme” and bring it to your desktop today. The only real difference I can find between the offerings are the colors. Arrongin is centered around an Ubuntu-esq orange color, while Telinkrin uses a slightly more KDE Breeze-esq blue. I personally prefer the blue, but both are great options!
I have to admit, usually, when I see that a theme has “osx” or something similar in the title, I don’t expect much. Most Apple inspired themes seem to have so much in common that I can’t really find a reason to use them. There are two themes I can think of that break this mold: the Arc-osc them and the Gnome-osx theme that we have here.
The reason I like the Gnome-osx theme is because it truly does look at home on the Gnome desktop. It does a great job at blending into the DE without being too flat. So for those of you that enjoy a slightly less flat theme, and you like the red, yellow, and green button scheme for the close, minimize, and maximize buttons, than this theme is perfect for you.
7. Ultimate Maia
There was a time when I used Manjaro Gnome. Since then I have reverted back to Ubuntu, but one thing I wish I could have brought with me was the Manjaro theme. If you feel the same about the Manjaro theme as I do, then you are in luck because you can bring it to ANY distro you want that is running Gnome!
The rich green color, the Breeze-esq close, minimize, maximize buttons, and the over-all polish of the theme makes for one compelling option. It even offers some other color variants of you are not a fan of the green. But let’s be honest…who isn’t a fan of that Manjaro green color?
This was a theme I easily got excited about. It is modern, pulls from the macOS red, yellow, green buttons without directly copying them, and tones down the vibrancy of the theme, making for one unique alternative to most other themes. It comes with three dark variants and several colors to choose from so most of us will find something we like.
Like Vimix, Ant pulls inspiration from macOS for the button colors without directly copying the style. Where Vimix tones down the color options, Ant adds a richness to the colors that looks fantastic on my System 76 Galago Pro screen. The variation between the three theme options is pretty dramatic, and though it may not be to everyone’s taste, it is most certainly to mine.
10. Flat Remix
If you haven’t noticed by this point, I am a sucker for someone who pays attention to the details in the close, minimize, maximize buttons. The color theme that Flat Remix uses is one I have not seen anywhere else, with a red, blue, and orange color way. Add that on top of a theme that looks almost like a mix between Arc and Adapta, and you have Flat Remix.
I am personally a fan of the dark option, but the light alternative is very nice as well. So if you like subtle transparencies, a cohesive dark theme, and a touch of color here and there, Flat Remix is for you.
Paper has been around for some time now. I remember using it for the first back in 2014. I would say, at this point, Paper is more known for its icon pack than for its GTK theme, but that doesn’t mean that the theme isn’t a wonderful option in and of its self. Even though I adored the Paper icons from the beginning, I can’t say that I was a huge fan of the Paper theme when I first tried it out.
I felt like the bright colors and fun approach to a theme made for an “immature” experience. Now, years later, Paper has grown on me, to say the least, and the light hearted approach that the theme takes is one I greatly appreciate.
Pop is one of the newer offerings on this list. Created by the folks over at System 76, the Pop GTK theme is a fork of the Adapta theme listed earlier and comes with a matching icon pack, which is a fork of the previously mentioned Paper icon pack.
The theme was released soon after System 76 announced that they were releasing their own distribution, Pop!_OS. You can read my Pop!_OS review to know more about it. Needless to say, I think Pop is a fantastic theme with a superb amount of polish and offers a fresh feel to any Gnome desktop.
Obviously, there way more themes to choose from than we could feature in one article, but these are some of the most complete and polished themes I have used in recent months. If you think we missed any that you really like or you just really dislike one that I featured above, then feel free to let me know in the comment section below and share why you think your favorite themes are better!