One of the reasons why people love using Arch Linux is its ability to customize.
You can customize other distros too. But with Arch, since you are packing everything one by one, you can choose to ditch something, add something extra or even use alternatives.
Speaking of customization, themes, icons and wallpapers are some of the easiest ways of customizing the looks of any Linux distro. The amazing Arch User Repository provides a huge number of themes for all desktop environments.
Want some recommendations on that? This article is all about that. I’ll be sharing some of my favorite themes, icons, cursors and wallpapers. In the last section, I’ll also share some tips on installing those themes on your Arch-based Linux distribution.
Here are the best themes, according to me. Feel free to agree or disagree.
Let’s start with the most famous (famous for a reason) desktop theme. Arc theme is a highly sophisticated theme that provides a gorgeous view. Arc theme comes in 3 variants. Arc theme modifies the sections of the window into clearly distinguishable parts. It is currently my favorite.
To download and install the Arc theme, use the command below.
sudo pacman -S arc-gtk-theme
Who isn’t impressed by the absolute elegance of the KDE Plasma desktop? Gnome-Breeze is the GTK theme that mimics this beauty on GTK-based desktop environments.
To download and install the Breeze GTK theme, use the command below.
sudo pacman -S breeze-gtk
Materia theme is a Material design for GNOME/GTK-based desktops. It supports most of the major desktops too with their respective packages. It’s pure white and dark or a blend of both looks sleek on desktops.
To install the materia theme, use the following command:
sudo pacman -S materia-gtk-theme
The nordic theme remains one of the most popular themes, not only for desktops but in different scenarios. For GNOME/GTK-based desktops, the Nordic theme is available in a couple of neat flavors.
5. Flat Remix
Flat remix is kind of similar to the material theme, with pure black and pure white background colors to choose from. It offers a wide range of compatibility, including GTK4 and libadwaita.
A blend of dark and light colors, where, you will get round windows, with similar Nordic colors.
Available in several variants, you should grab the theme files from the gnome-looks website. Also, there is a method to install the theme through the command line, which is mentioned on their official GitHub page. This offers to automatically apply libadwaita configs too. Check it out if you want that.
Qogir is a flat Design theme, based on the Arc GTK theme.
Download the files from gnome-looks. Install instructions are discussed later in this article.
Gruvbox Material is a GTK theme based on the color palette of the Gruvbox Material for Neovim.
The sweet theme holds a special place on many occasions, because of a little fancy look.
Now that you have selected the theme of your choice, let’s take a peek at some icon packs to finish off the beautification.
1. Numix Circle
Once you have got a nice theme, nothing completes the desktop like Numix Circle icons. The Numix icon pack is colorful, vibrant, and more complete and consistent than any other custom icon pack.
To get Numix circle icons, use the following command:
yay -S numix-circle-icon-theme-git
You will be familiar with papirus icon set, the popular and up-to-date icon pack. It’s been seen as default in Manjaro and is readily available in your package manager. It’s better to use the icon theme via the package manager so that you will get an updated icon theme when released.
To install this icon set:
sudo pacman -S papirus-icon-theme
3. Flat Remix
Apart from the GTK theme, Flat-remix developer has a detailed icon set.
You need to download the files from the website and apply them as mentioned above.
4. Pop Icon
Although Pop-icon is a set of icons developed by Pop!OS, it’s a good candidate as an icon set for any desktop.
You can install Pop Icon theme by the following command:
sudo pacman -S pop-icon-theme
Once both themes and icons are set, you can install a nice cursor pack, to enhance the overall look and feel of the desktop.
1. Arch Linux
2. Material Minimal
3. Arch Linux green Color
4. Linux, GNU, Unix
How to Apply Themes
Before you go on downloading the themes, you should make sure of a few things as prerequisites.
There are two places the themes/icons files can be placed:
- ~/.themes and ~/.icons: You may have to create this folder in your home directory if it doesn’t exist. The themes/icons placed here will be available only to you (the logged-in user)
- /usr/share/themes and /usr/share/icons: The themes/icons put in this folder will be available to all the users on your system. You need to be root to put files in this folder.
Normally, I suggest going with the former one which is ~/.themes. And you can save both icon and cursor files to the ~/.icons folder.
To do that, go to your Home directory. Press Ctrl+H to show hidden files and folders. If you don’t see the .themes directory, create it.
Alternatively, use this command in the terminal to create this directory:
mkdir ~/.themes mkdir ~/.icons
Download and Extract GNOME themes
You can grab the theme files for the below themes from the links provided. Extract the downloaded theme file. Copy the folder and paste it into the .themes folder of your home directory (that you had created earlier).
Setting GTK4 themes
In some theme files, you have the provision to set the theme to GTK 4 apps like Nautilus and System Settings, etc. All the below themes mentioned have the option to set that.
Every theme here has GTK4 app support, the below settings work only for those installed by downloading from the gnome-looks website. If the theme is installed from the package manager, then, the theme will be placed in the
/usr/share/themes directory. So, you may need to copy and paste some files from
/usr/share/themes, rather than
~/.themes, which is easier and mentioned below.
Case 1 :
Go to the “gtk-4.0” folder inside the extracted themes folder. If there is an “assets” folder inside this folder, copy all the contents including the “assets” folder to
In some cases, the “assets” folder inside the gtk-4.0 folder will be a link to another location.
In this case, go to the link target (this is obtained from the properties dialog as shown above), copy the assets folder, and paste it inside the
~/.config/gtk-4.0 directory instead of the link. Now paste the other contents in gtk-4.0 folder of the extracted theme except the “assets” linked folder to
If you have an “assets” folder inside the extracted themes folder, and no “assets” folder inside “gtk-4.0” folder of the extracted theme, then copy this “assets” folder to
Now, copy all the contents inside the
gtk-4.0 folder of the theme to
If you don’t find the “assets” folder in either themes’ folder or inside
gtk-4.0 , then probably, it will be inside some other folder like
gtk-3.0 of the extracted theme file. In this case, find the assets folder and copy it to the ~/.config folder. After that, copy all the contents inside the gtk-4.0 folder to
One thing to remember. Each time you change the theme, you need to do the step with the respective theme.
Change the GNOME theme with the GNOME Tweaks tool
Once you have installed new themes, it is time to see how to use this new GNOME theme. You have the GNOME Tweaks tool installed for this purpose. Or install it using:
sudo pacman -S gnome-tweaks
Also, you need to install gnome-shell-extension-manager. and enable user themes extension. For this use:
yay -S extension-manager
You can use our guide on how to use GNOME Shell extensions.
Change the extensions using the tweak tool.
Note that, you should not tweak the appearance (dark/light) within GNOME system settings if you are following these methods.
Well, these are not by any means everything available. There are a huge number of icon packs in the AUR. But the ones that are impressive and complete to a certain extent are listed here.
Also, if you want to make the Flatpak apps also similar, you can refer to the article on how to apply GTK theme to Flatpak apps.
This is a subjective topic so go ahead and tell us your favorite themes and icon packs in the comments below.