Alternative: A Small-Screen Optimized Alternate Gnome Shell Theme [Linux]

gnomeshell alternative intro   Alternative: A Small Screen Optimized Alternate Gnome Shell Theme [Linux]Gnome Shell has been out for a while now, and with all of that elapsed time, some very nice themes have been created for it. I’ve reviewed a couple in the past, which you can find here, here, and here, and there are more review-worthy themes being written all the time. I must say, it’s starting to get hard to choose which one to use.

About the “Alternative” Theme

Today’s featured theme is written by popular theme artist half-left, in a theme titled “Alternative”. This theme is meant to be a sleek, compact theme that still keeps a few aspects of the default theme shipped with Gnome Shell. It’s also optimized for lower resolutions, so it’s a perfect theme for use on your netbook or other small-screen device.


Downloading the theme is quick and easy. Simply click here to download the theme. You can also download the recommended wallpaper and Faience icon pack (which also depends on the Faenza icon pack). The icon packs have their own installation instructions, and the Shell theme can be installed using Gnome Tweak Tool. The installation of the wallpaper should be self explanatory.

Desktop Changes

gnomeshell alternative desktop   Alternative: A Small Screen Optimized Alternate Gnome Shell Theme [Linux]
Immediately on the desktop, you’ll find the panel on the top to be quite small and slightly transparent. This makes the desktop itself (especially the wallpaper) seem a little bigger than with the default theme and also emphasizes your spacious screen of any size. There are also no curves on both sides of the panel, but there is a bright underline for anything you click on or hover over, similar to that of the default theme.

The auto-hiding notification bar at the bottom of your screen is also pretty transparent, and has nice, clean edges for a pleasant look.

Activities Screen

gnomeshell alternative windows   Alternative: A Small Screen Optimized Alternate Gnome Shell Theme [Linux]
Going into the Activities screen, the Windows page has a lot more transparency going for it. The search box in the top right is actually moved slightly to the right so that it isn’t a completely independent box, but rather attaches itself to the right edge of the screen, which is a design choice I definitely welcome. Again, clickable words have bright underlines when selected or hovered over.

gnomeshell alternative applications   Alternative: A Small Screen Optimized Alternate Gnome Shell Theme [Linux]
The Applications page is what you’d probably expect with one major difference: compared to the default theme, the application icons in this view are much smaller, and therefore a lot more applications can be shown at one time. This is part of the optimization for smaller screens, along with the compact panels. Of course, there are also categories on the right side so you get a smaller amount of applications thrusted in your face, which is nice as well.


Once again, this is a very nice theme for Gnome Shell which spices up your desktop from the default included theme. I’m honestly not sure if this is the best theme that I’ve reviewed so far, but it’s definitely nice despite its overall simplicity. Also, what works best depends on your preference and other parts of the entire visual experience, including the wallpaper and window theme.

Speaking of which, I plan on reviewing some window themes soon as well. Be on the lookout for those!

What’s your opinion of Alternative? What’s your favorite Gnome Shell theme so far? Let us know in the comments!

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0 votes

Kjell Inge Sandvik

I have just a yellow exclamation-mark outside where it’s supposed to change theme in Gnome Tweak Tool – why?

0 votes

Danny Stieben

I believe that you are still missing a component that needs to be installed, or it’s not enabled. What distribution are you using, and what does it say when you hover over the exclamation mark?

0 votes

David K

Same error here. When hovered upon, the icon says “Could not list shell extensions”. Thanks!!

0 votes

Danny Stieben

I believe you’re just missing the right Gnome Shell extensions for it to work. I might have to go into more detail later…

0 votes


Gnome-Shell is all about favoritism. They have been expemt from a lot of critadiadcism because they are wella0known.They are very far from being staadble. They are doing everyadthing at the same time; they are buildading the founaddaadtion at the same time as thea0house.Which one on based on specs would youa0use:Uses Javascript with a speed penalty in a new bindading infraadstrucadture. Which instead of using modadern Javascript metaphors like jQuery uses it like Mozilla does, very comadplex and very archaic. Using interadpreted lanadguage withadout the sex appeal of Python or even Javascript in browser. Has not still setadtled on a user interadface interaction.Uses Vala which I think is a very good comadprise in writading softadware in a clear way. Uses aniadmaadtion where it makes sense, not on every action. Integrates interadestading techadnoladogy like Zeitgeist and Indicators. Does not use bleedading edge founaddaadtion to build upon. Reuses existading techadnoladogy where it makes sense like with Compiz.What do you have against Unity is what we should be asking.I really loved the Gnome 2.0 revadoadluadtion and I really like where Gtk 3.0 is headading (Gnome 1.4 was a disadasadter). But where is Gnome 3.0 headading, really? I stopped using KDE because Gnome was thinkading about what was the right interadacadtions and was not afraid to say when they were wrong. Where are those peoadplea0now?It’s the same thing as with the Cygnus EGCS / GCC split. If a origadiadnaadtion is to relucadtant to allow new peoadple to do interadestading things they will movea0on.