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

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gnone themesGnome 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

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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

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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.

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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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