Some of the default icon sets that come with Linux distributions are just plain ugly. Have you ever looked at the default icon set for Gnome? While it works, it could look so much better. Thankfully, we can fix this rather easily. Here’s how you can switch icon sets, and which ones I recommend trying out.
How to Install
To install an icon set, you’ll first want to install Gnome Tweak Tool, a utility that allows you to access more configurability settings. This will allow you to switch between installed icon sets. Next, find your desired icon set and download it. Extract the contents of the zip folder, and place them in /home/<user>/.icons. Different icon sets should be in their own folders within the .icons folder. If you can’t see the .icons folder, you’ll need to enable visibility of hidden files and folders. In Nautilus, you can do this by simply hitting Ctrl + H on your keyboard.
Then, you can go to the Interface tab in Gnome Tweak Tool and switch to the icon set you want. The change should apply immediately.
If you’re a KDE user, you don’t have to install anything extra. Just go to System Settings > Appearance > Icons and choose the icon set you want.
There are loads of icon sets available, but which ones are good and worth trying out? Take a look at these 9 icon sets.
Moka [No Longer Available]
Moka is currently the hottest icon set available. It’s clean and very well designed — all icons have the same size and square shape with rounded corners. It’s also one of the more complete icon sets available, with a number of icons made for various third-party applications, and not just for generic items or default applications.
Faience/Faenza are a pair of icon themes by developer tiheum that are also wildly popular, although their heyday was roughly around the time when Gnome Shell was first released. The design concepts are actually very similar to Moka’s, but this theme also includes darker themes that can fit in well with light desktop themes.
Awoken follows a completely different design concept that doesn’t use square icons for everything. Instead, Awoken first gained popularity from its original mono mode of icons. It has since evolved to include colored icons as well as dark and white themes. I think they look a little cartoony, but it’s not a bad thing — the icons are still cleanly designed.
Numix goes back to the square icon concept, and offers some of the flattest icons around. The colors used in this one are also a bit brighter — sometimes intentional to add exaggerated effects. However, its simplicity is attractive.
Unlike other icon sets, you have a choice between square or circle icons. They look the same; only the shape is different. I welcome this option since (as you might already be able to tell) there’s an abundance of square icon sets.
The icons found in the Nitrux set also follow square design principles, but these look much more three-dimensional and glossy. Yet again, this set also has its own style that works great and gels well among itself.
If you like the type of icons that come with most distributions, but just don’t like their style, the Candy icon set is for you. Icons here aren’t all squares or circles, but rather just in the shape of whatever the icon depicts. It’s straightforward and not too fancy.
Elementary OS has been getting a ton of attention from my colleague Akshata, and the broader Linux community, over recent months. Part of the reason: it looks fantastic. The distribution’s icon set has something to do with that, so thankfully you can get it for your own Linux system without having to install Elementary OS. This one is similar in style to Candy, but it does come off as slightly more elegant. Or maybe that’s just the prestige talking.
You can’t deny that the icons in Mac OS X look pretty nice, so it’s no surprise that someone made an icon set based off of Apple’s operating system. This isn’t a perfect copy of the icons used in Mac OS X, but the inspiration is clear enough. If you like Apple’s icons, then this is a good icon set for you.
There you go! Those were nine great icon sets that you can try out with ease. Be sure to check out the installation instructions for the icon sets above — while my instructions at the beginning of this article apply to all Linux distributions, there are some icon sets that provide Ubuntu PPAs that make installation easier.
What’s your favorite icon set? What do you like most about it? Let us know in the comments!