Faience: One Of The Best Gnome Shell Themes Yet [Linux]

Danny Stieben 08-09-2011

gnome themesYou have to admit that Gnome Shell GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More does look elegant, even if you completely hate it for how it works. Some people even say that Gnome Shell practically breaks every ergonomics rule in the book, but others seem to enjoy it. Currently I myself find it most useful on my netbook, and I like what the developers have done to try to put some new life into the boring old desktop. With some more additions I might even consider it as the desktop of choice on my other machines.


As the developers are still sane enough to include the capability to theme Gnome Shell, people have been hard at work to create some stunning themes, some of which I’ve covered in this previous article Top 5 Gnome Shell Themes For You To Install [Linux] Even since before Gnome Shell's official release, people have been hard at work creating some interesting themes for the new desktop environment. Changing themes in Gnome Shell isn't hard thanks to some nice configuration tools... Read More . However, only a few days ago a new theme has debuted, and honestly it has already won me over. The default theme that comes with Gnome Shell is pretty and elegant, but no matter how good it looks, it’ll always still be the default, which deters some people away automatically.

About Faience

gnome themes

Faience is a Gnome Shell theme created by tiheum, the same guy that brought you the very popular Faenza icon set. Based on his own description the theme (and supporting icon set) are currently “works in progress”, so it appears that this isn’t a final product at all and that we can expect to see updates in the future.

Currently there is no GTK3/2 theme that is made specifically for the Faience Shell theme, but that is also currently in the works. In the meantime, tiheum recommends a different GTK3/2 theme that you can install, which in my opinion fits perfectly fine.

gnome shell linux



gnome shell linux

In order to install the recommended set of themes, fonts, and wallpaper, there will be a couple of steps you need to take for a successful install. The instructions I give you should work for any distribution that is currently running/supporting Gnome Shell, though for those who like to know, I will be using Fedora Fedora 15 - Bringing You The Latest In Linux It's another great day in the world of Linux. Fedora 15 was finally released yesterday, and this new release brings a massive amount of changes compared to Fedora 14. In fact, there's so many changes... Read More . In order to make the final steps of installation as easy as possible, we will be using the Gnome Tweak Tool Configure Your Gnome 3 Desktop With Gnome Tweak Tool There aren't exactly a bazillion different customization options for just about anything, as GNOME 3/Shell is still relatively new. If you're one of those people who can't stand GNOME 3 as long as you cannot... Read More .

Gnome Shell Theme

gnome shell linux

The first step would be to place the Gnome Shell theme itself into the right location. First, visit this page and download the ZIP file, then extract all of its contents and place them in your ~/.themes folder. So an example folder path would be /home/makeuseof/.themes and therefore you need to enter the path manually or enable hidden folder view.


Icon Set

Faience works best with its own icon set, which holds the same name. For those familiar with the Faenza icon set, this new Faience icon set will look very similar. You can use the Faenza icon set in place of Faience without any issues if you would like, or install the Faience icons. To do that, visit this page, download the ZIP file, and extract all of its contents to ~/.icons.

Additional Font

Next you can download a font to aid with the visual appearance of the theme. Go to this page, download the ZIP file, and extract all font files into your ~/.fonts folder. That’s all you have to do for the font.

GTK3/2 Theme

Second to last is the GTK3/2 theme that will be used by all the windows themselves. You will need to install the Unico, Murrine, and pixbuf engines for the GTK3/2 themes to work correctly. Ubuntu users will need to get Unico from here (or just google “unico ubuntu“), and install the other engines using sudo apt-get install gtk2-engines-murrine gtk2-engines-pixbuf. Fedora users will need to add this repository here by copying the contents of the page and placing them into a new file under /etc/yum.repos.d/, and then install all engines using yum install gtk3-unico-engine gtk-murrine-engine gtk2-engines. Finally, download the ZIP file, and extract all of its contents into ~/.themes.


Finally, you’ll want to finish off the look with a nice wallpaper. A recommended wallpaper can be found here, or you can use whichever wallpaper you would like. If you would like to use the wallpaper that I used in my screenshots, then visit this page.


Selecting Them In Gnome Tweak Tool

gnome themes

Everything’s in place, but nothing is selected yet! Go ahead and launch your Gnome Tweak Tool, and then change the following settings:

  • Under Interface Tab, change GTK+ theme to Zukitwo
  • Under Interface Tab, change Icon Theme to Faience-Azur
  • Under Shell Tab, change Shell Theme to Faience
  • Under Windows Tab, change Current Theme to Zukitwo

In case Gnome Shell decides to take a break and crash for a moment, simply go along with its whims. In case that happens, you’ll get logged out but you can log right back in and continue changing the settings.


You’re now using the Faience theme for Gnome Shell along with the recommended GTK3/2 theme, font, and wallpaper. Use your computer to the fullest so that you can find all the changes that the new theme brings over your last used theme. Remember that as this Gnome theme is a work in progress, you should check the download page regularly for updates.


Do you use Gnome Shell? If so, what theme is your favorite, and why? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: GNOME Shell, Wallpaper.

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  1. Uday Choudhary
    September 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    the only thing wanting in gnome territory is looks. Glad that someone is making progress in the area, which has been way too long been stagnant; despite sincere attempts.

    • Danny Stieben
      September 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      Indeed, I'm pretty happy about this too. tiehum has some great talent in this area and is much appreciated.

  2. Bernard Hoffmann
    September 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Gaia is nice, with the light wood background that is already in the GNOME package.

    • Danny Stieben
      September 16, 2011 at 10:00 pm

      True, Gaia is also nice. It just hasn't been my favorite (or maybe I've been using the wrong wallpapers with it).