Browsers Linux

Does Firefox Look Out Of Place In Gnome Shell? Try These Two Tips

Danny Stieben 28-01-2014

Firefox doesn’t blend in well with Gnome Shell. Here’s how to fix that. 


If you’ve used Firefox in Gnome Shell, you’ve probably noticed that while it looks great (certainly better than it does under KDE Match Firefox's Theme To KDE With The Oxygen KDE Add-On [Linux] In my last article I covered how to make GTK/GNOME applications follow in line with the way KDE applications look by default in Linux. However, if you've been tinkering around a little, you may have... Read More ), it doesn’t look like it could be one of the native Gnome applications. Thankfully, there are two different ways you can make Firefox look even better in Gnome Shell GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More  – one of which is much easier to apply than the other. Let’s go over both. 

Use the Gnome 3 Theme

First off, if you want your Firefox to look like other new-style Gnome Shell applications, you’ll want to install this Gnome 3 theme [No Longer Available]. Originally called Adwaita, after the name of the default Gnome 3 theme, this extension adds some design cues that you would find in other native Gnome applications – the tabs now have light blue accents on the top of them, the back and forward buttons follow the Gnome 3 style, and there are few other minor tweaks. It’s a quick yet simple extension that makes quite a difference in calming your OCD (don’t worry: we all want our applications to fit in with our system).

Firefox with GTK3

There’s a reason Firefox doesn’t fit into Gnome Shell: Firefox for Linux still uses GTK2, even though GTK3 has been out for several years now. GTK3 is the new graphical toolkit that came out with Gnome 3, and is responsible for all the buttons and menus you see. However, a project to port Firefox over to GTK3 began around that same time, and is finally nearing completion.

If you’re running Fedora, you can actually test out the GTK3 version of Firefox right now. Just note that there are still a few major issues with it, primarily that running any sort of plugin (like Java and Flash) will make the browser crash. Progress on everything else is just about complete – not including stability testing – so we may be able to see official GTK3 builds of Firefox by the end of 2014.


To install the GTK3 version of Firefox in Fedora, you’ll need to do the following:

  • To add the necessary repository, run the command cd /etc/yum.repos.d && sudo nano firefox-gtk3.repo. Then, paste the following into that file and save it:

[stransky-FirefoxGtk3] name=Copr repo for FirefoxGtk3 owned by stransky baseurl=$releasever-$basearch/ skip_if_unavailable=True gpgcheck=0 enabled=1

  • To install the GTK3 version of Firefox, run the command sudo yum install firefox-gtk3
  • Before running Firefox, it’s a good idea to create a new profile, since it’s still very unstable and experimental. Do so by running the command firefox-gtk3 -ProfileManager.
  • According to the package maintainer, once Firefox is running, go into about:config and make sure that “dom.ipc.plugins.enabled” is set to TRUE.

This package can be installed alongside the official GTK2 version of Firefox. Also note that this repo contains the lastest testing versions of Firefox rather than the latest stable releases.

You probably won’t see much difference between the GTK2 and GTK3 versions – there are some redesigned tabs in the Settings dialog, but that has more to do with the new Australis interface in the experimental built than GTK3 itself. But you’re using GTK3, which in turn reduces Firefox’s memory usage – your system doesn’t have to load GTK2 in addition to the already-loaded GTK3 libraries.

Sadly the above-mentioned Gnome 3 extension won’t work in combination with this GTK3 build – not because it is based on GTK3, but because it’s using the new Australis interface.


On the plus side, this GTK3 build of Firefox follows Gnome’s settings, including the global dark theme that you can enable via 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 .


Although Firefox already looks pretty good by default, these two tips should help it blend into Gnome Shell better. It’s also good to know that the GTK3 has come along pretty far, and should reach stable releases in approximately a year by current estimates. Now if only Chrome could look just as great, and offer GTK3 support.

What tweaks have you used to improve Firefox’s look? What has given you the best results for Firefox when running KDE? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Fedora, GNOME Shell, Mozilla Firefox.

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  1. dragonmouth
    January 28, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    "If you’ve used Firefox in Gnome Shell, you’ve probably noticed that while it looks great (certainly better than it does under KDE)"
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me any version of Gnome leaves a lot to be desired in comparison to LXDE, Enlightment or KDE. So trying to make FF look "better" in Gnome is an exercise in futility.

    • Danny S
      January 31, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      I suppose that's true. :) At least these tips help alter Firefox's appearance in some ways people may like.