Top 5 Gnome Shell Themes For You To Install [Linux]

Danny Stieben 18-06-2011

gnome shell themesEven since before Gnome Shell GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More ‘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 you can install. With plenty of people sporting the new desktop environment in Linux thanks to releases such as Fedora 15 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 , which has Gnome Shell by default, applying themes is quickly becoming a more desired action.


Be Ready For Themes

There are two ways for you to install themes. One way is the hard, manual way of copying and pasting files into a specific folder (


to be exact), while the easy way allows you to choose your theme package using a graphical tool and be done with it. Therefore, I highly recommend that you install 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 and “gnome-shell-extensions-user-theme” if you haven’t already. Those package names are from Fedora, so check your package manager in case the package names are different for your distribution.

You can then launch Gnome Tweak Tool, head over to the Shell category, and find a nice little place for Shell themes along with a box to pick out new ones for installation.


Now that we have a way to install our themes, let’s check out my top 5.


gnome shell themes

Atolm is a great choice for those who would like to have a soft, dark Shell theme to have something different to look at aside from the default Awaita theme. There is also a nice touch of blue for highlighted, clicked, and active items. The combination is great on the eyes, and the theme as a whole gets some simplicity points as well.

There is also a GTK theme that can go along with it, though personally I find that the pane backgrounds are too dark for me. However, that doesn’t mean that the theme is excellent.

Smooth Inset

linux gnome themes

In case Atolm is too dark for you, Smooth Inset may be a great alternative. It offers much of the same simplicity as Atolm does, yet the lighter colors might brighten your mood when you turn your computer on. There’s really not a whole lot to it, just different shades and opacity levels of white, along with a little light blue. The theme, though simple, still keeps it interesting.

There is also a version available for smaller screens. The main difference presented by the small screen version is that the application icons are smaller, so more fit into view at one time. The panel at the top is also smaller to allow more screen space for applications.

Dark Glass

linux gnome themes

Another one in the simplicity pool is Dark Glass. This theme represents exactly what it’s called – dark glass. Again, there’s not a whole lot to it, just shades of gray and black, along some glassy effects. Another great choice if you want a crisper look than Atolm.


Top 5 Gnome Shell Themes For You To Install [Linux] orta white

Orta comes in two variations, which you will discover if you open up the original .zip folder. One contains almost all white while the other one contains a mix of white and black/gray colors.

linux gnome themes

The themes represents the original GTK2 theme very well and the combination of the two works great. The Orta theme contains a couple more curves, so it doesn’t have the full simplicity as the previously mentioned choices.


linux themes

Gaia is yet another theme that doesn’t really fit in the simplicity pool. Although it isn’t necessarily as fancy as Orta, the combination of white and green colors creates an interesting appeal that may not always work with every GTK theme or wallpaper. But if you have a wallpaper and GTK theme that work with this Shell theme, you’re in for a treat.

Honorable Mention

gnome shell themes

Finally, I can’t finish this article without giving an honorable mention to the Tron Shell theme. It is a superbly made theme that makes your computer about ten times cooler, instantly. It would top the list, but sadly it is too specialized compared to the others, so it isn’t exactly something everyone can use (or is a fan of). However, you should at least look at the screenshots to decide for yourself if you would like to use it.


Gnome Shell is a great desktop environment that still has plenty of potential, as one can see in the quality of themes. As the Shell gains more features in future releases, the potential will increase even more, and we’ll really see what kind of customizations we can make.

Do you like to theme your Gnome Shell? How much better do you think the themes are compared to Gnome’s default “Awaita”? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Chankey Pathak
    August 5, 2011 at 2:02 am

    Honorable Mention looks nice!