Anyone paying attention is going to tell you that Ubuntu themes over time, have gotten a lot better. Gone is the “brown” and in is more of a tan and purple layout. But even with this improvement, it’s worth noting that there are a number of fantastic themes out there worth looking into. How does one go about changing their theme in Ubuntu? Ah, this is actually really easy thanks to Ubuntu’s use of the GNOME desktop. Check this out.

For Metacity themes

1) Download the theme from a source like

2) On desktop, right click, choose Change Desktop Background.

3) Select Theme tab from selection provided.

4) Choose install button, browse to the downloaded tar.gz package, choose open.

5) When promoted to select new theme, choose Apply New theme

Further customize:
1 Select a theme, choose the Customize button.

2 Choose one of the following tabs; controls, colors, icons, etc.

3 Select changes and watch things alter in real time.

Now this is only covering aspects of what is called Metacity. For those who are unaware, Metacity is the windows manager for GNOME.


For users of the 3D theming options provided with ATI or NVIDIA cards, you might wish to rethink your theming options all together. Consider instead using Beryl/Compiz with the emerald theme manager. Once you install emerald, you’re then free to download compatible themes and use emerald to setup Compiz friendly themes for your desktop. Here’s how.

cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by MethodDan

1) Download a Compiz compatible theme package. It’ll end in .emerald for the file extension.

2) Open the emerald theme manager. From Theme Settings tab, select the import button.

3) Now go to System > Preferences > CompizConfig Settings Manager and enable Window Decoration.

4) At this stage, goto the CompizConfig Settings Manager again and for the Window Decoration add-on, enter this under command:  emerald –replace

5) You can reboot at this point to make sure it loads right. Remember though, you want to make sure you have a theme selected in emerald first though.

Hate emerald themes

If the emerald themes are bugging you and you’d prefer to revert back to the old school Metacity themes, try this.

1) Goto CompizConfig Settings Manager again and for the Window Decoration plugin, enter the following under command:  /usr/bin/compiz-decorator

2) If you’d rather not wait to reboot to make the changes immediately, just type this in Alt-F2: /usr/bin/compiz-decorator –replace