For some time now there has been a general move over to darker themes in GNOME-land. I have tried a bunch of themes here and there but I have always moved back to the default Ubuntu theme: I always found the dark theme less usable and harder to look at in my day to day work. Last night though, I decided to give it a decent shot and customized the bejesus out of my desktop. I now have a pretty snazzy looking desktop and I (a) wanted to show it off (b) share how to make your own and (c) ask you folks if one final icon tweak is doable.

So, let’s kick off with (a): this my new desktop:

My desktop

If you want to see the full sized image, click here.

Now onto (b). To make my desktop look like this, I took my normal Ubuntu Jaunty desktop and made the following changes:

  • Changed my theme to Dust (System->Preferences->Appearance->Theme tab)- this ships with Ubuntu.
  • Changed the panel to use a specific background found in /usr/share/themes/Dust/panel-background-32px.png. To set this, right click each panel, click Properties and click the Background tab.
  • Set my panel size to 29 pixels.
  • Made a bunch of font changes (System->Preferences->Appearance->Fonts tab):
    • Application Font: Rehan – size 9
    • Document Font: Rehan – size 9
    • Desktop Font: Rasheeq Bold – size 9
    • Window Title Font: Rasheeq Bold – size 9
    • Fixed Width Font: Monospace – size 10
    • Used Subpixel smoothing (LCDs)
  • Switched on Desktop Effects (System->Preferences->Appearance->Visual Effects tab) and click Extra.

I am really happy with the results.

So finally, onto (c). One element in my desktop that is bugging me right now is the notification area:

Notification area

I think that a black panel with colored icons does not look good. Ideally what I am looking for are the icons in the notification area to be all colored white or grey. You can see a similar effect in how icons on the Mac OS X panel are all black: they look great and bring contrast to the notification area.

I did a little bit of digging to see if I someone had managed to do this, but I didn’t find anything. So my first question is, is there a solution to this out there? If so, I would appreciate any pointers.

I know that one approach to solving this is to simply load the icons into the GIMP and to color them. But I was thinking, would it be possible to patch the panel and to run each icon in the notification area through a function that colors the icon white or grey?

If anyone has any solutions, thanks in advance. Thanks also to everyone who has worked on the technologies that mean that without writing a line of code I can so dramatically change the look and feel of my desktop. Another notch on the wall of awesome for the desktop community. 🙂

Finally, just to add my voice to the anti-anti-Mono nonsense that is engulfing the Internet:

I am not scared of Mono

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