Best Alternative Themes for Ubuntu Unity

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Ubuntu Unity was a big change for Canonical. Not only did it bring forth a completely new interface, it also managed to set a foundation towards Shuttleworth's biggest goals: convergence. Being a long-term thinker, Mark Shuttleworth has set his eyes on innovating the way operating systems work. His idea is that the same operating system should be there on each device be it a tablet, phone, TV, or a computer. No matter where the user goes, he or she should always feel like home that's why, Unity was developed. It is a solid, shell interface that makes it easy to search for stuff right from your desktop. It's not too flashy but it isn't that ugly either. The aim for the shell is to make sure that the operating system itself doesn't get in the way of you and your work.

As good as it sounds, many people hate Unity because of its lack of customization options. In other words, once you download Ubuntu, there's very little room for tweaking around and theming as you used to do during the GNOME 2 days. No wonder, people say that they miss GNOME 2. However, since times have changed, the decision to stick with a uniform interface makes sense.

But, wait. What about customization? Will I ever be able to customize my interface? Don't worry; you will. There are plenty of themes on the Internet that allow you to change the look of your desktop almost completely. Though the basic elements of the desktop remain the same (shell, indicator applets etc), you'll still be able to give it a fresh coat of paint. You can change the icons, and the theme itself. So, if you are looking to give your good old desktop a makeover, here are some of the best alternative themes for Ubuntu Unity:

Note: To install these themes, you will need Unity tweak tool, which you can get from the Ubuntu Software Center: apt:unity-tweak-tool


Numix, which is not just a theme but also a full-blown customization project, never fails to amaze me with its beauty and simplicity. The icons are flat, keeping up with the modern trends. (Yep, flat is so trendy that even Jonathan Ive couldn't resist it) Furthermore, there's a reddish hint to it that makes it fresh and trendy. If you notice the icons, you'll find that they've been carefully crafted and designed so as to make it work with the rest of the Unity interface. Trying it out on my Unity desktop, the theme makes all my indicator applets blend in with the interface. Yep, even the very new application called Copy, which we discussed in our earlier article gets its own icon. Also, I'm amazed at how many icons the designers have spent time working on. Even if you are not an avid themer, this project is worth giving a shot.

To install Numix theme, type in or paste the following commands in your terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install numix-gtk-theme

Mediterranean Night Series

The Mediterranean Night themepack fills in all your needs as far as theming is considered. Not only does it beautifully transform your Unity interface into a sleek minimalistic desktop, it also gives you plenty of choices. You can choose between 12 amazing themes, each giving a different experience. Some of them are dark, while some are light. Take your pick.

To install, type in or paste the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/themes
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install mediterraneannight-gtk-theme


Zukitwo is a clean and fresh theme that works great across GNOME Shell, Ubuntu, and GNOME 2 as well. In its dark and light variants, it never fails to impress those who seek minimalism. Zukitwo, as compared to Numix or any other theme, is relatively easy on the eyes. It has a very unassuming look to it, so much so that you wouldn't mind if Ubuntu changed its default theme to Zukitwo. If you are looking for a theme that's neither too flashy nor too plain jane, this is your best bet.

To install, type in or paste the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/themes
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install zukitwo-theme-all

Tip: Try combining these themes with the popular Faenza icon set until you come across something that totally makes your desktop stand out from the crowd.

The Faenza icon set can be downloaded from the following PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tiheum/equinox

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install faenza-icon-theme