Making Ubuntu 7.10 (Gutsy) look slicker

It has been three weeks since I upgraded to Gutsy from the development repositories. Gutsy got released just a little more than a day back. While going through the news from the blogosphere about this event, I wished Ubuntu had released a “non-brown” desktop. I don’t like brown and have seen quite a few others complaining. Brown is unique but to me it smells of being different for the sake of being different.

The good thing about being on Linux as most of us know is the possibilities it offers for customization. A few years back customization would have required a few hours of focussed hacking but I am surprised at how easily I was able to purge the brown look and create a slick black setup. OS X and Vista please step aside, the position of “OS with Best Customizable Eye Candy” is taken.

Let us start with some screenshots. The instructions below will help you duplicate the same if you want.

The shift switcher compiz plugin replicates “CoverFlow”. I love this one.


Dashboard baby!


The black theme is the same used by Ubuntu studio. Apart from looking great, it might just save a few more watts! ;) I used Compiz’s “Negative” effect to make the terminal’s title bar blend in with the body of the window (Super + N) is the shortcut when focus is in the terminal window). To learn more about other Compiz effects go here.

The following instructions will get the Ubuntu Studio theme installed.

sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-theme ubuntustudio-icon-theme ubuntustudio-wallpapers ubuntustudio-gdm-theme

originally from here


To get the dock at the bottom of the screen you have to install awn.

sudo su -c 'echo deb gutsy avant-window-navigator >> /etc/apt/sources.list'
sudo su -c 'echo deb-src gutsy avant-window-navigator >> /etc/apt/sources.list'
sudo apt-key add reacocard.asc
rm reacocard.asc
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator-bzr awn-core-applets-bzr

originally from here

A slightly different looking (curved) dock can be installed using instructions here.


The final touch is to add widgets to Compiz’s widget layer which will look a lot like OS X’s Dashboard.

sudo su -c 'echo deb feisty screenlets >> /etc/apt/sources.list'
wget -O- | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install screenlets
mkdir ~/.config/Screenlets
mkdir ~/.config/autostart 

To configure which widgets come on the screen, do


and select the widgets. Right click on the widget to adjust properties.

In the CCSM, enable the “Widget Layer” plugin and edit its options. Under the behavior tab, add screenletsd to the “Widget Windows” box. Your Screenlets should then disappear but toggle on and off with the F9 key.

To run CCSM (Compiz settings manager), do


originally from here

After adding all the eye-candy (Compiz + awn), the overall responsiveness is still good on my Dell 700m (512MB, 1.6Ghz). This means I get to keep all of this running all the time and not just for demoing!

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  1. Terry

    Love this tutorial. It was very easy to follow and implement. The only thing that I would mention on this is that if you have Ubuntu 7.10 and you follow all of the steps above, after you have added the “screenletsd” to the Widget Windows in the CCSM (that’s a mouth full) you will need to right click on each widget and specify “widget” under the “Window” option. I really hope that made sense. Again, great tutorial :)

    Posted October 22, 2007 at 11:48 pm | Permalink
  2. Harshdeep

    I did all the steps however I Awn manager from Preferences menu won’t run upon clicking it. It does run from the terminal by ‘screenlets-manager’

    Any light?

    Posted October 23, 2007 at 5:23 am | Permalink
  3. Harshdeep

    Following is the output when I run awn-manager from console:-

    lali@LALINUX:~$ awn-manager
    /usr/share/avant-window-navigator/awn-manager/ DeprecationWarning: raising a string exception is deprecated
    raise “\nKey: “+key+” isn’t set.\nRestarting AWN usually solves this issue\n”
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/usr/bin/awn-manager”, line 199, in
    awnmanager = AwnManager()
    File “/usr/bin/awn-manager”, line 100, in __init__
    self.prefManager = awnPreferences(self.wTree)
    File “/usr/share/avant-window-navigator/awn-manager/”, line 162, in __init__
    self.setup_color(TITLE_TEXT_COLOR, self.wTree.get_widget(“textcolor”))
    File “/usr/share/avant-window-navigator/awn-manager/”, line 182, in setup_color
    raise “\nKey: “+key+” isn’t set.\nRestarting AWN usually solves this issue\n”

    Key: /apps/avant-window-navigator/title/text_color isn’t set.
    Restarting AWN usually solves this issue

    Posted October 23, 2007 at 5:28 am | Permalink
  4. Thanks Terry! Hope you are enjoying it.

    Posted October 23, 2007 at 6:59 am | Permalink
  5. Harshdeep,

    try this,
    ALT + F2 -> brings up the “Run Application” window.
    type in ‘gconf-editor’ to open “Configuration Editor”,
    Navigate to “/”, “apps”, “avant-window-manager”, “title” and check if there is an entry for “text_color”, if not create a “New key” of string type with name “text_color” and value “FFFFFFFF”.

    I have not tried this, so it may or may not work (but ideally should be safe to try).

    A couple of questions…

    1) Are you running gutsy? How did you install it (upgrade, fresh install etc)?
    2) Do you have Compiz installed?
    3) Is Compiz enabled?

    I found this thread on Ubuntu Forums where you can look for a solution, if you don’t, do try posting there.

    Do let me know if you get it working. Good luck :)

    Posted October 23, 2007 at 7:08 am | Permalink
  6. Shimmy

    The widget-layer does not seems to affect the screenlets if you add “screenletsd” to the behaviour box, instead i entered “” and it worked.

    Posted October 23, 2007 at 4:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Hansemann


    This is my first hour with Linux ever, so..
    Can’t seem to get the studio theme working; I get this error in terminal when pasting the commands i found here:

    And I’m not sure how to get the cover-flow thing going..
    Sorry guys, hope someone have time to help me out..

    Err gutsy/main Packages
    404 Not Found
    Fetched 3B in 1s (3B/s)
    Failed to fetch 404 Not Found
    Reading package lists… Done
    E: Some index files failed to download, they have been ignored, or old ones used instead.
    hc@Zepto:~$ sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-theme ubuntustudio-icon-theme ubuntustudio-wallpapersReading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    Some packages could not be installed. This may mean that you have
    requested an impossible situation or if you are using the unstable
    distribution that some required packages have not yet been created
    or been moved out of Incoming.
    The following information may help to resolve the situation:

    The following packages have unmet dependencies:
    ubuntustudio-icon-theme: Depends: tango-icon-theme but it is not installable
    ubuntustudio-theme: Depends: gtk2-engines-murrine but it is not installable
    E: Broken packages

    Posted October 24, 2007 at 5:12 am | Permalink
  8. D. Searson

    I really enjoyed this tutorial. It worked like a charm! I have a laptop and just installed Gusty and followed your instructions. I am a fan of the traditional Ubuntu theme and left that part alone. Thank you, thank you , thank you.

    Posted October 25, 2007 at 6:11 am | Permalink
  9. Hansemann, Looks like your repository list is broken. Please send the contents of your /etc/apt/sources.list. Also, did you try upgrading from Fesity to Gutsy before release date? (I’m asking because my repos got broken on a machine because of this).

    Posted October 25, 2007 at 7:38 am | Permalink
  10. D. Searson, I am happy it worked for you. Enjoy!

    Posted October 25, 2007 at 7:39 am | Permalink
  11. proanti

    good stuff man. after all the unsuccessful attempts with AWN, using your source worked like a champ.

    Posted October 27, 2007 at 2:45 am | Permalink
  12. Cole Cash

    I’ve successfully implemented compiz and awn. I really like it a great deal. However, my main gripe right now is that I’ve lost my title bar on all of my windows. That also means that I don’t have my close, minimize/maximize buttons. This is rather annoying when I want to close something. I don’t always want to go down to the dock. Do you know what I need to do to rectify this situation?

    Posted October 27, 2007 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  13. Shanghai

    Okay I have same problem as Harshdeep.
    When I try the gconf editor I see that there is no schema (title doesn’t exist).
    I installed kubuntu and compiz kde is running.

    Posted October 28, 2007 at 6:53 am | Permalink
  14. gokiburi

    All the installs worked like a charm with the exception of AWN. I have the same issue as Harshdeep and Shanghai.

    I haven’t been able to find a fix anywhere just yet. Any clues?

    Posted October 28, 2007 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  15. catatoa

    I have the same problem, also. But I install the AWN from Source and it work. I use this tutorial:
    Good luck!

    Posted October 28, 2007 at 2:49 pm | Permalink
  16. Harshdeep Singh


    I was able to get AWN working. Actually the way to works is:-

    Install AWN by the steps mentioned in the above article.
    Then to start it, go to Applications -> Accessories -> AWN manager

    And it starts..

    To get a Glass dock:


    Posted October 31, 2007 at 7:03 pm | Permalink
  17. Thanks for the info Harshdeep.

    Posted October 31, 2007 at 8:28 pm | Permalink
  18. SeismicMike

    Couldn’t download the key for the screenlets. It couldn’t resolve the URL.

    Posted December 30, 2007 at 9:07 pm | Permalink
  19. SeismicMike, I just tried the link ( and it is working fine. It might have been a temporary condition.

    Posted January 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Permalink
  20. Rajesh

    I was able to install the AWN. However, couldn’t download screenlets. Things went well till the point of update. This is what I got from “sudo apt-get update”

    Get:6 gutsy/avant-window-navigator Sources [1020B]
    Ign fiesty Release.gpg
    Ign fiesty/screenlets Translation-en_IN
    Ign fiesty Release
    Ign fiesty/screenlets Packages
    Err fiesty/screenlets Packages
    404 Not Found

    Could anyone tell me the alternate source for the screenlets?


    Posted January 23, 2008 at 11:20 pm | Permalink
  21. Great Tutorial! I have just installed Gutsy on my DV9700T, and I admit, it’s far better than Vista or XP.
    I have been using Ubuntu on my old laptop for a year and a half now and glad that I stumbled upon
    this tutorial. Made installing the UbuntuStudio look even easier than before. Great Job!

    Posted February 28, 2008 at 2:15 pm | Permalink
  22. It’s a wonderful theme. Glad you found this article useful.

    Posted March 1, 2008 at 8:36 pm | Permalink
  23. CruXx

    great tutorial kinda bad that awn site doesn’t work any more . thanks

    Posted April 12, 2008 at 10:21 pm | Permalink