Index ¦ Archives ¦ Atom ¦ RSS

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!

© Prashanth Ellina. Built using Pelican. Theme by Giulio Fidente on github.