Call for participation: an ubuntu default theme lead by the community?

+1 for Arc. It can be really a great inspiration to modernize Ubuntu, as there is many elements that give some kind of a similar feeling (especially the spacing and the transparency), while being more “modern” !

TBH, I think that we could propose some prototype either as mock-up, either as a some slightly modified other theme (color swap, edt, etc) in order to discuss here ideas and possibilities. It could help discussing ideas, and having all together a reflexion about in what direction we want to go. :slight_smile: (but it’s just a proposition, because I think that we certainly have different ideas about how could look Ubuntu 18.04)


How about the United gnome theme?

Just reading it’s description it fills all the requirements.

"Based on a Ubuntu 18.04 design concept with some inspiration from Unity 8. "


Cool! I didn’t see this before. Thanks for making this!

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Hi! I’ve been a designer for about 17 years now and really into icon design…how can I contribute?

I really like the look of Ubuntu 17.10 + GNOME stock icons, but there’s clearly a lot of momentum here to make Ubuntu look less like macOS (gradients and realistic icons) and more like Android (flat colors and uniform icon shapes). Please keep usability in mind if Ubuntu really makes the jump from one style to the other.

Example: Ambiance makes it really clear which window has the focus – its title bar has a bright gradient, whereas background windows use a flat dark gray. I find it much harder to tell which window is focused with Arc and other flat themes.
The Suru icon theme and others also remind me of minimalist movie posters: They’re really subtle and clever if you know what you’re looking at, but I don’t think they’re self-explanatory enough for newcomers. For example, the calendar icon is a roundrect with a number, whereas GNOME’s icon is a lot more detailed. There’s also inherently more “distinctness” that icons can have when their shapes are wildly different, which makes it easier to scan a list of applications.

I don’t have any skills that I can offer, but if there’s something like a Patreon for Linux usability tests, I’d love to chip in.

Excellent idea to start from scratch. I think that Stefan Edward Kreenn with his precis analysis of the UI has a lot of good ideas to enhance the User eXperience of the new Ubuntu theme eventhougth his analysis is broader and just a simple theme enhancement(
If we mix that job with Roman Nguyen’s job ( adding the Suru icone theme we could get a good final result.


I have a good question about the icon theme.

Unity8 had a very cool thing where every icon had 1:1 aspect ratio and wasn’t transparent, just a full square icon and then that same icon would be cropped by the UI for example in the dash or dock or that app scope, the icons were cropped to be more rounded.

Could the same be achieved in Ubuntu gnome? I think that way icons would be much more flexible. We would have one square icon set but could possibly choose a different crop shape like: square with rounded corners, circle, pentagon etc.

Is this something that could be done in gtk? It would be much cooler then just a static icon theme and a new way of approaching icon set shapes, possibly a very strong UI/UX feature for Ubuntu :slight_smile:


That would be a really, REALLY cool feature…kinda like Android Oreo adaptive icons.

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Big fan of the paper / papirus icon sets, great icons with flat appearance, they are quite common in the linux world for good reason

I liked the idea of this theme: Ambiance & Radiance flat colors - I don’t think it’s the best looking theme out there just a good idea, to take ambiance as it currently is a not alter it all that much just make it flatter in effect.


Hey everyone. I’m the maintainer of the United theme that was based on Jovan Petrović’s 18.04 mockups. I’d love to help out with the effort. I can offer my time and CSS/SASS skills and help turn whatever mockups and ideas that come about into a working theme.


I’d be up for doing SASS/CSS, though the last time I contributed to anything Ubuntu related was theming

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Stefan Eduard Krenn, you are perfect in almost every way with your design.

Alas it isn’t a simple theme - would need a lot of programming work. But I love it!

I will play with some Extensions, I want to see how close I can get!

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Hi everyone! I’m glad to be able to be part of this!

I’m not a programmer, but I do have some ideas I would like to share with you. Maybe in due time, I will be able to contribute more. For now, my first thoughts:

I am, generally speaking, a fan of adjusting the ‘Ubuntu experience’ to become more of a vanilla GNOME experience. (See also my other posts.) I understand the need for a transition period with 17.10, but the sooner we can drop these adjustments, the better, to me. There is no need in telling you that I’m a fan of the vanilla GNOME workflow and looks.

Most important for me is 1) nice, modern and reinvigorated Ubuntu branding (with a slick new theme and icons) and 2) for Ubuntu to become the easiest LInux distribution to install, update, and install software in … just like in the pre-Unity period.

  • To me, the ideal default theme for 18.04 matches a non-gradient top bar, like the default GNOME top bar, which fits nicely with Adwaita’s light or dark top bars. If we go back to that, we won’t have to go to the trouble patching the top bar, and we’ll give users the ability to install more GNOME themes. I have tried to install United GNOME in Ubuntu Session, but the gradient top bar messes up the colours of the United GNOME Shell theme (both dark and light varients).

  • I am a fan of United GNOME, and we definitely need a theme with light and dark application possibilities, as well as light and dark variants to replace both Ambiance and Radiance. Why start from scratch? Is the developer willing to join and help?

  • As far as icons is concerned: I am all for the Suru Icon Theme. I like kazhnuz’s list of possibilities, and would like to add one. Is it an option to use the Adwaita Icon Set? … Maybe, just like the default Shell theme, adjust it to the Ubuntu branding colors?

I am really looking forward to see this community effort evolve and am willing to help out as best as I can. Thank you for taking my suggestions into consideration. (Some of them don’t belong in this particular forum, for which I apologize.)

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Charmander concept is beyond awesome, and the author of United Gnome theme does fantastic work, perhaps he should be contacted, he would probably love to contribute to the new Ubuntu theme. Theme I consider perfectly balanced is Arc Darker theme, Arc is too bright, Arc Dark is too dark which is why Arc Darker strikes a perfect balance and is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to look at. United Gnome has an excellent shell theme, but GTK themes are good, but lack the subtlety of the Arc Darker theme, but United Darker with more Ubuntu colored titlebars, not that black one, would look beautiful with a sprinkle of Charmander concept. Having a fully dark option would be good too as some users like fully dark themes.

Suru icons on Ubuntu Touch looked great and I believe Canonical should reuse a lot of them for the new theme. As for existing icon sets Numix Circle is beautiful, clean and very readable even by a casual glance. I dont like Papirus and similar icons, they lack the professional clean and easily readable look Numix icons have. Apple has great icons everywhere and that is something Ubuntu should strive for, professional looking, cleanly designed and easily readable icons. Most Linux icon packs are either too cluttered with design (too much stuffed on a single icon) so they are not easily readable by a casual glance, also often they choose colors poorly. Numix however does not suffer from these things for the most part and in my opinion is the best Linux icon theme overall, looks nice and professional and has high readability.

Users should not strain their eyes when they look at theme elements, colors and icons and should not spend any excess time “deciphering” icons they are looking at, they should be easily recognizable by a casual glance and easily remembered for their clean design which is why I personally consider United Gnome shell theme, Arc Darker GTK theme and Numix Circle icons the most professional and clean looking Linux theming I found. These plus Suru icons and Charmander concept would make for a fantastic new Ubuntu theme. Ubuntu should have a unique look and feel and new shell theme, GTK theme and icons would contribute heavily to that, lets make users marvel at the beauty of the next Ubuntu desktop :slight_smile: Something that will make Ubuntu desktop beautiful and instantly recognizable. I have zero skills in graphics so sadly I cant contribute with anything more than moral support and testing.


Hi, I believe it’s great idea and sound decision to base new Ubuntu theme on upstream theme.
Also I’ll be happy to contribute once you set up repo.

My “wishlist” for new theme (and dock):

  • Tighter window header bar (CSD) compared to upstream Adwaita theme. Shouldn’t be taller that it is in current GTK3 Ambience theme.

  • Favor good UX over bad trendy flat design. Find good balance. Don’t avoid using slight gradients and shadows where needed.

  • Icon theme without backdrops for consistency with 3rd party applications since most don’t have it (chrome, vscode, virtualbox…). Also upstream dash to dock extension has Enable Unity 7 glossy backlit items option which emulates Unity 7’s dock tiles and adds nice backdrop behind all docked icons for those who like it.

  • Now that I mentioned Dash to dock extension… option to switch between panel and dock mode as in upstream version would be really nice.
    Maybe you could use unmodified version of Dash to dock because it has some very nice and useful features. Then you could put only basic options to Setting > Dock and leave possibility to edit original options by right clicking on Show applications button as it currently works on original extension.

Also Pixel Saver extension could be installed (and maybe enabled) by default as it helps save some precious vertical screen real estate (something Unity 7 was very good at).



I am trying to get as close as possible to Stefan Eduard Krenn concept.

So far I am using Suru icons and United-Ubuntu theme…


  1. Is there a way to hide the activities button, and have the dock go all the way up/down, while still showing top bar?
  2. Is there an extension that anyone knows of which makes the activities view non-full screen / side view?
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Hey there!

I’m the lead developer working at System76 on the look and feel of Pop, and I’ve even put together a conceptual “Popiance” which takes colors from Ubuntu to make a new, modern looking theme. I’m also pretty well versed in GNOME Theme development, both on the Shell side as well as GTK. And I already happen to know a few of the folks involved on the Canonical side (@didrocks and @popey ). I’d love to work with everyone on making a new theme for Ubuntu!


Where can I get this theme [Popiance]?

Also, Stefan Eduard Krenn’s design is the most difficult, but (in my opinion) the most thought-out design. It would be difficult to get ready for 18.04 (really difficult), but at the same time, it would not be a bad goal to have and work toward (maybe over a few releases). I would love to see that happen!

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Sam’s suru reboot icons are superb:

I always liked the look and feel of unity 8, it had a true ‘next gen’ feel.


Great initiative. I love that the focus is put on building a collaboration team and not starting another pointless design competition. And it looks like we already have very talented and enthusiastic people here:

The guys from United Gnome GTK theme, Pop/Popiance, “Finding Ubuntu” concept… and of course, others that I don’t know of. I’d suggest (as others already did) contacting Sam Hewitt, the creator of the Suru icon theme and more awesome stuff.

Looks like a Dream Team could be in construction… although mixing good ingredients doesn’t always give a good recipe, so you never know :slight_smile: It will depend on how much they are willing to collaborate and even “detach” from their own projects for working towards something new. Talent is there, it’s all about collaboration now.

I don’t have experience in these matters so I’ll just follow along and try to give feedback when possible. I hope you keep the process open and we regular users can find a way to do that. Really looking forward to this!