Ubuntu 20.04 feedback (regarding theming and customizability)

So I just started using Gnome a few days ago coming from KDE (for performance reasons, Gnome seems to be more responsive once I have more than a handful of apps open). One thing I really don’t like is the default themes that come with the new ubuntu-gnome-desktop stuff. I tried installing the vanilla-gnome-desktop package, but it failed to start.

Anyways, there are a few things that peeve me.

  • The huge title bars for gtk apps
  • The login screen/theme
  • Lack of ability to customize

I’ve spent a few days trying to get it to look half way decent imo, but I frequently find myself being directed to edit css files and such to try and get desired effects, and then it doesn’t even work. I’ve installed the Flat remix theme, darkest, and it’s almost there, but I would still like a convenient way to

  • Change the size of title bars, even if it’s just from 3 different options, small, med, large
  • Change the login theme or at least the background image. That purple is incredibly ugly imho, and the alignment is off.

I understand the desire to have an identity for Ubuntu, a branding. But I do think that there is going to be a significant number of users who want to customize the look and feel of their desktop beyond what we’re able to do now, even if they like the Ubuntu/Yaru themes. For example in KDE we can install themes, and select the title bar from one, the window color from another, the shell/widget theme from yet another, the login and lockscreen themes can all be selected from different themes to mix and match. I think something like that would be great for Gnome. I understand that may not be possible for Ubuntu to do, but at least the ability to change the login screen background and size of the title bars from the settings app or tweaks tool would be great, and maybe an obvious way to setup background slideshow other than using Shotwell.

I think instead of focusing on what Ubuntu should look like, maybe focus on allowing the user to tweak it to their own personal taste, with the initial post install theme being whatever the Ubuntu team thinks should fit their branding, but understanding that it will most probably be changed by the user, and enabling them to do so.

So that’s my feedback, thanks for listening.

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The size of title bars is inplemented in themes. For example with the old Ubuntu theme: Capture%20d%E2%80%99%C3%A9cran%20de%202020-04-09%2001-37-54
but it doesn’t affect applications with big buttons on the title bar.

You can change the login background by editing a file of the yaru theme. It isn’t the same file depending on your Ubuntu version and idk how on Ubuntu 20.04

If you don’t like Yaru neither Adwaita, try some other theme like Materia or Matcha. Materia is a nice, well maintained, flat theme with many variants: light/standard/dark and compact/standard. It’s the default theme in Ubuntu Studio. Matcha is pretty cool and is shipped with Manjaro.

Don’t waste your time hacking themes, either you will end up breaking applications or new releases will end up breaking your hacks or both. Moreover, you will be more likely to get an inconsistent mix of themes and hacks when running Snaps or Flatpaks. If you’re someone who cares about the height of headerbars, I’m rather sure you will immediately notice that pastiche and regret having used your time like that.

Anyway, Adwaita is a great theme and you could also try to get used to the headerbars, they are not really that big for legacy apps but only for modern apps with CSD, in which case the comfortable size tends to make sense both functionally and visually. Don’t get yourself trapped into Parkinson’s law of triviality.

Once i was bothered by the CSD title bars too, but just by looking at some screenshots or testing it out for a brief moment on a VM, and not actually using it. I normally use Mint Cinnamon, which has shorter title bars and customizable height for menus, but i’m using 20.04 daily for some weeks now and somehow i don’t even notice the difference anymore. It would be nice to see some easy tweaks on that, but i can see why it would fall flat sooner or latter.

However, something i really didn’t understand is why the Yaru Dark Shell theme is not used when i switch to Dark Mode. Yaru Light Mode is all Light, Yaru Normal Mode is Darker GTK and Light Shell. So why Yaru Dark is not all Dark?
Today i’ve learned that i can switch to Dark Shell theme using User Themes extension and then enabling it via GnomeTweaks, which baffled me because i noticed that there is a Dark Shell theme that is never used! And it looks so good!!! I believe it’s the only thing missing to get an A.
Is there a good motive for that? Is it a bug? I know there were a lot of discussions about this but i couldn’t keep up with the threads.

Unfortunately, the headerbars are really that big for normal (not using CSD) apps. And no, this is not a trivial issue. I know several persons for whom big headerbars were one of the serious reasons to reject using Ubuntu. These needlessly wide headers are really ugly and this is indeed one of the reasons why people hate modern Ubuntu.
The discussions here about wide headers normally end up with the argument of “visual consistency”. I believe that hatred towards the whole system is too high price for the doubtful “visual consistency”.

Just get me right, I do like Yaru very much. Both icons and window theming. But these headerbars… so space-eating and ugly…

Until now people complained about Adwaita headerbar size, this is the first time I read a complaint about Yaru headerbars, let alone people rejecting Ubuntu because of that. Anyway, I believe you are confusing CSD headerbars, which are “cosy” by design, because they tend to include a lot of functionality compared to traditional SSD headerbars. Legacy (SSD) headerbars are pretty standard sized in Yaru and not that big in Adwaita. If you don’t like CSD, well… I’m sorry but you misfortunately are living in the wrong time :(. Maybe try Cinnamon xapps suite, but then you will have traditional menubars, and SSD headerbar + menubar > CSD menubar, which is more or less the whole point of the “cosy” trend.


Can’t believe something as simple as changing the login screen background still requires jumping through ridiculous hoops to achieve. The sheer amount of obsolete info still being thrown up by search engines doesn’t help either, neither does the inability by some contributors to write coherently.

Changing the login screen is not as simple a task as you suggest, you’re in a multi-user system and the display manager isn’t under direct control of your user nor runs using your user (fortunately!), so don’t expect to change that in the panel control inside your own session like if it were your wallpaper. That said, if you installed alternative sessions or themes, a variant might have been installed alongside that you might be able to change using update-alternatives. Short of that, if you really want to edit a css, take a look at https://askubuntu.com/a/1230109/840298. Honestly I see no good reason to jump through hoops in order to change a screen you rarely see and which doesn’t even belong to your user so it’s not unreasonable that it has a more “system-wide” feel.

it would be interesting to have a “guest session” … Ubuntu 20.04 LTS has to become an evidence for those people who’d like to get on linux without any particular knowledge or skills (managing a script is a skill). Also having “tweak tool” integrated which could change some “surface parameters” (and not deep… and dangerous ones) like the wallpaper of the logon screen connection for example would be very… very… very cool…
sorry for my english…

I actually mean headerbars of SSD (non-CSD) apps. I cannot call them “legacy” because they are the lion’s share of software in practical use like LibreOffice, Qt Creator, Double Commander, and a lot of others. Actually, this is almost all significant software for production and business. CSD apps are normally small helping utilities like GNOME core apps.

The point is that these are headers of the SSD apps which are too wide. Unnecessarily wide. It is quite understood that CSD apps have broad headerbars since they contain different controls. Moreover, many of CSD apps employ two-row title including additional information, like gedit, Evince, gitg. So it is explainable that CSD headerbars are wide enough to include all this stuff and that it can save some space for simple applications. But why in the world the headers of non-CSD software are that wide?! Just run, say, LibreOffice Writer and you see that cumbersome band filled with… almost nothing.

Get me right again, I’m actually not that aggressive against the width of the non-CSD headers how it may seem from my messages. But having feedback from fairly large community, I encountered severe rejection of non-CSD apps’ headers being so wide from several persons. So I’m trying to express not only my personal opinion but also what I hear from other users.

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