An issue you will run into when customizing your Ubuntu/Gnome system and playing with themes is not having an easy way to change the color of your text and other aspects of your panels. The gnome-theme-manager applet doesn’t have those options, yet. Not being able to change the color is a problem when using transparency or dark themes; the default color for text is black.
But there *is* an easy way to change the color of your panels’ text, handles, window list button colors (hover, active, and normal), background, etc.
Don’t believe me?
Brent Roosshowed us how last year .
My only addition to his post is that you must change all the double-quotes when you paste the information to the file in your home folder by typing them in again. Why? Because WordPress’s format for quotes is to use smart quotes instead of straight quotes (see picture) and your changes won’t work if you don’t manually change them all to straight quotes.
Also, play around with the different options in that file by un-commenting the lines (removing the #) and changing the hex color code. You will find that you can change the colors for many different aspects of your panels. Just remember that you must do a ‘killall gnome-panel’ or use a “Refresh GUI” button every time you change and save the file.
You may also want to change the color of your tooltips.
Take a look at my Gnome Panels below (click to enlarge). I was able to change the text color from the default black so I can read it against my dark theme. By playing around with the other color options in the .gtkrc-2.0 file, I was also able to change the window list button hover color (Amarok) and the active color (The Gimp). The normal buttons (Kopete and Swiftfox) are simply from the theme itself, but they are changeable, too. You can also see that my tooltip color was changed (Amarok).
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Your first thought when reading the title of this post is probably, “WTF? Why would I need that?” Well, if you’re like me and you love customizing your Gnome system, you’ll know that during your customizations, you have to reload this and reload that for your new changes to take effect. Sometimes its simply because a change you did caused some problems and something didn’t load correctly. Whatever it is, most of the time it requires you to use the killall command in the terminal.
This is common enough for the Gnome panels and for Nautilus since it draws and handles the desktop by default. I was tired of pulling up a terminal window and typing in the killall commands to “refresh” my GUI or Desktop or repeating them if I had already ran them previously. Not that it takes that long to do. I just wanted a quick “button” I can click that will do it automatically.
So I did it myself. Not very complicated, really. Actually, it’s not complicated at all.
- Right-click the panel or drawer you want the button to be situated
- Select “Add to Panel…” and the “Add to Panel” window will open
- Click on the “Custom Application Launcher” at the top of the window
- In the Launcher Properties, select “Application in Terminal” as a Type
- Name it “Refresh GUI“
- For the command, type in: “killall gnome-panel nautilus” without the quotes
- For the comment, type in: “Reloads the panels and the desktop (Nautilus).” or whatever you want.
- Click on the “No icon” button and choose an icon of your choice.
- Click close and you’re done
Now, whenever you need to reload/refresh your Desktop, you can simply click on your brand-spanking new shiny button!
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As a new user, there comes a time (or there will come a time) when you are playing around with Ubuntu/Gnome, trying different themes, different engines, different window managers, etc, and all of a sudden you run into a problem that you can’t seem to find a way to fix it.
Maybe some of your customized settings are causing your gnome-panel to crash all the time or causing your windows and applications to look ugly, even having window buttons (close, minimize) disappear. You start Googling and spending a lot of time – sometimes days – trying to find how you can fix it.
You are frustrated (sometimes hitting your monitor/tower yelling some vulgarities at it as if it understands and you will kill it if it doesn’t fix it… there’s no Valentine’s love there, that’s for sure) and are ready to go back to Microsoft Windows.
You keep thinking, “I wish I could just reset it back to its defaults, like a clean install, without losing all my applications and data.”
Well, you’re in luck. There is a way to reset your Desktop settings back to their defaults. If you keep in mind that everything in Linux is a file, all of its settings are files. All of Gnome’s customizations are located in their own specific folders. And these settings are user specific; they are in your Home folder. If you would create another user and log in with that user, you wouldn’t have any of the problems you are having in your own account. If you remove all these folders, you essentially remove all the settings. Therefore, we will remove the folders needed to reset Ubuntu/Gnome back to its defaults.
UPDATE (): Keep in mind that this will only reset your Gnome-specific settings. If you are having problems with your video card, display, x-server, etc., this WILL NOT fix your problems.
If you don’t have access to your graphical (GUI) desktop to delete these folders in Nautilus or you’re stuck at the login screen, drop to a terminal by hitting CTRL + ALT + F1, login to your account, and run this command:
rm -rf .gnome .gnome2 .gconf .gconfd .metacity
Get back to your GUI desktop by hitting CTRL + ALT + F7.
Login and VOILÀ! Just like the first time you ever logged into your Gnome desktop.
In the “Adventures” series, a user asked to post a screenshot of my desktop to see the customizations I was talking about. It gave me the idea of posting my screenshot every time I made big changes to it. So I’ve decided to make it a regular thing here on Linux FUD.
You will find all of my screenshots HERE.
Although it isn’t what my desktop looked like at the time the customizations I mentioned in that post were made, here is my first screenshot… I call her “Glassy LiNsta”:
Click thumbnail to enlarge to full size.
UPDATE: The background can be found here: http://www.kde-look.org/content/show.php?content=37590
There isn’t anything special with this desktop. It’s just Gnome with some window borders, icons, and wallpaper that I downloaded from the GNOME-Look site. No extra software to achieve it. Well, I mean, you do see other applications in that screenshot, but they don’t alter the look of it. Maybe just complement them!
What do you think of it? I like the “freshness” of it… Maybe I should show you my GDM login screen, too. It goes perfectly with my desktop. I think it’s the best login screen around…
I love the look of my desktop.
At one point or another during all of the customizing I’ve been doing since I installed Ubuntu, my panel’s Menu Bar applet lost its transparency:
Even the Notification Area’s grab handle lost its transparency. I figured there may be something wrong with the panel itself, so I created a brand new one, added the Menu Bar applet, set the transparency, and yet again it wasn’t working.
I decided to create a brand new user account and log in to that to see if the transparency worked. And it worked! Obviously, this was a user-specific issue. I didn’t want to just start from scratch with a new user; I wanted to solve this.
On another note, I also noticed that when I changed my theme, the colors of most controls wouldn’t change. For example, when going through menus, the menu selection color was still the same and I couldn’t change it no matter what. Also, Amarok’s color theme wouldn’t change either. It was the same color as the old theme.
Then it dawned on me… Amarok is a KDE application. I have the KDE environment installed and that was my main environment for a while and I had customized it a lot. Could this be a KDE-affecting-Gnome issue? Is it even possible? But what would explain the menus and other Gnome components not changing colors?
I did some more research online and checked through a lot of my settings and files.
I finally found the culprit:
Under KDE, I had set the option of using my KDE style in all GTK applications, which – unbeknownst to me at the time – meant in all environments. I found this out in this post.
To fix it, I had to sign out of my Gnome Desktop and sign back into a KDE session. Then I went to [ KDE Menu > System Settings > Appearance > GTK Styles and Fonts ] and changed the “Use my KDE style in GTK applications” to “Use another style” and chose “Human” as the style.
I logged off from my KDE desktop, logged back in to my Gnome desktop, and I noticed a difference right away. It seemed the desktop loaded much faster and my controls were in their correct color.
I set the transparency on my panel and I was back to normal!
Thank god for a little research, Google, and the Ubuntu Forums, I didn’t have to resort to re-installing Ubuntu… which I was planning to do. It was much more rewarding to me, less time-consuming, and a good learning process than having to start from scratch.