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Ever since Apple came out with its Aqua interface I have had this perverse desire for everything on my machine to be as Aqua-like as digitally possible. So I set about collecting Aqua skins for all my apps and, where necessary, fiddling with them until they met my esthetic preferences. So here are my assorted Gnome/GTK+ skins, partly adapted from stuff I found on the Net and partly made from scratch.

The Enlightenment Aqua theme was created by Eric Yang who has long since disappeared from the web. I fiddled with it in some small places, more specifically I switched the normal and rollover states of the buttons, adapted the different states of window titlebar and buttons and picked another font for the menus and dialogs.

The GTK+ theme basically is a shameless ripoff and slight adaptation of AquaExtreme Sunken by roberTO [which itself is a gtk port of a Max Rudberg theme] since he seems to know his way around in the pixmap engine stuff for which I couldn't find any decent documentation. Also, some of the gtkrc hacks used in my *rc files were found in Boxx by Patrick Gerdsmeier and MacOS-X by Danny Wu & Steven Young. Almost all of the icons used in the theme were made by me, using original Aqua system icons, combined with some stuff from the default Gnome theme; if you see anything you think is originally yours, let me know. To show you what it looks like, here's a few screenshots.

my desktop
my desktop

This is my desktop, basically a combination of Enlightenment and Gnome: window management and decoration is done by E16 while the panels and menu are Gnome's. At left is a stack of gkrellms to keep an eye on my workstation, server and firewall on top of two epplets, one showing CPU activity, the other a screenshot epplet. Top right you see the Audacious player and playlist, both rolled up. Below that Gaim's main window and gDeskcal, to keep track of my appointments. At bottom right you see E's desktop pager: I use a constellation of 9 virtual desktops in a 3x3 configuration. The rest is an assortment of regular apps, among them Firefox, Thunderbird and Nautilus. The ripple effect at the bottom is an Enlightenment feature.

Better results [i.e. more OSX-like] could be realized with the new Beryl/Compiz transparency and drop shadow features but unfortunately that would involve using Metacity as window manager since E doesn't co-operate well with those. I say unfortunately since E offers a number of enhancements I can't live without that Metacity currently doesn't.

I have since indeed switched to Compiz and Emerald since the aforementioned drawbacks can mostly be solved using a few of Compiz' extensions. And I must say the results are pretty amazing, especially in combination with the Avant Window Navigator. The only thing I couldn't get to work automagically is the raise-lower keys; for some reason the compiz settings manager refuses to ack my settings. So every time I [re]start Compiz, I run a little script which uses the gconf editor to fix that:

#!/bin/sh

# wait for compiz to start up
sleep 5

gconftool-2 --type string --set \
            /apps/compiz/general/allscreens/options/lower_window_key \
            "<Control><Alt>Down"
gconftool-2 --type string --set \
            /apps/compiz/general/allscreens/options/raise_window_key \
            "<Control><Alt>Up"

The downside is that I have to run this script by hand since including it in my Gnome session won't cut it for some obscure reason.

Inserting the sleep 5 instruction gives Compiz time to startup properly; the script then runs OK.

Okay, back to the skins/themes/whatever which is what this page is about after all.

The Window Factory
The Window Factory

This is an app called 'the Window Factory'. It doesn't really do anything, other than showing a number of standard GTK+ controls. It is meant for theme designers to see how controls look in their theme. I included a screenshot just for that purpose: so you can see what controls look like with the Aqua GTK+ theme.

Gnome Control Panel
Gnome Control Panel
Gnome Alacarte menu editor
Gnome Alacarte menu editor
Gnome logout dialog
Gnome logout dialog

The previous three screenshots are included mainly to show off some of the icons I made to complement the GTK+ theme. As things stand currently I was able to replace almost all of Gnome's default icons with mine. There's still some that have escaped my sleuthing but I'm working on that.

Audacious audio player
Audacious audio player
Audacious audio player playlist
Audacious audio player playlist

The skin for the Audacious music player is a delightful little package called iTunes 6, made by TC Falcon and originally intended for WinAmp. I changed the logo and some of the buttons and generally fiddled around with it until it fitted in better with the rest of my desktop.

Gimp Preferences panel
Gimp Preferences panel

Didn't do much here since nothing much can be done. I made new icons for the preferences panel as shown here. That's about it.

gDesk Calendar
gDesk Calendar

This one is wholly mine. gDeskcal is a nice little app which does exactly what I want it to do which is keep my appointments within easy reach. The theme stuff wasn't too complicated [as opposed to some of the others which are sometimes really arcane] so I whipped up the skin for it you see here.

Pidgin GUIfications popup
away
Pidgin GUIfications popup
[click to cycle]

Last but not least, here's a set of popups I did for the Guifications extension of the Pidgin instant messenger app. The actual popup and message look different but you get the idea.


I found that a small number of apps won't let their icons be overruled by themes or skins [or I'm not clever enough to figure out how to do that]; in those few cases you need to overwrite the icons that come with the package [and you have to do this every time a new version of the package gets installed through updates]. Getting this to work involves a little sudo trickery since only root is allowed to overwrite the originals.

The packages I had to beat into submission using this roundabout way so far are the Audacious preferences panel icons, the gconf editor and gFTP as shown in the following screenshots

Audacious audio player preferences
Audacious audio player preferences

The Audacious preferences panel. These can be found in the /use/share/audacious/images folder.

Gnome Configuration Editor
Gnome Configuration Editor

The Gnome Configuration Editor. These can be found in the /use/share/pixmaps/gconf-editor folder.

gFTP file panel
gFTP file panel

The gFTP ftp client. These can be found in the /use/share/gftp folder.


In case your interest has been piqued, here is the Enlightenment theme, here is the GTK icon theme, here is the GTK controls theme, here is the Gimp icon theme, here is the GDesk Calendar theme, here is the Audacious theme and here is the GUIfications theme.

If you want to try your hand with the brute–force overwrite approach, here are the Configuration Editor icons, here are the Audacious Preferences icons and here are the gFTP icons.

In case you are looking for the skins I used for Firefox and Thunderbird, try this link. Comments and suggestions are also welcome.


Mac, Mac OS, Mac OS X, the Aqua UI, Apple and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Computer Inc., registered in the U.S. and other Countries.

These theme packages are not to be sold or otherwise used for profit. They are meant as a tribute to the GUI design skills of the people who conceived Aqua and the software design skills of the people who gave us themes, GTK+, Gnome and The Gimp.