Make Ubuntu beautiful!

As I’ve already complained before, I’m really tired of the default Ubuntu desktop. Yes, it is practical and easy to use, but it’s basically unchanged ever since… forever. Maybe we can do something about it if we try hard enough.


So this is the default desktop right after finishing the installation. Very purplish-orangish and a bit Mac-like with the top panel. If you move the launcher from the left to the bottom, the similarity is even more pronounced.

The default Ubuntu 18.04 desktop

Well, to tell the truth, I don’t like the Mac either. Though I’m primarily a Linux user, at work I’ve been using Windows 10 for years and it is pretty much okay. Let’s turn the desktop into something more like that. To achieve this, we need to move both the launcher and the top panel to the bottom. Thankfully there is Gnome3 extension for that.

First we need to install a few programs, so we can set up the extension. Copy this to the terminal to enable Firefox installing and managing Gnome3 extensions:

sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell

Okay, now we can fire up Firefox (or restart it if it was already running) and go the the following address: https://extensions.gnome.org/extension/1160/dash-to-panel/

As you can see, we have a warning, we must install a browser extension too. Okay, let’s do it. Click on “Continue to Installation”.

Click on “Add”.

Click on “Okay, Got it”

Restart firefox to make sure that the extension works and go back to the extension’s page. Now there is a switch on the page that you can use to turn on the extension.

Click on “Install”.

After turning on the extension, the panels converge on the bottom just like on Windows.

Much better, but we still can do a bit more. Let’s continue with modifying the window icons a bit to make the user interface a bit more modern. To achieve this, we need to install a GTK theme and Gnome Tweaks to apply it. Copy these lines to the terminal:

sudo apt install gnome-tweak
sudo apt install numix-blue-gtk-theme

Launch Gnome Tweaks and change the theme of Applications from Ambience…

… to NumixBlue.

Although this seems to be only a tiny change, in my opinion, program windows look much better now.

Still, we are not finished yet. Maybe we can do something about those ugly icons on the panel. Let’s install the Numix circle icon pack with the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:numix/ppa
sudo apt install numix-icon-theme-circle

Now let’s use Gnome Tweaks to switch the Icons theme from the default value to Numix-Circle. If you don’t see the freshly installed icon theme in the list, close and launch Gnome Tweaks again.

Things are looking pretty great now, but the icons on the panel are a bit too far apart to my taste. Let’s do something about that too. Launch Firefox again and go back to the Dash to Panel extension’s homepage.

Next to the on/off switch, there is a settings button, click on that. Go to the “Style” tab and copy the settings on the screenshot to modify the dock’s appearance.

Yeah, we are getting there… but why is there still an ugly trash icon on the desktop? Why are there icons on the desktop at all? I hope I’m not the only one who doesn’t like icons littering my screen.

Fire up Gnome Tweaks again and go to the “Desktop” tab. You can enable and disable the default system icons or can disable all icons at once – which is what I did.

Now all there is to do is to find a nice wallpaper and we are done 🙂