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The goal of this page is not to tell you how to design and implement a theme from scratch, but rather to convey some of the trickier and/or less documented parts of theming.


Suggesting a Wallpaper

In your index.theme file put a line like "BackgroundImage=/absolute/path/to/image.png" under the X-GNOME-Metatheme header. For packaged themes wallpapers should be assumed to be placed in /usr/share/wallpapers.

FIXME: Is it possible to set a specific solid color or gradient?

Setting the Background on Nautilus Special Places' Headers

To change the background color of the special headers in Search and CD-Creator put something like the following in your gtkrc:

  • style "extra-view-widgets" {
    • # Fx. The special header in Nautilus Search and CD Creator bg[NORMAL] = "#CD6127"
    } widget "*.nautilus-extra-view-widget" style:highest "extra-view-widgets"

Performance Tuning and Testing of Metacity Themes

To test a Metacity theme run

  • metacity-theme-viewer Human

to test the Human metacity theme for instance. Your theme should render properly in all the tabs. There's also a Benchmark tab - you can use this to compare rendering speeds with other themes. The fastest ones currently, appears to be Bright, Metabox and ArtworkTeam/SandSkater.

Performance of GTK+ Themes

There is a benchmarking tool for GTK+ themes called GtkPerf. You can download a .deb that works fine on Dapper from the website.

Pixel Precision

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you are missdrawing one pixel or it is just your eyes itching from hours of intense staring at the screen. Try running xmag from the command line and click on the screen area you want to inspect. This gives you a magnification of the area you click on.


  1. Designing Metacity Themes by Glynn Foster.

  2. GTK Resources Files documentation.

Sub-pages :


Artwork/Documentation/GTK-Themes (last edited 2009-04-12 19:46:03 by p508958A1)