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6 Material-Inspired Themes/Icons for Your Linux Desktop

Material Inspired Ubuntu Icon Themes
Written by Jesse Afolabi

What is a Linux desktop if it ain’t filled with eye candy? Here we have a list of Material inspired/flat-feeling Themes and Icons to beautify the GUI of your system so you may customize it to your hearts’ content.

While there are more than a few themes and icons that will effectively function with your Linux system, I’ve scoured the web to make this compilation particularly because I’ve grown a liking for all things flat in relation to the looks and feel of any operating system.

Also given that it’s an ongoing trend, (from Microsoft’s Window’s 10, to the Android operating system and even Apple’s iOS) in the software industry as a whole, you might as well bring the flat feel to your Ubuntu, Arch, Fedora, or whatever distribution you may be rocking.

Hewitt’s Paper Theme and Icons

Paper is a GTK 2/3 based theme that works best with desktop environments using the Gnome shell and it’s about the closest to an Android look and feel you can have on you Linux desktop – this project especially follows Google’s guidelines except for a few modifications here and there for better scaling of the icons and some other elements. However, the Paper theme is still in a beta stage and isn’t exactly ready for prime time as its still lacking a rather long list of icons in its set.

Hewith's Paper Theme and Icons

Hewitt’s Paper Theme and Icons

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Another interesting feature available in the theme is the custom colored title bars as seen in the image above which adds an extra personality to the theme itself but then, only a few apps (gedit, calculator, and notes) are custom colored for now while the rest of the applications default to Gray.

Sam Hewitt who is the developer of the project says that the set will be complete with most icons and plank themes too when it finally hits stable.

You can get Paper GTK theme for Ubuntu and derivatives via this unstable PPA.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:snwh/pulp
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install paper-gtk-theme

If you’re on Arch, however, you can get it from the AUR.

Once you install the theme and icons, make sure you have Tweak Tool to make the necessary changes.

  United GNOME - A Unity 8-Inspired Theme for the GNOME Shell

You can get the Unity Tweak Tool from the standard Ubuntu repo; alternatively, you can install the GNOME Tweak Tool which is also available in the repo.

$ sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool     [Unity Tweak Tool]
$ sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool     [Gnome Tweak Tool]

Unfortunately, there aren’t any repos for other distribution types, however, there is the option to compile from source from by following the instructions here.

It’s noteworthy that Sam Hewitt is also responsible for the Moka theme and icons available on Linux and Android.

Flatabulous Theme and Icons

Rocking this theme right now together with the Ultra-flat icons counterpart (that belongs in the same project) in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS. Flatabulous is especially suited for distributions using the GNOME shell (that is about 80% of all Linux distributions) and has an amazing set of icons (something for just about everything) that is available in multiple color options of green, light orange, orange, and blue (default).

Flatabulous Theme and Icons

Flatabulous Theme and Icons

Flatabulous nicely conforms and holds the reputation as the best theme for Ubuntu – while it’s basically self-glorification, I must say Flatabulous lives quite up to its claim and works great with my Unity DE for the most part.

I’ve also had it installed on multiple systems in the past including eOS, MATE, and Cinnamon – all of which worked flawlessly.

For those users, who want to install it, open terminal and run the following series of commands to install Flatabulous icon theme:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/icons
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install ultra-flat-icons ultra-flat-icons-green ultra-flat-icons-orange

For other Linux distributions, instructions can be found here.

Luv (Formerly Flattr)

This is yet another GTK-based theme with the basic material-inspired icons that are visible all through the operating system, however, Luv is mainly an icon set and has no theme bundled with it.

Luv Flattr Icon Theme

Luv Flattr Icon Theme

Luv is hugely undone as it lacks a quite a number of icons but overall impressive nonetheless. You can always track the progress of development on their GitHub.

The installation instructions for Luv (Formerly Flattr) theme, can be found here.

Mono Dark Flattr (icon theme)

From their GiHub page, “Mono Dark Flattr is yet another icon theme for Linux desktops that was forked from Flattr (NitruxSA/flattr-icons) and Ultra-Flat-Icons (steftrikia). The aim is to combine the latest flat design trend with Ambiance/Mono Dark themes (still widely spread among GNOME 3 Fallback Session (Classic) users on recent Ubuntu systems)”.

Mono Dark Flattr

Mono Dark Flattr

Reiterating the statement, Mono Dark Flattr combines Luv (Flattr) and Ultra-flat icons from two distinctly different projects to give you the best of both worlds.

  Arc-Theme-Red is a Variation of the Popular Arc Theme For Linux Desktops

To install Mono Dark Flattr icon theme, follow their instructions here.

Vivacious Colors GTK Icon Theme

Vivacious is another icon suite that follows the concept of combining already existing icon sets with some added tweaks for consistency on the desktop. Vivacious is as a result of the combination of Luv (Flattr), Emerald and Plasma-next.

Vivacious Colors GTK Icon Theme

Vivacious Colors GTK Icon Theme

What’s more, Vivacious gives you a combination of 14 different colors to choose from for your file manager via an extension and like the aforementioned theme and icons, it works with desktop environments using GTK technologies.

Vivacious like Mono Dark Flattr is only an icon set and can be used in combination with other themes like Flatabulous or Paper to give unified Material experience.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ravefinity-project/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install vivacious-colors 

For other Linux distributions, installation instructions can be found here.

Super Flat Remix Icon Theme

This is yet another icon theme derived from a combination of already existing projects and it’s easily one of the better and complete suites on this list that features support for the most common DEs.

Super Flat Remix Icon Theme

Super Flat Remix Icon Theme

You can download and install the theme from here.

For all the themes in a zip package, once downloaded, “extract to /usr/share/themes” and use the Unity Tweak Tool to make the necessary changes.

Bottom line

Most of these themes and icons have been tested on different desktop environments including Unity, KDE, Pantheon, Mate, and Cinnamon and they were mostly functional and effective for the most part.

While these themes/icons will make for a great desktop experience, it’s not complete without some nice Material wallpapers to boot – You can download our collection of Material wallpapers (totaling 181) from the below link and don’t forget to leave your comments down below!

Download 181 Material Wallpapers

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About the author

Jesse Afolabi

Jesse is that tech enthusiast you never heard of...he's mainly into things relating to Linux and Android and has an unending passion for both platforms which is why he writes about them.

  • James LaBarre

    Oh good, a list of themes to **AVOID** at all costs. The further I can keep my system from that abomination known as “Material Design” the better.

    • Jesse Afolabi

      it actually does appeal to more people than you may think…but then it’s always a matter of preference so i understand if this list doesn’t appeal to you. I’ll however have another generlized list up so you can always be on the lookout for that..

    • Thoms

      ^There’s always a party pooper^

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  • Aaron Kili K

    Thanks for the article, these are some great themes.

    • Jesse Afolabi

      you’re welcome 🙂

  • Pingback: Poll: What is The Best Material Designed Theme/Icons on Linux?()

  • Ariel Campos

    Yeah, I really like some of these icon themes. I will try . Thanks

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  • Jyrki

    I have support James LaBarre. This is definitely “must to avoid”.

  • Erik Isidoro

    Please, can you tell me what’s the GTK Theme in the post image at the very top? Also, what music player is that? Thanks

  • Matej Vrzala (M4)

    finally nice themes

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