Themes Ubuntu

Ubuntu 16.04 – My Experience so Far and Customization

Ubuntu Flatabulous Theme and Ultraflat Icons
Written by Jesse Afolabi

Every single time I come back to Ubuntu, the first thing that usually comes to my mind is changing the looks of the whole thing.

I’m sure by now you know how boring the stock interface of Ubuntu’s Unity 7 is….makes me wanna cry.

While I earnestly anticipated the release of Unity 8 with Xenial Xerus (after watching a couple of videos that showcased its function), I was utterly disappointed that Canonical was going to further push its release — even though it was originally meant to debut with Ubuntu 14.04.

Back to the point at hand, I immediately went ahead and installed Unity Tweak Tool, moved my dash to the bottom (very important) and then proceeded to replace Nautilus with the extensive Nemo file manager which is native to Linux Mint and by far superior to the former (my opinion).

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It wasn’t so hard getting the themes I needed to get the perfect desktop; but before I proceed with how I got those worked out, I should quickly run down the quirks I’ve experienced in 16.04 Xenial Xerus so far.

Out of the box, experience is just ruined

I wouldn’t say I was riddled with bugs but there were more than a few annoyances which (truly) is one of the things that drive newbies away from Linux.

Given how far Ubuntu has come over the years, I couldn’t perform the simplest of tasks like installing an application from the new software center. It just wouldn’t work! While I’m sure the issues will be ironed out with future updates, this certainly isn’t the experience newbies will be hoping for and they could easily be discouraged from continuing their journey in the Linux world.

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I had to go with the terminal way of doing things and while I was successful with that, my system froze more than a couple times in which cases I had to do a force restart.

I, however, overcame most of these hiccups after receiving my first system update. But then, the Software center bug remained.

Asides that, the Unity dash is slow to respond – clicking on the icon and typing in the search bar are mostly when I experience a notable latency. Hopefully, this would be fixed sooner than later.

Ubuntu Customization

Disclaimer: This is not necessarily my recommendation for you if you’re looking to customize your Ubuntu system, but then, I’m a reasonable human being so I will have a list of themes and icons sets you can use with your Ubuntu system in the nearer future — so be on the lookout.

My favorite theming option is the self-acclaimed “best theme for Ubuntu” Flatabulous coupled with the Ultra flat icons – that come in the colors of blue, orange, bright orange and green – from the same project.

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While the Flatabulous theme is nice and consistent, it’s not so materialistic and has some minor flaws in Unity; but it’s alright for the most part.

The Ultra flat icon set on the other hand is pretty great and like the Flatabulous theme, it’s Material inspired and essentially a flatter version of Numix.

If you care to install the Flatabulous theme and the Ultraflat icon set, then you may fire up your terminal and copy the following commands as needed to execute.

But before anything, you must have the Unity Tweak Tool installed; without it, you won’t be able to make the necessary theme and icon change.

The Unity Tweak Tool is available in the standard Ubuntu repo. Alternatively, you can download the .deb file from here.

Download Flatabulous theme

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/themes
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install flatabulous-theme

Download Ultra-flat icons

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

What do you like or hate about Ubuntu Xenial Xerus so far? Let us know in the comments!

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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.

  • Svobi

    Look really fresh ! thx

    • Jesse Afolabi

      you’re welcome Svobi 🙂

  • Srinivas Kotaru

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa

    $ sudo apt-get update

    $ sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak

    is not working. saying repo 404 error

    Err:8 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 Packages

    404 Not Found [IP: 91.189.95.83 80]

    Err:9 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main i386 Packages

    404 Not Found [IP: 91.189.95.83 80]

    Ign:10 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main all Packages

    Ign:11 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main Translation-en_US

    Ign:12 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main Translation-en

    Ign:13 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main amd64 DEP-11 Metadata

    Ign:14 http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial/main DEP-11 64×64 Icons

    Fetched 185 kB in 27s (6,650 B/s)

    Reading package lists… Done

    W: https://repo.varnish-cache.org/ubuntu/dists/trusty/InRelease: Signature by key E98C6BBBA1CBC5C3EB2DF21C60E7C096C4DEFFEB uses weak digest algorithm (SHA1)

    W: The repository ‘http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu xenial Release’ does not have a Release file.

    N: Data from such a repository can’t be authenticated and is therefore potentially dangerous to use.

    N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.

    E: Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu/dists/xenial/main/binary-amd64/Packages 404 Not Found [IP: 91.189.95.83 80]

    E: Failed to fetch http://ppa.launchpad.net/tualatrix/ppa/ubuntu/dists/xenial/main/binary-i386/Packages 404 Not Found [IP: 91.189.95.83 80]

    E: Some index files failed to download. They have been ignored, or old ones used instead.

  • Srinivas Kotaru

    am still seeing same error.tweek tool was installed successfully

    # sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/themes
    # sudo apt-get update

    # sudo apt-get install flatabulous-theme
    Reading package lists… Done
    Building dependency tree
    Reading state information… Done
    E: Unable to locate package flatabulous-theme

    was able to install icon pack by adding 2nd repo mentioned in the article. only problem with theme

    • Jesse Afolabi

      i initially had an issue installing the theme myself but then i got in touch with them and they told me they were hard at work on making flatabulous work with 16.04…its probably going through some refinement (again) …. give it a couple of days and try again..

  • jawnhenry

    I don’t understand…you are obviously a very intelligent person. Why not simply install Mint Linux and be say ‘good-bye’ to all the aggravation(s) of Ubuntu?

    • Jesse Afolabi

      thank you :D…you know what they say, if you dont try, you never know…i’m not gonna be on Ubuntu forever..i’ll be moving on soon enough ..such is the life of a distro hopper..

  • Albin

    I’ve been using Ubuntu and spin-offs since 10.04, Mint in recent years. I honestly think there’s a problem with the way Ubuntu managers its releases – the “LTS” x.04 is often bug-fixed and much improved in the fall release x.10, but the lifespan of those non-LTS versions has been radically shortened to where newcomers should be warned of the need for a system reinstall in a few months. Frankly I’d suggest Ubuntu simply label the series of non-LTS releases “beta”, instead of pretending they are of use to ordinary end-users, and be more focused on prime-time readyness and maintenance of the LTS. I gave 16.04 MATE a spin on a thumb drive and found it unrefined as compared with Mint’s 14.04 MATE release, which is now 17.3, which is the third “point release” that has kept it fresh with easy in-place updates never needing a fresh install in two years of use.

    The Mint focus on building from and improving the LTS instead of leaving it in the rear view mirror as Ubuntu does, is paying off in a refined product and growing user-base.

    • Jesse Afolabi

      i couldn’t agree more with you Albin…but i don’t see Canonical making any changes with their system of release anytime soon, i don’t suppose it would justify traditional Ubuntu as a system for day to day use either…..the Ubuntu spinoffs like MInt et ‘al remain the way to go for anyone looking for rigid stability..

  • Kevin Traub

    Ubuntu-Mate mate. Works great!

    • Jesse Afolabi

      do you mean the Flatabulous theme or Mate itself?

  • Darshan Parab

    Hey. That was a nice article. Short and sweet. But i have difficulties installing flatabulous theme. it says “unable to locate the package”. Commands followed exactly as it is. Any suggestions?

    • Jesse Afolabi

      Thank you 🙂 … I believe that they are working on the ppa from the backend which is why its temporarily unavailable as i had issues installing it at first too …try again in a few days cause that’s the only channel through which you can get it atm..

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  • I recommend to use appgrid instead of the buggy new default software centre Gnome software 😉

    • Jesse Afolabi

      The Gnome software got better though with recent upgrades…so it’s not as bad as before.

  • Chris Hepburn

    Thank you so much – absolutely love Flatabulous and the Ultra-Flat Icons – can you tell me how you got the OSX type windows controls shown in your desktop?

    • Jesse Afolabi

      You’re welcome 🙂 …it’s been a while since i last used this setup, i believe it’s the Flatabulous theme

      • Chris Hepburn

        Thanks for the reply – sorry – could not figure out how to get the ‘tri-colored’ buttons – using ubuntu MATE 16.04 – theme and icons working great however

        Nice work!

        • Jesse Afolabi

          You’re welcome Chris…i’ll try reinstalling it with the same setup on Mate and see how it pans out. If i’m lucky to get the same result as in the article, i will update the procedure with how end-results may vary depending on DE.

        • Chris Hepburn

          Thanks again – just to help – In Appearance Preferences I have – Controls = Flatabulous; Colors = Default; Window Border = Flatabulous; Icons = Ultra-Flat-Icons; – and in MATE Tweak – I have the buttons located to the left of the window – but instead of ‘tri-color’ Mac style buttons – I have a round red ‘x’ for close – and dark grey round buttons for min and max – all on a light grey background – yours shows the three colored round buttons on a black border – which leads me to believe it is not standard ‘flatabulous’ theme?

      • Chris Hepburn

        Thanks for the reply – sorry – could not figure out how to get the ‘tri-colored’ buttons – using ubuntu MATE 16.04 – theme and icons working great however
        Nice work!

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