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Question is same as title.

If I download different themes are they just backgrounds and colour combos or do they change the layout and working of the desktop like a launcher on my phone?

I have unity and have seen lots of different themes but do not know whether or not to download them if they are just colours and not changes of layouts.

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No, what you need are desktop environments. Have a look at… – user2239690 Jan 30 '14 at 17:58

No, the themes do not change the layout of Unity, GNOME, or KDE.

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