Where is the background of the Unity (3D) launcher located? I would like to enhance the transparency of the launcher to make it fit better with light themes (such as Radiance). The actual transparency of the launcher suits only with darker themes (like Ambiance).

The file "launcher_background_middle.png" in /usr/share/unity/themes doesn't seem to affect the launcher transparency, and I haven't yet found out where the launcher background is. It should be a picture that can be edited with Gimp.

Thanks in advance for your help.

  • There have been variations of this question here before. As of now, it can't be done. Nobody has figured it out, at least. There are a bunch if us looking, so post here if you get it sorted out.
    – user18753
    May 27, 2011 at 22:49

3 Answers 3


Not for the faint of heart. You will have to compile unity from source. There is a script that does this automatically. You have to download this file.

Then open the terminal and cd to the directory you downloaded it to.

  • Now type ./build-unity.sh prerequisites
  • When finished type ./build-unity.sh clone

Now after it is done cloning, the fun can start. Browse to the directory you downloaded the build-unity.sh file and open the unity folder. Then open the src folder and open file launcher.cpp.

Search for this string

gPainter.Paint2DQuadColor (GfxContext, bkg_box, nux::Color(0xAA000000)

You can change the argb hex decimal to any color you want, A = alpha R = red G = green B = blue:


example 0x88008800 would about equal a green plus alpha

To color the dash, open PlacesView.cpp and search for

nux::Color (0.0f, 0.0f, 0.0f, 0.9f) 

example nux::Color (0.0f, 0.5f, 0.0f, 0.7f) which again equals green plus alpha

  • now you can type ./build-unity.sh configure
  • and when finished type `./build-unity.sh run

Here's the results enter image description here



(click to install)

The transparency of the launcher can be defined in MyUnity by a simple slide-bar

enter image description here

0% transparency enter image description here

100% transparency enter image description here


CompizConfig Settings Manager (CSM) found in System Settings, -> Desktop -> Ubuntu Unity Plugin -> Experimental Tab -> Panel Opacity

enter image description here


  • 1
    It's worth mentioning that the CompizConfig Settings Manager isn't installed by default, so that will need to be installed before this will work. May 27, 2011 at 18:10
  • I was not talking about the opacity of the top panel. My question regards the opacity of the launcher (the bar on the left where there are the icons of the programmes). I thought the title was clear.
    – Mattia
    May 27, 2011 at 19:39
  • CCSM allows you to edit the launcher opacity as well now, at least with currently upgraded packages in ubuntu 11.10.
    – tamale
    Nov 22, 2011 at 16:25

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