Eventually, I'd like to create a proper 11.10 theme and perhaps distribute a package via ppa. To start, I thought I'd copy one of the "official" themes on my local system and start modifying it.

After a google search, this question suggested a simple approach: How do I make a Theme from scratch for Unity?

So I copied /usr/share/themes/Ambiance to /usr/share/themes/MikesExperiment, and edited several text files to change the name appropriately. However, the new theme does not show up automatically in the new 11.10 appearance tab under System Settings, alongside Ambiance and Radiance, and I have to use gnome-tweak-tool to select it.

How do I get my theme to show up on that list?

Thanks, Mike.

  • 1
    I too have found that, and needed to use the gnome-tweak-tool to switch. Not sure why myself, would like to know though.
    – duffydack
    Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 20:34
  • @duffydack Yeah, I'm using gnome-tweak-tool to test things out, but it would be nice to do it right. Commented Oct 21, 2011 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


I took a look at the source code for gnome-control-center (specifically the cc-background-panel.c file) and found the answer. The list appears to be hard-coded in the source:

static gchar *themes[] = { "Adwaita", "Ambiance", "Radiance", "HighContrast",
    "HighContrastInverse" };

This was added by Ubuntu (in 04_add_theme_selection.patch) to the original gnome 3 gnome-control-center source. It appears that they did not plan to allow anyone to add 11.10 themes at this time. Presumably the list will be editable or generated dynamically in future versions of Ubuntu's theme selection patch.

  • 1
    feeling down knowing this
    – Anwar
    Commented May 9, 2012 at 15:31
  • Is this still the best solution for 12.04? Seems pretty crazy. Gnome-tweak-tool lets me select themes I've added to /usr/share/themes for the window theme, but they do not appear in the Theme list under Settings -> Appearance
    – cboettig
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 18:43
  • 1
    This hasn't changed yet - here is the current status in Quantal (12.10). Commented May 14, 2012 at 21:36

If you have root access to /usr/share/themes you could also recycle one of the hardcoded theme names for your experiment, e.g:

sudo mv /usr/share/themes/Adwaita /usr/share/themes/Adwaita.old
sudo ln -s /path/to/your/theme /usr/share/themes/Adwaita

Obviously your theme will show up as 'Adwaita' in Settings -> Appearance. Not very elegant, but functional ;-)

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