As the title suggests. Selecting a background image, color or using the transparency sitting doesn't work with the Ambiance theme.

Sections of the panel will take the new settings, but many of the applets including the clock, Indicator Applet Session, Indicator Applet, Rhythmbox icon, Tomboy Icon, Separators and various others retain the Ambiance theme background. This carries over through restart.

Also you cannot resize the panel in Ambiance above 24 pixels as the background image doesn't scale.

Am I doing something wrong, is it a bug or is it meant to be like that?

I really like Ambiance, but am having a hard time using it because of these issues

Edit: It seems these issues carry over to Radiance and New Wave as well

4 Answers 4


This is indeed a bug with a current bug report: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/664794

Click up at the top and mark this bug as affecting you as well.

The problem isn't just the Theme Ambiance, it is actually the "Controls" Ambiance. Clicking "Customize" and changing "Controls" to another one should fix this, while changing the "Controls" for any other them to Ambiance will cause this bug as well.


It looks like that because the Ambiance theme uses images for the panel applets and background. Changing the preferences of the panel only changes the background theme and not the applet theme.

You can fix this by commenting out or removing the include "apps/gnome-panel.rc" line in /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc.

  • 2
    This is a much better fix than simply changing the entire theme. This is the very reason the gnome-panel.rc is in a separate file :) Feb 28, 2011 at 17:36

a better way is to do the following edit file /usr/share/themes/Ambiance/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

comment out the line by adding a single # in front of the line. bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "panel_bg.png"

effectively the line becomes

# bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "panel_bg.png"

that removes the panel background.


If you've got more than one user on the computer, and some of them don't use transparency and like the gradient, you can make a copy of Ambiance for yourself and modify the panel controller for yourself.

To start, copy ambiance sudo cp -r /usr/share/themes/Ambiance ~/.themes

Next go into your copy of ambiance and modify the gnome panel:
sudo gedit ~/.themes/Ambiance/gtk-32.0/apps/gnome-panel.rc

In gedit, the 10th line reads bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "img/panel.png".
Change this so that the line is commented out #bg_pixmap[NORMAL] = "img/panel.png".

The reason you only comment it out is so that if you ever want to go back to using it, you can without looking up anything else.

You now have the ability to have a panel of any height you want without any stylistic repercussions, and transparencies should work.

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