Customizing Unity



With Linux, it is easy to customize many settings and features including appearance. Unity (one of many desktopinterfaces) is no exception. Unity is the desktop interface that is maintained and developed by Canonical. Canonical uses Unity as the default interface for their popular operating system - Ubuntu. Users can easily change the theme, cursor, icons, and fonts used in Unity.

In the first step, the user must install "Unity Tweak Tool" and add some repositories for icons, themes, and cursors (many fonts already come with Ubuntu). Open a terminal, copy the text below, and paste it (ctrl-shift-v) in the terminal. To finish this step, hit enter.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freyja-dev/unity-tweak-tool-daily; sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/icons; sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/themes; sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/icons2; sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/malys-themes; sudo add-apt-repository ppa:noobslab/swar-themes; sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool

To explain what is happening, the code put in a terminal uses root privileges to add some repositories (sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lpUSER/lpPROJECT). Then, `sudo apt-get update` updates the user's available app list. Finally, `sudo apt-get install unity-tweak-tool` installs the tweak tool. The user may need to answer some questions in the terminal.

As the next step, after the task’s completion, open a package manager and install some themes, icons, and cursors of choice. Synaptic or Ubuntu Software Center would each work well. The theme, icon, and cursor repositories added above are all made by Noobslab, so searching by maker may help (search for Noobslab).

After installing the desired files, start the third step by opening Unity Tweak Tool. This can be done by clicking the button on the top of the launcher to the left. In the search box, type "unity tweak tool". Once found, click the tweak tool.



Click "Themes" and select a theme. NOTE: Users may need to logout and log back in to see the theme change.


Next, click the following tap at the top, "Icons". Select an icon theme, and once chosen, click the "Cursor" tab.


The user can then select a cursor. NOTE: there seems to be a bug somewhere in the operating system; the cursor does not remain the same in all windows (Launchpad Bug: 1180165; Link: bug/1180165).


The next tab is “Fonts”. Select the preferred font. Adjusting the "Hinting" and "Antialiasing" may help to acquire the best appearing fonts. For illustration, if a user wished that all of their fonts were Ubuntu Light, then this is what they could do:

Under "General", there are four menus.


A. Default font - the font used in most places. Click the font name which causes a window to appear. Select the desired font. In this case, the user would choose Ubuntu Light. At the bottom of the window, one would see a number box and a number slider. Use either one to choose the font size.


NOTE: do not make the fonts too large or many applications will look odd, the system will be slow or lock up, and the user will have difficulties undoing this weird mistake. Even after the large font is made small again, some applications will look odd, so close and reopen the applications. NOTE: do not make the font too small, or the user will not be able to undo this change.


After the fonts are made small again, but the applications have not been restarted:


B. Document font - the font used when viewing a text document in an application whether that be a plain text file in Gedit or a ODT in LibreOffice. Click the font name and repeat the selection process that was used in picking a default font.

C. Monospace font - the font used in terminals or other applications that require a monospace font. A monospace font is a font with equally sized letters horizontally, e.g. a "w" takes up as much width as an "i", like the letters in most newspapers. The selection window is no different here.

D. Window title font - the font used in the title bars of windows. As with the previous fonts, the selection process is the same.

Once the user has made their selections, they can change the hinting and antialiasing under "Appearance". Hinting controls how the pixels are displayed on the screen. Full hinting makes the fonts appear more clear. As long as the user's screen supports it, set hinting to full. Antialiasing is a method that reduces aliasing which makes the font appear fuzzy or blurry. This should be set to "RGBA", a specific algorithm that makes the fonts appear clear.

For the final step; logout and then log back into the system for the changes to take place.

After the loading has finished, the user may see if they like the selected items. The user may wish to tweak their selections for a better look. Some themes may be difficult to see or cause eye strain. Some icons may appear aesthetically poor with some themes, or various fonts may not go well with a theme. The user can just reopen Unity Tweak Tool and make different choices.

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