NanaBuluku's avatar


By NanaBuluku
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#requires nautilus elementary

I really should put a disclaimer on these pbr (panel button replacement) themes, you should only really try it out if the instructions I give seem like I'm being too detailed. The only reason for this is that if you somehow lose the default Ambiance theme you will have to hunt down the light-themes package in Synaptic and reinstall it. Also, don't hesitate to ask a question in the reply box or sling me an email if you're having trouble!

Also, I'm almost certain that if a new version of the light-themes package is dropped it will overwrite a theme installed in this way.

This is strictly intended for use with unity on ubuntu 11.04

All kudos to the elementary team (gtk) and the Ambiance team (metacity), everything released under GPL.


1. Backup and/or rename the original Ambiance theme.

2. If you want it to theme the GDM and when sudoed then extract Ambiance.tar.gz into "/usr/share/themes" (after you have done step 1). Then do step 3.

3. Otherwise you can just copy the included "metacity-1" folder into "/usr/share/themes/Ambiance" and choose to merge and replace all. Then do step 4.

4. Then drag Ambiance.tar.gz to the Appearance Preferences theme tab and deselect then reselect Ambiance.


Tip: In order to copy to the "/usr/share/themes" folder you must open the nautilus file manager with privileges.

To do this press Alt-F2 and type:

gksu nautilus


Undo! Undo!

Ok, If you don't want to use it any more:

1. If you renamed Ambiance then simply name it "Ambiance" again after removing the fake Ambiance elementary theme in both "/usr/share/themes" and "/home/(yourusername)/.themes".

2. If you moved the original Ambiance theme folder out of "/usr/share/themes/" simply open nautilus with privileges and copy your Ambiance backup folder (make sure it's named it "Ambiance") to "/usr/share/themes/". After you've removed both the fake Ambiance elementary theme in both "/usr/share/themes" and "/home/(yourusername)/.themes"

Then unselect and reselect the Ambiance theme in Appearance Preferences




Maximised window buttons now more closely resemble elementary buttons.

Unmaximised windows now use default elementary metacity window theme.
© 2011 - 2020 NanaBuluku
anonymous's avatar
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simplygreat's avatar
Hi, Thanks for your work !

Based on what you've done, I made a few improvements/fixes regarding to the GTK theme (the metacity theme is untouched). Please take a look :D
DavidRaid's avatar
This is a great workaround to changing the panel window controls!
Do you plan on adding elementary like mouse-over and pressed tweaked images?

Is it just me or whenever you use a theme other than Radiance or Ambiance, the window decorations appear frozen? The text in the title doesn't change to active or inactive until you force the window to 'refresh' by resizing it.
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
I decided to make it simply so I could use the elementary theme with Unity without it looking too out of place. There are a number of issues that I'd like to fix. Because the minimize and maximize buttons in the elementary theme are not images but drawn by the metacity window manager I had to replicate them with png images and I haven't gotten around to adding prelight, focus etc. Also the prelight in lists such as the main evolution mail frame washes out the text which renders it almost unusable. app-indicator bg,fg,text colours also need fixing.

The main problem with spending a lot of time to fix all these (and other) issues is that this is just an interim hack. Unity panel will most likely add proper theme support in this release cycle, and this coupled with the upgrade to gtk-3.0 will render this hack and even the elementary theme itself obsolete.

Feel free to tinker away with the metacity and theme, it would still be good to have access to a decent elementary theme for the next couple of months before upgrading to Oneiric.
DavidRaid's avatar
I completely agree with your reasoning, I'm looking forward to the gtk-3.0 move and future theme efforts, I, and many others, strongly appreciate your panel hack for the internim.

One of the things I'd mentioned turns out to have actually been a bug.

When installing the proprietary ATI driver (fglrx), Compiz stops rendering the window decorations properly for third party themes (all themes but Ambiance and Radiance, strangely.) and the window decorations appear frozen until resized.

This meant that when using your theme (I hadn't used the regular elementary theme long enough due to the unthemed panel to notice the problem) I couldn't see the prelight mouse-hover changes when moving my cursor over the window controls. I thought it was a Unity problem or some new window control system Unity used (due to Ambiance and Radiance working) like the panel theme itself. :p
ThreatDown's avatar
excellent work, my friend!

Did find one bug though with the tabs in system monitor, the top gets cut off:
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
Ahhh, thanks for the heads up!

I wonder if the original elementary theme also does this as I haven't actually tweaked the theme very much except to enable dark panel/menus and replicate the window buttons for the panel.

...actually I DID give the tabs a small gap and this may have effected the height of the selected tab somehow...
ThreatDown's avatar
I actually just decided to drop the regular elementary's gtk theme in to see if that fixed it but the bug is there too, so it seems like its a bug with the regular theme too.
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
Cool, cheers! It still may be something I can fix by decreasing the height of tabs. I'm horrendously busy at the moment but I'll post an update when I get around to fixing it.
ThreatDown's avatar
I haven't used the regular one too recently but I don't remember it having the issue. It also does it in pidgin.
cneo97's avatar
oO It's awesome. Sincerely, I love it.

It worked for me the second way (metacity-1 to /usr/share/themes, and the tar.gz to appeareance-settings), but I still have some kind of trouble with nautilus (I have nautilus-elementary installed), this is how it looks: [link]

Any idea of what should I do?
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
Hi, cheers for the kudos!

Have enabled breadcrumbs under edit>preferences>tweaks?

After doing this you may need to log out and back in for it to take effect.
cneo97's avatar
Ooook, it was my fault. I did "upgrade" whet trying to install nautilus-elementary instead of "dist-upgrade".

It's look almost perfect now ^^, i only have to set my icon-theme.

Thanks for your work ;-)
cneo97's avatar
a) Sorry for the triple-posting.

b) Sorry for making english-language-itself cry. I meant "It looks almost perfect now".
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
That's ok post away! I'm glad it worked out. Also your English is fine.
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
Cheers for the stat point! Surely I can now wield the sword of illusion...or something...
pebcak's avatar
Isn't that nice... "only ubuntu". Maybe you should go to #ubuntu-lounge then.
NanaBuluku's avatar
NanaBulukuHobbyist Interface Designer
Point taken, as the unity shell is only used by one linux distro at the moment it might be better to post something like this in a more specific group.

Cheers bud!
anonymous's avatar
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