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How to get the old school Linux look with OneStepBack

Tired of the way all modern custom Linux themes look? Sick of the flat trend? Exhausted with “material design?” Try the Retro OneStepBack theme on for size!

What is OneStepBack? It’s a loving GTK theme for the Linux desktop environment that looks like Steve Job’s NextStep operating system. It comes in a variety of colors and tries it’s best to mimic the look of the old NeXT days.

Note: OneStepBack is a GTK theme, so it’s not possible to use it on the KDE Plasma 5 desktop, LXQt or any desktop environment that doesn’t have support for GTK 2 or 3.

Download OneStepBack

The OneStepBack GTK theme is available on the theme website Gnome-Look.org, with multiple versions available. The different versions of the theme aren’t too different with subtle changes in the color scheme, such as blue, green, etc. If you’re interested in using the OneStepBack theme on your Linux desktop, you’ll need to head over to the Gnome-Look page for OneStepBack.

Once you’ve made it to the Gnome-Look page for the OneStepBack theme, look around for the “files” button, and click on it with your mouse. It should be directly underneath the screenshot viewer.

Inside the files section, you’ll see several different versions of the OneStepBack theme. Look through to find the one you want to use. Then, select the download icon to grab the theme file on your Linux PC.

Extract OneStepBack

Now that the OneStepBack theme file is done downloading on your Linux PC, it’s time to extract the files so that they can be set up on the system. To extract the files, launch the file manager on your Linux desktop and click on the “Downloads” folder.

Once inside the “Downloads” folder in the Linux file manager, locate the OneStepBack archive and right-click on it with the mouse. After that, select the “extract” option and decompress the theme archive.

Alternatively, launch a terminal window with Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T, then use CD to move into the “Downloads” directory and decompress it with Unzip command.

Note: you may need to install the Unzip utility first. For more information, click here.

cd ~/Downloads
unzip OneStepBack-*.zip

Install OneStepBack

To install the OneStepBack theme on Linux, you’ll need to place all of the files in the /usr/share/themes/ directory or, in the ~/.themes folder for use by single-users.

To start the installation, launch a terminal session. Then, run the CD command to move the command-line from the home directory (~/) to the ~/Downloads folder where OneStepBack was previously extracted.

cd ~/Downloads

Now that the command-line is in the “Downloads” directory follow along below for how to set up the OneStepBack theme on Linux system-wide or for single-user uses.

Install system-wide

To set up the OneStepBack theme on Linux, use the mv command with sudo. Please note that if you do not have access to sudo, su also works.

sudo mv OneStepBack-* /usr/share/themes/

Or, if you have no access to the sudoers file, log into Root using su and then move the files.

su - 
mv OneStepBack-* /usr/share/themes/

Install for single-user

Those who don’t wish to make the OneStepBack GTK theme available for every user on the system need to install the theme in the ~/.themes directory in the home folder instead of /usr/share/themes.

To start the installation for single-users, use the mkdir command to create a new ~/.themes folder.

mkdir -p ~/.themes

Finish up the installation process by using the mv command to place the theme files into the new ~/.themes folder.

mv OneStepBack-* ~/.themes/

Activate OneStepBack

With the OneStepBack GTK theme installed on your Linux PC, it’s time to activate it as your default system look. To do this, you must open up the system settings area on the Linux desktop environment that you use.

After you’ve launched the system settings area on your Linux desktop environment, look through the application for the “Appearance,” or “Theme” setting and click on it with the mouse.

Inside of the “Appearance” or “Themes” area, locate the option to modify the default GTK theme and click on it. From there, look through the menu for one of the OneStepBack themes included in the theme pack and select it to apply OneStepBack as the default GTK theme for your Linux desktop environment.

The process for enabling GTK themes varies from desktop to desktop on Linux. If you’ve followed the instructions above to activate the OneStepBack theme on your system and can’t quite get it, don’t freak out! We’ve got you covered. Take a look at the links below. Each of the items on the list includes how to enable custom GTK themes on Linux.

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