For Gnome users on Linux, the default icon theme is known as “Adwaita.” This default icon theme consists of brown folders and custom program icons for the Gnome family of applications.
Out of the box, the Adwaita icon theme doesn’t look too bad on the Gnome desktop, because over the years the developers have worked tirelessly to improve the theme. Still, despite all of the improvements to it, there are some glaring issues, such as missing icons for third-party applications. Additionally, while it does look decent, the design isn’t exactly the most exciting on Linux.
To fix the boring Adwaita icon theme on the Gnome desktop, Newaita icon was created. It takes a lot of design inspiration from Gnome’s own Adwaita icons but improves all app icons with a material design spin. The theme also provides users a dark variant of the theme, and different folder colors to choose from.
Note: the Newaita icon theme was designed to improve the overall look of Gnome’s default icons. That said, the icon works with all desktop environments, and not just Gnome Shell, so feel free to follow along and install it even if you’re using an alternative desktop environment.
Download Newaita icons
The Newaita theme is available for download to Linux users via GitHub. To download the latest Newaita icon files the “git” package must be installed on your system. To start the installation, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. With the terminal window open, follow the command-line instructions that correspond with the operating system you currently use.
sudo apt install git
sudo apt-get install git
sudo pacman -S git
sudo dnf install git
sudo zypper install git
The source code for the “git” tool is located here. Download and compile it to get it working on your Linux OS, if “git” isn’t found in any repos.
Now that the “git” package is set up use it to download the latest Newaita icon files with the git clone command in a terminal window.
git clone https://github.com/cbrnix/Newaita.git
Downloading Newaita from GitHub will take a few minutes. The reason it takes time to download is that there are so many icon files to download. Be patient. When everything is done downloading, the icon data will be in “Newaita.”
Install Newaita icons
The Newaita icon files are downloaded to your Linux PC. The next step in the installation process is to place the icon files in the correct location on the system. To start the installation, open up a terminal window and follow the instructions outlined below.
If you’re only planning on using the Newaita icon themes for one user account on your Linux PC, the best way to go about installing everything is in Single-user mode. Keep in mind that if other users want access to Newaita, you must log in to their account and follow these instructions as well.
Start by creating a new folder called “.icons” in the home directory with the mkdir command for the user in which you’re currently logged in as in the terminal window.
mkdir -p ~/.icons
Using the CD command, move into the newly downloaded “Newaita” folder.
Move the icon files from the “Newaita” directory to the new “.icons” folder with the mv command.
mv Newaita/ ~/.icons/
mv Newaita-dark/ ~/.icons/
When the Newaita files are in place, close the terminal window and move on to the “Activating Newaita” portion of this tutorial.
Looking to install the Newaita icon theme system-wide so every user on your Linux PC can have access to it? If so, start by opening up a terminal window and using the CD command to move into the “Newaita” directory.
Next, move the Newaita icon theme files from your home directory where they were downloaded to the new icon folder with mv.
sudo mv Newaita/ /usr/share/icons/
sudo mv Newaita-dark/ /usr/share/icons/
When both folders are done moving to the “/usr/share/icons/” directory, Newaita is successfully installed system-wide on your Linux PC. Move down to the “Activating Newaita” section of the guide to learn how to enable it as the default icon set.
After installing the Newaita icon theme on your Linux PC, it must be enabled as the default icon theme. To enable it as the default icon theme on your system, open up “Settings,” and look for “appearance,” “icons,” or “themes,” or similar settings.
When you’ve made your way into the icon settings for your Linux desktop environment, switch over to the default icons to “Newaita” or “Newaita Dark,” and your desktop should instantly switch over to the new theme.
Are you having issues enabling the Newaita icon theme on your Linux PC? Do yourself a favor and take a look at the linked list of desktops below to learn all about how to change the default icon theme on Linux.