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How to install the StarLabs Gnome theme pack on Linux

StarLabs is a complete theme conversion pack for the Gnome Shell Linux desktop environment. The pack’s look is centered around dark colors, such as dark blue, bluish-black and others.

The StarLabs theme package is very comprehensive. When users download it, they won’t just get a GTK theme to change how the desktop looks. They’ll also get a cursor theme, a Gnome Shell theme, a mouse theme, an optional Plymouth boot screen theme, and even a specialized sound theme!

If you’re looking to spice up your Linux desktop environment with something new, StarLabs is a great choice. Here’s how to get it working on your system.

Download the StarLabs theme pack

The StarLabs theme package is available in a few places. For most users, everything can be downloaded directly from the GitHub page. However, the developer also has a software PPA ready to use for Ubuntu users. To get the StarLabs theme package for your Linux PC, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Then, with the terminal window open, follow the command-line instructions that correspond with your Linux PC.


As stated earlier, StarLabs has a dedicated software PPA for users of Ubuntu. Having a PPA available is a nice touch, as, without one, Ubuntu users would need to compile everything by hand.

To add the PPA, go to the terminal window and use the add-apt-repository command to add in the StarLabs software source to the system.

Note: keep in mind that this theme is in beta. You may run into issues while using the StarLabs theme on Ubuntu.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:starlabs/beta

With the new software PPA added to your Ubuntu Linux PC, it’s time to update the software sources so that the StarLabs PPA can be accessible.

sudo apt update

With everything up to date, move down to the installation instructions for the StarLabs theme pack.

Source code

To download the source code for StarLabs via GitHub, you’ll need to install the various dependencies. Follow the instructions below to set everything up on your system.

sudo apt-get install sassc git meson
Arch Linux
sudo pacman -S sassc git meson
sudo dnf install sassc git meson
sudo zypper isntall sassc git meson

With all of the build-time dependencies taken care of and installed on the system, the StarLabs theme package can easily be downloaded to Linux via the git clone command. In a terminal, enter the command below.

git clone https://github.com/StarLabsLtd/StarLabsTheme.git

Once the downloading process is complete, use the CD command and move the terminal session from the home directory (~) to the newly created “StarLabsTheme” folder.

cd StarLabsTheme

Now that the terminal session is inside of the “StarLabsTheme” directory move the terminal into the “extensions” directory. From here, pull down “gnome-shell-extension-lockkeys” from Git. If you don’t, the build will fail.

cd extensions

rm -rf gnome-shell-extension-lockkeys
git clone https://github.com/kazysmaster/gnome-shell-extension-lockkeys.git

Move the terminal back into the “StarLabs” directory.

cd ~/StarLabsTheme

Once inside of the “StarLabsTheme” directory,  move on to the installation instructions in the next section of the guide.

Install StarLabs theme pack

Now that the downloading is taken care of, installation can begin. Open up a terminal window and follow the commands below that correspond with your Linux OS.


Those using Ubuntu don’t need to do anything fancy to get the StarLabs software working correctly. Instead, just a simple apt install command is required.

sudo apt install starlabstheme

Source code

Installing StarLabs on Linux is a little harder from source. It starts by building the code with the meson build tool.

meson build

Assuming the meson build command above is successful, you’ll see no error messages on screen. Next, finish the building process with ninja.

ninja -C build
sudo ninja -C build install

With the theme pack built from source, run the following commands to finish the StarLabs theme pack installation process.

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/gdm3.css gdm3.css /usr/share/gnome-shell/theme/StarLabs/gnome-shell.css 47
sudo glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/share/plymouth/themes/default.plymouth default.plymouth /usr/share/plymouth/themes/StarLabs/StarLabs.plymouth 150 --slave /usr/share/plymouth/themes/default.grub default.plymouth.grub /usr/share/plymouth/themes/StarLabs/StarLabs.grub
sudo update-initramfs -u

Once all commands are run, restart your Linux PC.

Access the StarLabs theme on your Linux PC

To access the StarLabs theme on your Linux PC no settings need to be changed. The theme provides it’s own session, with the StarLabs icon set, shell theme, etc pre.-installed. Instead, go to the Gnome login screen, and click the ‘gear’ icon to reveal various sessions for the desktop. Then, look through the available sessions for “StarLabs” and select it.

Once the “StarLabs” session is selected, choose your user, enter your password and log in! As you log in, you’ll be greeted with the complete StarLabs experience!

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