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How To Install The Arc And Arc Darker Theme On Linux

There’s no questioning it at this point: the Arc theme is one of the most popular GTK themes on Linux today. As a result, it’s probably one of the easiest themes to install on most Linux distributions. Better still, a lot of mainstream Linux distributions carry the Arc and Arc darker theme it in their software sources.

Install Arc And Arc Darker Theme

In this part of the guide, we’ll show you the commands you need to install to quickly install the Arc/Arc Darker theme. Open up a terminal and enter the following command to get it working correctly.


From Ubuntu 16.10 and later, the Arc GTK theme pack is in the primary software sources. Install it on your PC much like any other program, using the apt install command.

Note: those using Ubuntu 16.04 will not be able to easily install the Arc GTK theme, as it isn’t in any of its software repositories. If you can’t upgrade to 18.04 yet but need Arc, consider following the instructions below to build the theme from scratch. Alternatively, read the Arc Github page for the instructions specific to 16.04.

sudo apt install arc-theme


Much like Ubuntu, Debian (9+) has the Arc GTK theme available in the official software sources. To install it, all you need to do is to open up a terminal and enter the following command.

sudo apt-get install arc-theme

Are you using Debian 8? Consider upgrading to Debian 9 Stable, or following the instructions to compile the theme by hand.

Arch Linux

Arch has had Arc in the primary software sources for quite a while. To install it, use the Pacman package manager and sync the Arc theme package.

sudo pacman -S arc-gtk-theme

Alternatively, there’s an AUR package for the Arc GTK theme if you’d like to build it from scratch. Find it here. Only build Arc from scratch if the theme in the main Arch software sources gives issues, as it’s not an official package.


Ever since Fedora 23, the Arc theme has been available in software sources. Install it on your Fedora PC like any other program using the DNF package manager.

sudo dnf install arc-theme

Generic Instructions

A lot of distributions embrace the Arc theme, and as a result, it makes getting the theme working on a lot of popular Linux operating systems incredibly straightforward. However, not every Linux distribution has chosen to do this. If your distribution doesn’t distribute a native package, you’ll need to download the source code and build it by hand. To build the Arc and Arc Dark theme by hand, you’ll need to install these packages.

Note: the dependencies for Arc may differ, depending on what operating system you use. For best results, try to search for these packages:

  • autoconf
  • gtk2-engine-murrine or gtk-engine-murrine
  • automake
  • pkg-config
  • gtk3-devel or libgtk-3-dev
  • git
  • gnome-themes-standard

Still having trouble finding the proper dependencies to install? Consult with the Github page, and ask the developer if need be. The page is found here.

When all dependencies are taken care of, use the Git tool to clone the latest version of the Arc GTK theme code.

git clone https://github.com/horst3180/arc-theme --depth 1

Next, use the CD command to move into the newly cloned arc-theme folder.

cd arc-theme

Inside of the Arc folder, you’ll need to run autogen.sh. This script will automatically generate the code before the compiling process can take place.

./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr

Running Autogen shouldn’t take too long, but when it completes, it’s safe to build the new theme. To build the theme as-is (in transparent mode), run the make install command in the terminal.

sudo make install

Not a fan of how the Arc GTK theme looks with transparency? If so, it’s possible to disable the feature and build Arc without transparency. To do this, run:

./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --disable-transparency

Follow it up with:

sudo make install

Other Build Options

The Arc GTK theme has a lot of different build options for the theme that users can choose from. These arguments must be run with autogen.sh, before building. Follow this formula:

./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --custom-argument

Here’s a complete list of the build arguments for the Arc GTK theme.


Activating Arc

Though the Arc GTK theme is installed on your Linux PC, it’s not enabled yet. To fix this, you’ll need to navigate to the “appearance” settings on your Linux PC. On each Linux desktop environment, these settings are different. If you’re confused, it’s OK! These settings often get buried.

If you’re sick of digging through settings to learn how to enable this theme, consider checking out our in-depth guides below. They go into detail exactly how to customize all of the major GTK+ desktops on Linux.

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