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How To Modernize Ubuntu With The Flattiance GTK Theme

The traditional Ubuntu GTK theme has been around forever and it’s kind of dated. The design is old, and even with the updated 18.04 theme, it’s not the greatest. That’s why in this article, we’ll go over how to switch to the modern fork of Ambiance: the Flattiance GTK theme.

The Flattiance GTK theme is currently available on Github and the Git tool is preferred way of installing it because it can easily be used to download the latest version of the theme instantly, instead of having to manually download everything.

Install Flattiance GTK Theme

To start using the theme, you’ll need to download and install all of the dependencies Flattiance needs to render on Linux correctly.

Note: Flattiance is primarily an Ubuntu theme, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to use it on other Linux distributions as well. For best results, follow the Git installation method.

Installing via Git

Flattiance requires compiling before installation. To compile, you’ll need to install a few important packages. Open up a terminal window and enter the following command in Ubuntu.

sudo apt install git inkscape libglib2.0-dev-bin git nodejs gtk2-engines-murrine gtk2-engines-pixbuf

Keep in mind that the entire list of required dependencies for Flattiance is unknown as the developer doesn’t outline it on Github. If this is the case, don’t try to run the build script. Instead, install the pre-built theme already in the Git repo.

To grab the latest Flattiance theme code, run git clone

git clone https://github.com/IonicaBizau/Flattiance

using the CD command, move to the newly created Flattiance theme directory.

cd Flattiance

If you’d like to build the theme from scratch, run the build command.


If the build is successful, it will automatically install the theme and apply it. If this fails, you’ll need to abandon the building process and instead install the included theme files. Start off by gaining a root shell in the terminal. In Ubuntu, it’s not possible to use su out of the box, for security purposes. Instead, you’ll need to gain root with sudo -s.

Gaining a root shell, rather than using individual sudo commands is much more efficient. It should also get around any annoying permission errors.

sudo -s

Use MV to move the Flattiance theme sub-folder to the /usr/share/themes/ area of the file system.

mv Flattiance /usr/share/themes/

Now that Flattiance is in the correct spot, the theme is installed. Using exit, log out of root. Then use the rm command to delete any remaining files.


rm ~/Flattiance

Need to uninstall the Flattiance theme? Run the rm command.


rm -rf /usr/share/themes/Flattiance

Install For A Single User

Flattiance doesn’t have to be installed system-wide. It’s possible to enable it for one user at a time. To do this, the first step is to grab the source code like you normally would.

git clone https://github.com/IonicaBizau/Flattiance

Enter the download folder with CD.

cd Flattiance

Avoid the build tool, and instead, move the pre-built theme into the ~/.themes folder.

mkdir -p ~/.themes

mv Flattiance ~/.themes

Placing Flattiance in this directory, rather than the system theme directory means only users who have this theme in ~/.themes can use it. Repeat this process as many times as required to enable it for multiple users.
Note: uninstall Flattiance with rm.

rm -rf ~/.themes/Flattiance
rm -rf ~/Flattiance

Installing Via NPM

Another way of installing the Flattiance GTK theme is with the NodeJS NPM tool. Going this route is useful for Ubuntu users who dislike having to deal with Git. To install, ensure you have the latest version of NodeJS, as well as NPM, installed on Ubuntu.

curl -sL https://deb.nodesource.com/setup_8.x | sudo -E bash -
sudo apt-get install -y nodejs

With Node installed, use the NPM package tool to get the latest Flattiance theme on Ubuntu.

npm install --global flattiance

Enabling The Flattiance GTK Theme

Flattiance’s main goal is to replace the Ubuntu Ambiance theme. It’s a year old and was primarily focused on Unity 7. That said, it will also work with Gnome and other GTK desktops on Ubuntu. To enable the theme on Ubuntu, you’ll need to install the Gnome Tweak Tool app.

sudo apt install gnome-tweak-tool

Once installed, press the Windows key on the keyboard, type “Tweaks” and open the program that appears. From there, you’ll need to click on “Appearance”. Look through the appearance options and enable Flattiance.

Alternatively, if you’re still using Unity 7, enable the theme in the terminal with:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme "Flattiance"

Enable Flattiance On Other Desktops

If you like the look of this theme and you’re using Ubuntu, but not the main desktop you’ll still be able to enable this theme. As this theme is GTK-based, Flattiance should work perfectly on Ubuntu Mate, Xubuntu, Lubuntu and Ubuntu Budgie.

Check out our in-depth guides for these desktops below:

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