Make synaptic package manager use gtk theme

When I open synaptic (or nautilus as root) the windows resemble the top class “win95” design.

Some people might prefer that, but I’m not one of them.

It’s pretty easy to make synaptic use the theme you are using.

Edit: Take a look in the comments to “bredan’s 2nd comment”, it’s easier and also includes the icon set.

1. Open nautilus as root

gksudo nautilus

Navigate to /home/username/.themes and copy all of them to /usr/share/themes

(.themes is a hidden folder, press “ctrl+h” to view them)

2. Change the gdm behaviour

In a terminal copy/paste this

sudo gedit /etc/gdm/gdm.conf

Look for [gui] and make sure these lines look like this:


If there is a # before them, delete it.

Now synaptic and other root applications should use the gtk theme you are using on your desktop.

    • Brendan
    • May 14th, 2008

    Funny you should have posted this just when I noticed this behaviour..
    So I tried this out, and it is not quite complete; it solves the problem of root initiated applications not having the same theme, but they still have the old icons. I guess you need to copy the /username/.icons files to somewhere in /usr/share… I’ll have to try to work it out! It’s all new territory for me!

    Cheers, for the tip anyway, I am half way there!

    • linuxowns
    • May 14th, 2008

    You’re right.

    I didn’t notice it doesn’t uses icon set you normally use.

    Let me know how you did it, if you succeed.

    • Brendan
    • May 18th, 2008

    Hi, for both I copied /home/username/.icons and /home/username/.themes to /root/.icons and /root/.themes respectively and it did the trick!

    • linuxowns
    • May 19th, 2008

    Thanks Brendan for mentioning it.

  1. So, you could ln -s /home//.themes /root/.themes and ln -s /home//.icons /root/.icons instead. This is a cooler, because any time you may install new themes and/or icons as you don’t have to sync contents to match. These symbolic links should do the job. Great tip btw, I always hated the way Synaptic looked like, but never thought this might be the solution. Until now I believed that Synaptic was using old GTK libs… Thanks!

  2. I were many hours looking for the way to do this…

    Now… I only wanna say you…Thank you very much!!!!!!

    • Vadi
    • October 3rd, 2008

    Ali Servet Dönmez’s solution is the best here.

    • linuxowns
    • October 3rd, 2008

    It is.

  3. What if I want new users to use my themes? Thanks

    • Nero
    • February 10th, 2009

    [i](Sorry about my bad english…)[/i]

    I can’t believe how easy was that!!
    Thanks to all you, folks!

    I used the Ali Servet Dönmez metod!

    Thanks from Argentina!

    • Don Martin
    • March 3rd, 2009

    Great tip!!
    Im designing a new theme, and i was thinking that this program was using gtk 1.x

    Thanks from Argentina too!!

    Copy everything from /home/username/.icons TO /usr/share/icons PLUS STEP TWO of this post.

    Hope this helps.

    • BobSongs
    • June 2nd, 2011

    I found this set of commands not only changed Synaptic’s theme, but kept it consistent with any theme the rest of my destkop used (key in each one in an opened Terminal):

    sudo ln -s /home/[username]/.themes /root/.themes

    sudo ln -s /home/[username]/.icons /root/.icons

    sudo ln -s /home/[username]/.fonts /root/.fonts

    • Alastair
    • October 14th, 2011

    Install gtk-chtheme application using synaptic. Once installed, then run it as root with gksu and set the theme. You can leave the synaptic window open an watch the window change as you change themes. This was the best solution for me (Ubuntu 11.04).

  5. Hi folks!

    Back in 2011 I found (elsewhere?) Bob Songs suggestion and it worked nicely for me. I was then using gtk2 theme Dark Grey’72 on the current Lubuntu at that time.

    I’m still using Lubuntu (14.04 LST) and decided to try again that same theme. Once more some windows (both root invoked an others too) fail to use the selected decoration.

    After some googling around I found this site that contains the very same suggestion and then some. I set out to reapply the whole set and began by installing gdm which was absent from my system.

    Curiously enough there is no gdm.conf in /etc/gdm but there is a custom.conf and a greeter.settings. I edited custom.conf and saved it as gdm.conf but that did not work at all. None of the other suggestions produced the desired results.

    Lubuntu 14.04 also has gtk3 installed and I wonder if there is a conflict with that. Will appreciate any ideas or help someone can provide.

    Thanks a lot.

  6. whoah this blog is great i really like reading your posts.
    Keep up the great work! You realize, a lot of persons are
    looking round for this info, you could help them greatly.

  1. May 14th, 2008
    Trackback from : Linux T&T : Gksu Root Theme
  2. June 16th, 2008
  3. July 2nd, 2008
  4. October 14th, 2009

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