Sprucing Up Your Xubuntu Desktop Icons

I honestly try not to get too locked into the aesthetics of my system. As long as everything works, I tell myself looks shouldn’t matter.

But looks do matter.

And once I read about the ugly borders around Xubuntu desktop icons, that’s all I could see.

Luckily, getting rid of the ugly border is a trivial thing. There’s a great guide here. It took me about three minutes to do. The only issue is you need to logout and then back to in for the changes to take effect.

I knew I just wanted to get rid of the ugly background. But once I did that, I also knew I wanted white text. And once I did that, I knew I wanted the text to stay white when a file was selected.

You can see the results here:

before and after pictures of my desktop icons with and without ugly borders

Here’s my simple .gtkrc-2.0 file:

style “xfdesktop-icon-view” {
XfdesktopIconView::label-alpha = 0

fg[NORMAL] = “#ffffff”
fg[SELECTED] = “#ffffff”

widget_class “*XfdesktopIconView*” style “xfdesktop-icon-view”

Don’t ask me what any of that means. I believe the label-alpha controls the border around the text and I know the color white in HTML. Everything else is kind of an uneducated guess.

I understand that some people say Linux desktops are ugly and I’m glad Canonical seems to be working so hard to make them beautiful, but I really appreciate using an OS that gives me such fine control over every aspect of my experience. Not only do I not have to live with ugly borders, I can make the desktop icons look pretty much however I want them to.

It doesn’t make me more productive, but it does make me happy. And happiness counts in computing.

Plus, I’m very, very slowly building a computing environment that looks beautiful to me (and perhaps only to me). That’s a pretty amazing opportunity.