UPDATE 31 JANUARY 2015: Most of the information on this page is now obsolete. See this page for a better approach.

By default, my minimal Arch Linux system was not particularly attractive. I didn’t like the look of some of the toolbar buttons, and in a couple of applications (Audacious and File Roller) some toolbar buttons didn’t appear at all! I was also annoyed by at least one of the default cursors. Perhaps the worst problem was that text often appeared to be “jagged” and hard to read.

I was able to improve these issues to get a satisfactory result, although it still doesn’t look as good as the Ubuntu-based distributions I’ve used in the past.

Set Cursor and Icon Themes

The default GTK 2.0 icon and cursor themes are not very attractive. I improved the situation by installing and configuring new themes.

First, I installed packages oxygen-icons, xcursor-vanilla-dmz, and gnome-icon-theme.

Next, I created file ~/.gtkrc-2.0 and added the following lines:

gtk-cursor-theme-name = "Vanilla-DMZ"
gtk-icon-theme-name = "oxygen"

I might have logged out for the change to take effect.


Icons are located at /usr/share/icons/. An individual icon for the IceWM toolbar can be referenced by absolute path name. It appears that either 32×32 or 48×48 icons work in that context.

Font Smoothness

I created XML file ~/.fonts.conf to make text look better. The file was automatically moved to ~/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf, with the original file changed to a link. Presumably the file could have been created directly at ~/.config/fontconfig/fonts.conf.

<?xml version="1.0"?> 
<!DOCTYPE fontconfig SYSTEM "fonts.dtd"> 
 <match target="font"> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="rgba"><const>rgb</const></edit> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="autohint"><bool>false</bool></edit> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="antialias"><bool>true</bool></edit> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="hinting"><bool>true</bool></edit> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="hintstyle"><const>hintfull</const></edit> 
  <edit mode="assign" name="lcdfilter"><const>lcddefault</const></edit> 

Values for hintstyle are hintfull, hintmedium, hintlight, and hintnone.

Values for lcdfilter are lcddefault, lcdnone, lcdlight, and lcdlegacy.

The default font size (and other parameters) can be changed by using file ~/.Xdefaults, but I chose not to do that because my desired size of 96 dpi appears to be the default.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Arch Linux
One comment on “Appearance
  1. […] I previously wrote about some appearance-related changes I’d made to my IceWM installation. At the time I’d installed packages oxygen-icons, xcursor-vanilla-dmz, and gnome-icon-theme, and then made them active by manually editing files. The results were an improvement over the default settings but most programs still looked rather unattractive. Also, in some cases the font was too big and text was truncated as a result. I found a better answer on the GTK+ page of the Arch Wiki. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: