10 Of The Best Linux Desktop Customization Screenshots To Inspire Your Creativity

One of the best thing that I love about Linux desktop is its flexibility and the ability to tweak and customize every single part of it to your liking. For those who are put off by the default ugly desktop (especially the brown desktop of Ubuntu) and have absolutely no idea how to decorate your desktop, here are 10 of the best desktop customization screenshots (sourced from deviantArt) that could inject some inspiration to your creativity.

1) My Desktop by ramios

My desktop

A clever use of transparency to make the windows stand out. Notice that most of the icons in the AWN dock are of black and grey shade that complement the dark theme.


  • GTK2.0 Theme: Overglossed by TheRob [link]
  • Emerald: Overglossed by TheRob [link]
  • Icons: Black-White 2 Neon/Style by DBGtheKafu [link] [link]
  • Wallpaper: Grassy Sunset by mattyv8 [link]
  • AWN Theme: Liquid-Black-Glas by Phlox [link]
  • Cursors: Blue Glass XCursors 3D by ezteban [link]

2) GNU Linux 03 by jjrrmmrr

GNU Linux

It is obvious that this is a well thought design. The use of the various screenlets widget match wallpaper exactly. It almost seems flawless.


  • GTK themes – BiMetallico 1.1 [link]
  • Icon – Mac4Lin ver.0.4 GTK Icon Theme [link]
  • Screenlets – widescape weather, digital clock and clear calendar

3) sth about nix by kowic


For those who like dark color, this is a good example of how you can utilize a dark theme to its fullest. There is no panel, no navigation menu and no system tray on the desktop. Other than the wallpaper, the desktop is almost bare.


  • XFCE + Compiz + Emerald
  • Theme – Vorta suite [link]

4) Intrepid Vorta by Kshegzyaj


A minimal desktop that uses the same Vorta suite dark theme, but added conky and a panel support.


  • XFCE + Compiz + Emerald
  • Conky
  • Theme – Vorta suite

5) Linux is not vista by lieshamza



  • adesklets [link]
  • Emerald theme [link]
  • VU Meter theme – [link]

6) New Desktop Layout by Horgrathi


A very simple desktop (and cute wallpaper). Note how the icons are located at the corners of the screen, making them accessible to the users, yet is not obstructing the overall design. This setup is among the easiest and the most efficient desktop design that I have seen.


  • Wallpaper – The download link to the wallpaper is no longer available. I will update this link again if I can find the source.

7) Earth Desktop by Calibre-Not-Output


This is not really a desktop customization, but a compiz effect. I have previously wrote about how to make your desktop rotate as a sphere. You can easily tweak the skydome and the background in the CompizConfig Settings Manager.

8) My Desktop :: Set-21-2008 by kErNeL-sCrIpT


This screenshot shows that you can achieve beauty even if there is nothing on your desktop. A simple and plain wallpaper and several conky setup. Cool.

9) Screenshot 22th July 2008 by solidslash


Another XFCE setup that uses dark theme.


  • XFCE + Compiz-fusion
  • GTK theme – Vorta
  • Emerald theme – Vorta
  • Icons theme – Eikon
  • Running : sonata (music player), thunar (file manager), conky (system monitor), tint2 (task manager), trayer (tray), Conky

10) linux by booochodu


This is more of a cute desktop rather than an aesthetic one. The icon theme and the gdesklets design make it pleasantly nice to look at.


  • No detail of the icon theme and gdesklets used.

Do you like the above design? If you have a better desktop design, why not share with us by posting your link in the comment?


  1. How on earth do any of those distracting, inconsistent, design by ransom note desktops inspire anything but a headache?

    I’m sure they look cool if you’re male, 17, and don’t actually have to sit and look at it while you’re actually doing some work.

    And no, using pidgin, playing a first person shooter, and writing a blog about your belly button lint doesn’t count as work.

    1. Here’s a thought: maybe what is fascinating to more and more people is the idea that they can customize their operating system’s GUI! Believe it or not, there are a lot of people switching to linux for use as the OS for their home system. Linux doesn’t just belong to us programmers and IT pros anymore you giant freaking douche. The more people we get exposed to linux, the better, regardless of how they get exposed to it.

      1. Well said.

    2. Bright colors destroy the eye, waste more power, consume the monitor and take away concentration.

      1. …time for your nap. The Visiting Nurse is coming tomorrow.

    3. Time to take your meds, GranPa. Then its beddy-bye. You can use your 486 to compile Gentoo from source again tomorrow.

  2. How would one obtain the wallpaper from number 2?

    And to make your sphere-deformed cube an earth, where are the cube top image, the cube bottom image, and the wallpaper image?

    1. You’ll need compiz fusion:



  3. Here are screenshots of my Desktop

    1. its cool!

  4. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen my setup. :)


    1. Jake, very nice. I like the simplicity more than any other characteristic of a good desktop.
      Would you mind giving a few tips as to the used theme … and such ?

  5. OMG dude I lovethat little penguin dude, he is so cool!


  6. “How on earth do any of those distracting, inconsistent, design by ransom note desktops inspire anything but a headache?”

    My sentiments exactly.

  7. I don’t know, man.

    None of these is beautiful.

  8. Disfunctional desktops that, if beautiful, are tiring after some time. Bare functionality like that is not productive, and distracting elements disallow real work. Lack of clear limits (like one or two panels) make maximizing a pain in the ass, and you have to keep resizing your windows all the time. Can in the hell can this be anything close to ‘best customizations’? It’s dumb, and there’s no KDE 4.1.x in it – already present in fedora, opensuse and ubuntu.

  9. I think the designs are great. I think Linux distro’s as a whole, need to take more steps in the interface design direction if they want to gain widespread acceptance. However a cluttered desktop, full of desklets and crap, is generally more of a nuisance than help. A well thought out theme and desktop with matching objectdock to streamline your common functions, is all you really need.

  10. This should be renamed to “10 of the most boring desktops”. Seriously, anyone who knows what compiz can whip up one of these, srsly….

  11. I love the trend of what looks like 4 or 5 of these different desktop set ups using XFCE for its desktop environment.

    Great source of inspiration and thanks for including much of the details of each theme.

  12. n00bs

    1. Lol, I love your conky setup. (is it even conky?) Mind sharing how you got it all like that?

    2. Heh If I wanted my computer to look like that I’d use Windows.

  13. Awesome blog post man. Don’t let the haters stop you. I will bookmark this when I get my new Linux desktop set up, so I can pimp it out as well.

  14. most of these desktops are fairly nice.
    been using linux for 10+ yrs and i have to say i quite enjoy being able to customize my desktop and i really enjoy seeing what others have done.

    not so appreciative of all the negative comments on here however. everyone has their own way of using their computer and people get used to what they like.
    its understandable that people might prefer a simple windows style layout over anything else but that doesnt mean the windows layout is better
    and it doesnt mean the linux layout is better either

    everything is subjective to the person who uses the machine.

    also, this is a video of my desktop in late 2007/early 2008.
    i dont use compiz anymore atm.


  15. I can see why you don’t use compiz anymore, mabey the video just has a low frame rate but it looks like your computer was running it about as smoothly as a train wreck.

  16. @ skulluminati: Where can I find the wall in your screenshot?

  17. you really seem to like Dark themes. Regardless, they’re nice. Its difficult to find a lighter, happier theme without it looking like a mac theme.

    1. Not really a dark theme lover. I have tried many dark theme and it doesn’t turn out well. So I am quite amazed that others can integrate dark theme so nicely into their desktop.

  18. I have to agree with the negative posters. Even viewing the desktops fullsize, it’s very hard to read most of the type. Unless you have very poor vision, you want complimentary colors, not high contrast.

    Also, most Conky setups have pointless stuff in them. System uptime I can understand on a server, but on a desktop it’s just trivia. And why do I need to know CPU speed or hard disk or Ram size? Is it going to change?

    1. It is really up to individual to decide if they want to display those system stats on their conky. The true beauty of Linux desktop is the flexibility to customize it and put in whatever you want, regardless it is useful or not.

  19. This is a great display of
    Linux Desktop Customization Screenshots.
    Its amazing to see how the experts make Linux
    tech easier.

    thanks from tony

  20. http://www.okupaweb.com/musika/punk/varios/Screenshot-nec–nada-7-08.png

    really simple
    and video!

  21. Sure, it does look nice, and i’m often tempted to tweak my Desktop as well, but for what ?
    I never see actually my desktop, by firing up my machine, i have my working tools loaded and there’s no place left to show a bit of desktop.

    But well, it’s nice to see what one can do with his favorite DE :).

  22. Reading the comments under the shots is hilarious, its like a child with no grasp of aesthetics or design at all wrote it.

    Horrible desktops too

    1. Aesthetics and design are not universal, immutable things. Maybe it doesn’t match your particular sense of aesthetics, but that doesn’t mean that you need to insult the person who wrote it. It is very apparent that there ARE a lot of people who think that these desktops are beautiful, and who are you to say that they are wrong and you are right?

      If you don’t like it, you don’t have to. If you have something constructive to say, say it. If you only have an opinion that says “I like a different look than you do, therefore you are stupid”, then I suggest you just move on instead of writing comments that make you sound like a petty fool.

      Seriously, I could write something similar about half the comments here; what’s up with people commenting here?

  23. Cool, really nice setup designs here.

  24. Am I the only one who like a simple interface without all those indicators?

    1. No ! :-)

      I can’t even imagine working with all these blinks&blanks on desktop.

  25. Great article. Thanks for the information.

  26. oh…really great desktops..i love to have one like this..

  27. I dislike all of these dark desktops. Here are two of my light ones to make things a bit more cheery.


    Running the PCLinuxOS based TinyMe, with PyPanel, the SnowIsh icon theme, the Orange-look gtk2 theme, the Bear2 Openbox theme, and an awesome background from WallpaperStock.net.


    Running PCLinuxOS, with the AeroG-dual, Kclock, Liquid Weather (with the AeroG skin) and a background from one of the wonderful sites listed at http://mashable.com/2008/03/31/13-awesome-resources-for-hdr-wallpapers/


  28. And here’s some inspiration for making Linux even easier (in a way that Windows can never reach, because of its closed fundamentals): http://freedomdrive.org

  29. Great list. Thanks for the information.

  30. Hey, thanks for featuring me in your article! It isn’t really any of my merit that I managed to download and set a few images in Compiz, but I linked my deviation to the authors, so credit is still going where credit is due.

    The other desktops are amazing as well, really inspiring. I just might change my setup very soon… great post!

  31. To all of you who wrote of these desktops to be distracting, maybe you should click the images larger to have a better view and to help you to understand that the open windows are just to show how windows look like, when open.

    Those open windows are not part of the desktop as such and if you do not like of the wallpapers, well, those are changeable. If one will have a GUI, there can not be something much more minimalistic than number 4, now can there?

    My own desktop has only Cairo Dock on it and the wallpaper is a flat 18%-gray to help me see colors true. I use Compiz to have a flippable two-sided workspace to ease with the clutter.

    Thank you for all your excellent how-to’s Damien! You have made my transition to Linux much smoother.

    1. I don’t think any of the guys who left negative comments thought the windows were part of the desktop. I think what they meant was that some of the gadgets (like having your computer stats on your desktop) are flashy and distracting to them.

      I would have to agree with them. I don’t think these designs are bad, and some are just really neat. Personally I don’t like having a bunch of stats and other things on my desktop (I have about 3 icons on mine), but I understand that some people do.

      Good work on the designs guys!

  32. Who says Linux can’t look as sleek as Vista and Mac. Those are some great looking screenshots.

    P.S. I love the new theme!

  33. Thanks for doing this Jeremy. loved the themes….:)I can’t wait to explore all the sites.trust me www.vistafeel.com helped me alot in this regard

  34. OMG dude I lovethat little penguin dude, he is so cool!.

  35. Thank you very much for the reference Damien.

  36. uff, this is very amazing…

  37. Some excellent desktops there folks.



  38. I just want to say thank you for inspiring our creativity. However, one thing I noticed about the desktops was that they all seem to use the same color scheme. If in the future there is a follow up to this article it would be nice to see a wider variety of colors and styles.

  39. http://narcarsiss.deviantart.com/art/My-Desktop-Ubuntu-106726705

    I think mine looks the best except a few bugs i will fix later-on


  40. Who can send me wallpaper from 8th screenshot? Please, I need it. mail: mr.mejik at gmail.com

  41. @mr.mejik


  42. All this pretty clutter is meaningless. I need a system to work on, not stare at and admire.


  43. @ The Doctor
    Well, obviously some of us disagree with you. We’re not going after you being rude about it, so you shouldn’t either. If you don’t have anything nice or constructive to say, please keep your opinions to yourself :)

  44. Wallpaper of the kids, only one taskbar at the bottom that disappears as soon as I dont use it, a few generic widgets like clock and todo list/notes, 4-5 icons of the most used programs and a screen saver which uses my most recent family pictures.
    I used KDE, XCFE, XP and Vista during the day and you cant tell them apart.

    Considering I see my desktop %0.001 of the time I am at a computer, I see no need for this.
    If you have time though, be my guest. That’s the great thing about free desktop environments, it can be what YOU want it to be, not what someone says you should like.

  45. Stuff like this makes me want to work on my project (Epidermis) more! I especially like the Earth Desktop, that’s very creative.

  46. Wawe ! I really like the work of Lieshamza !!! Beautiful

  47. I’ve often wondered how folks get any work done with moving/distracting things like conky on their desktop. I tried messing with conky, but seeing constant movement on the screen is distracting. Personally, if I want to focus on system load & management, then I’ll open some apps to do so at that time (or run a background log and analyze it later). When I’m focused on other things, the I could really give a crap about seeing those specs updating all the time. Sure, it looks “leet haxor” cool, but ultimately it’s a waste of space and it’s distracting.

  48. Good grief, a lot of you assholes have such narrow simple minds.

    Most of the people leaving negative comments wonder “how can you get any work done… blah blah blah i’m stupid” Not everyone is *working*, some of us use linux at home, some of have a level of concentration/multitasking and aren’t distracted by a flashing color (oh no!). I like having all that shit on my desktop so I don’t have to open a bunch of random apps to see the same info.

    And the purpose, for those who can’t seem to understand, of something like conky, is if your system is running sluggish, you can see if your CPU or RAM is maxed out with a simple glance at your resource meter. You can even have it list which application is bogging stuff down… pretty handy.

    What is with all the hate on the internet? There’s a reason they make cars in more than one color.. seriously stfu if you don’t like it, we’re not all like you (thank god).

    1. @ Unbelievable
      I know that my comment on this is pretty late in the game but I came across this googling “best linux desktop” to add some “color” to my dull workspace. IMO all of these DE customizations are beautiful and a real work of art. These people have spent countless hours trying to make their desktops look the way THEY wanted it to and seeing so much HATRED posted about them just plain disgusts me. I would LOVE to go off on a rant here but I really just wanted to say kudos to Unbelievable for posting my exact thoughts about all of you “hardcore-my-shit-don’t-stink-workaholics-with-NO-sense-of-taste-or-class.”

    2. Excellent article; Linux IS about choice.
      Note to the All-Male Old Geek Rest Home Haters: thank God all you Computer Guy ‘Linux is for Geeks Only’ Liars are a dying breed. Your undying devotion to the CLI is why your girlfriends, wives, moms, sisters, aunts, and kids think that Linux is only for weirdos like you [those of you with the social skills to be in such situations].
      You no longer have to have Aspergers Syndrome to appreciate Linux. All Neck-Beards and Chinstrap Beards aside, I’ve noticed more young folks using Linux and not drinking the M$ KoolAid. I CAN use the CLI, but in 2010? no way; I’ve sent my donations to PCLOS for delivering me from that tiresome crap.
      I’ve said it a million times: free content on websites no longer warrant the obligatory inclusion of a ‘Comments’ section following an article; only paid content requires that. A single Editorial or Suggestions page w/ a Comments section will suffice, outside of a regular Forum space. In 2010, hatred is way too trendy to give the Trolls a Bullhorn to comment about something that you have just given them FOR FREE. Discuss this w/ your webmaster.

  49. I love the variation in the desktops. It’s very inspiring. One of the many reasons I left Windows was due to it’s lack of personalization. With Linux I can make my desktop as simple or convoluted as I want. I don’t have to have some predetermined, color co-ordinated, corporately mass produced, cookie-cutter desktop. I can make it look how I want it to look.

    About the dark themes. Every one has their own taste. Personally, I love darker themes for two reasons. A: I am partially color blind. I can’t really enjoy all the little nuances of some of the brighter themes. B: I, like so many other people, am seriously prone to migraines. Bright themes just HURT.
    These are great desktops. Each with it’s own flare. Keep up the great work.

  50. how do u setup the conky from number 8 ? it’s neat !!! :)

    1. Hey! Thank you! That’s my desk :)

      Unfortunately, it’s from ages ago… so i don’t remember nor have the conky config anymore. You can try to achieve this setup reading the conky documentation on conky’s homepage. Also, take a look on the Arch Linux forums screenshots session, may help too.

  51. LOOL. Whoops. Freudian slip! It is NO SPAM OR shit! Mouse over the link, if you don’t believe me. :)

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