This article is part of the Linux Desktop Themes series:
One of my favorite things about Linux is customization. There are many ways to customize it, and the most interesting of them all is the icons. Though they don’t change your entire interface, they can change the way you see your desktop. Icons make you feel at home, and no theme feels quite as complete without them.
How to install icon themes
Icon themes can be installed in two ways. You can install your icons to the system directory, effectively making your icon theme accessible to every user on the system. Alternatively, it’s possible to just enable it for one user only.
Download an icon theme of your choice and extract the files inside the archive. For instance, if you’ve chosen to download Dalisha (see the link below), you’d be extracting “Dalisha_2_2.tar.gz”. Once extracted, a folder will appear (in this case it’s called Dalisha). Open a terminal window and enter the command(s) below to install the icon themes.
sudo mv /path/to/icon/theme/folder/ /usr/share/icons/ -r
Installing for one user
mv /path/to/icon/theme/folder/ ~/.icons -r
* Remember to change the filepath to where you have extracted the icon theme archive.
Once the theme has been installed, enable the icon theme inside your desktop environment with the DE’s own configuration tool. Or, using your tool of choice. If you are not sure what tool to use, check out Gnome Tweak Tool (it works with most GTK desktops). If you’re on KDE, just open the KDE application menu and search icons. It should be pretty straight-forward.
Now, check out some of the beautiful icon themes below.
Square, uniform and makes use of rounded edges. The icon theme looks somewhat inspired by a style very similar to Apple’s iOS icons. Moka is a very complete theme, in the sense that there are even web-app icons available (mostly used with Ubuntu’s Unity web app integration).
An icon theme, that despite it’s name, is designed to be not-so uniform. On the theme creator’s own Deviantart page, he states that “Consistency can be achieved by maintaining the same pattern instead of drawing the same container.” This allows for a very unique take on the idea of icons.
A flat style, circular icon theme for the Linux desktop. A fairly complete theme with 306 icons and counting. Dalisha makes use of the Moka icon theme’s symbolic icons (as the theme does not have it’s own symbolic set). A very beautiful theme with an interesting design, to say the least.
Perhaps the most popular icon theme on all of Linux. So popular in fact, that it’s spawned many, many iterations (like Faenza Mint, Faenza Oxygen and others). Faenza is perhaps the most complete icon theme on this list. Sports a square, rounded-edge design.
5. Numix Circle
A flat, circle-styled theme. The most popular theme coming out of the Numix project. Regarded by many as the best looking icon theme on all of Linux. Numix Circle has a huge icon count (even sporting video game icons) second only to Faenza.
Icon themes are a huge part of Linux. It’s one of the ways users can take a desktop and make it their own. Custom theming is a huge reason that sets Linux apart from the rest of the pack. This list is only scratching the surface, there are hundreds of icon sets in the wild waiting for your discovery. Let us know which icon theme is your favorite and which one you are using now.