When it comes to Linux desktop environment aesthetics, the LXDE desktop environment is probably the weakest. The default skin it comes with, to be frank, is kind of dated and bland. Not to worry! Since this desktop environment is on Linux, you can tear it apart and make it look however you’d like!
So why not make a list dedicated to great themes you can install right now into your LXDE session? I should mention, since this is LXDE, you’ll be able to use both XFCE4 themes as well as GTK2+ themes. (And the panel even has support for images if you want.)
Note: the instructions to install each one of these themes are located on the page you download them from.
1. BSM Simple
LXDE is associated with simplicity and functionality rather than glamour, which is why BSM Simple is such a perfect fit for it. It’s a decidedly Linuxy-looking theme, with basic colour options for light, dark and blue, and an elegant window manager that displays all secondary windows at an angle.
This is a good theme for those who aren’t into today’s mainstream trends for flat-looking UI design, using shading to give everything an nice sense of depth. It’s like looking at early 2000s OSes through a modern lens.
There’s something very pleasing about Candido‘s simple flat aesthetic. Folder icons and windows are slick, sharp and angular, giving the whole thing a business-like and authoritative feel. Little touches like shadowing give it a bit of texture, too, making it a tasteful, textured flavor of flatness. It’s a little bit old-school Mac in some ways, a little bit Windows in others; it’s a great, grey and lightweight choice.
3. LXDE Panel Backgrounds Collection
As you know, LXDE can use GTK+2 themes, but because of the way that the LXDE desktop is built, you can also use images for panel themes. The LXDE Panel Backgrounds collection is probably the perfect theme set for LXDE, and that’s why I’ve put it at the top of the list. It comes with a whole bunch of panel images to choose from so that you can apply them to your panel. Have fun!
4. Color UI
Color UI is a favorite GTK 2.x styled theme of mine. Why? This theme has everything that I like about desktop themes. It’s flat and very clean looking. It’s very minimal, but it also doesn’t take away from features or anything like that. Interested in a theme for your desktop that is a flat style? If so, you should make Color UI one of your first stops.
5. Numix openSUSE Green
Numix openSUSE Green is a modified Numix theme specifically designed for Open SUSE users. There’s not a whole lot to say outside of that, to be honest. If you’re using LXDE on OpenSUSE and want a matching Numix theme, this one is perfect for you. And if you’re just looking for a green-tinted Numix theme, you should check it out too.
Mona is a dark theme that goes very well with the Faenza icon theme. A lot of dark theme creators seem to have a really hard issue making fonts match with their colors. Mona doesn’t have this issue. It’s not the most exciting theme in the world, but if you’re looking for a setup that perfectly matches your Faenza icons, definitely install this one.
Ubuntu’s own Ambiance theme has been around for a very long time. It’s iconic. Some people really dislike the Ambiance theme and others really, really love it. When you see it, you instantly think to yourself “that’s Ubuntu.” Want to make your LXDE setup more Ubuntu-like? Do yourself a favor and go right to the install page for this theme and get it installed! You’ll thank me later.
Absolute is perhaps one of the most clean and straightforward themes I’ve ever come across. The color and style of it sort of reminds me of something similar to how the elementary project does their own themes. It’s really nice, as predominately gray themes are very hard to find. And though in LXDE the window manager tweaks won’t show up, they do look very awesome on other desktops. This absolutely for sure deserves to be installed on your desktop. Check it out!
Atolm is perhaps the only monochromatic theme I’ve seen done on Linux that wasn’t totally horrendous. You don’t get the full effect of this theme (since LXDE uses Openbox as a window manager and not XFWM4), but the paneling and widgets look really nice on the desktop in spite of that. Everything is just done very well, even down to the fonts and widget color choices. If you’ve been trying to satisfy your need for dark monochrome themes on LXDE, Atolm should be a theme you check out.
10. OrangeBlue Box
As you may or may not already know, the LXDE desktop environment makes extensive use of the Openbox window manager. This is very cool because that means not only do you get GTK themes and panel images, but you also get to use Openbox themes as well. Now, I didn’t want to flood this list with Openbox themes, so I thought I’d include one really good one.
That one is OrangeBlue Box. I haven’t seen many Openbox themes that in my opinion look quite as good as this one. There’s no question that this theme would go right along with any of the other themes on this list. Be sure to give this one a shot!
Have you ever wanted to turn your entire LXDE desktop into a faux Windows 8 desktop? With this theme that is most certainly possible. WinAte is a total conversion pack for the LXDE desktop environment. The creator of WinAte has done an excellent job with this theme. Everything looks about as Windows as it can get! Once you download all the files that this theme requires and set it all up, your desktop will look strikingly similar to that of Windows. Enjoy!
Though LXDE is very lightweight and not as fully featured as some of the big desktops out there on Linux, it’s one of my favorites. The only real drawback is the way it looks when you first boot into it. That’s the reason I’ve made this list. To help make LXDE look a little nicer, I’m pointing out some neat themes to load up.
Know of any cool LXDE themes? Tell us below in the comments!
This post was first published in May 2015 and was updated in Jan 2019.