Make Your Linux Desktop Look Like Android Lollipop with the Paper GTK Theme

Make Your Linux Desktop Look Like Android Lolipop With the Paper GTK Theme

In 2014, Google revealed a new design language, one that would change the way that people look at user interfaces. This language is affectionately known as material design. To keep it short and simple: it’s Google’s way of making Android applications (and the Web) more elegant and responsive.

Many Android fans have been enjoying Google’s fresh material look for a while now, but what about Linux? Enter the Paper theme suite. It’s an aesthetic project that focuses on bringing material design to the Linux desktop via GTK, Shell and icon themes.

Note: Paper is in heavy development, so things may be a little rough around the edges.

Installing the Paper GTK Theme

Getting the Paper GTK theme installed on your system is a fairly simple process. If you’re a Ubuntu user, simply open up a terminal window and enter the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:snwh/pulp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install paper-gtk-theme

Not a Ubuntu user? Not to worry; the developer has you covered. Just head over to this website, and download the Paper theme archive. Once you’ve downloaded it, extract it and run the “” script to install the theme to your Linux distribution.


When you have the theme installed on your system, make your way to the theme settings and change your theme to Paper GTK. When you’ve applied it, your windows and GTK controls will be stylized very close to Google’s new (and fancy) material design standard.


Paper Gnome Shell Theme


When the Paper theme is installed, it doesn’t just contain themes for every GTK-based desktop on Linux. It also contains a slick Gnome Shell theme to match. How do you activate it? It’s easy; just install the Gnome Tweak Tool onto your system with your package manager of choice, then after that just launch it and make your way to the appearance tab.

Note: the user theme extension must be installed in Gnome Shell for this theme to work properly.


Inside Gnome Tweak Tool’s appearance area, make your way to the Shell theme option and click the drop-down menu. Inside this menu, just search for Paper and click on it. Your Gnome Shell desktop will then match your Paper GTK theme!


Installing the Paper Icon Theme


Material design themes are cool and all, but they mean nothing if you don’t have a slick icon theme to match. That’s why the creators of Paper have decided to whip up an elegant material design-based icon theme for Linux. Ubuntu users, open a terminal and enter the following command.

Note: you must have the PPA enabled from earlier for this installation to work properly.

sudo apt-get install paper-icon-theme


Not on Ubuntu? No problem, just follow this link and click on the Paper Icons (Alpha) button to download the icon theme. Once you have the icon theme file on your computer, extract it. Once extracted, find and run “” to install it to your system.


When you have the Paper icon theme installed on your system, go into your the icon theme settings for you desktop environment and change them so that your newly installed icon theme can be set as the default.



As a fan of Google and an avid Android user, I was floored when material design was revealed. It was a beautiful, fresh take on the user interface that I never knew I wanted. Over the past year or so it’s only managed to get better and better.

It is because of my enthusiasm for material design that i became excited for the Paper theme suite. I had to have it on my desktop, and this project delivered. Honestly, they do a great job modernizing Linux while taking Google’s design ideas to the desktop.

Do you like material design? Tell us why or why not in the comment section below!

Derrik Diener
Derrik Diener

Derrik Diener is a freelance technology blogger.

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