This article is part of the Linux Desktop Themes series:
XFCE4 is everyone’s favorite lightweight desktop environment, but because it’s been around for such a long time without much visual evolution, you have to say that it doesn’t necessarily look that great. So to help you give this trusty desktop a makeover, we put together ten of our favorite XFCE themes for you to try out.
Note: the instructions to install each one of these themes are located on the page in which you downloaded them from.
1. Boomerang Windows 10
Okay, so a lot of people on Unix-based operating systems are there because they wanted to escape the trappings of Microsoft’s domineering Windows OS. But if you could keep the good bits – like the interface – of Windows 10 while still having the freedom of the Linux experience, wouldn’t you?
B00merang‘s batch of Windows 10-inspired themes are designed for many of the biggest Unix desktop environments, including XFCE 4. The only one that works on XFCE 4 is the glass-themed one, which is absolutely fine if you’re feeling a little nostalgic for that Windows layout.
Not all of the themes on this list are full themes. The XFCE4 desktop is an interesting one. You can theme the window manager and the panel independently. Axe is one of the many window manager themes in this list.
Axe is a clean and really minimal window manager theme. When it’s not in focus, the entire window is transparent which is a really cool effect. Want a clean, simple Xfce window manager theme? Check out this one.
A lot of XFCE4’s window managers that come pre-installed are unimpressive. They’re all old-looking and frankly just not something visually appealing on any level. Tango is an XFCE WM theme pack that hopes to change that.
It’s an elegant, colorful and minimalist approach to window themes. It also sort of reminds me of the Windows 8 window manager. Are you in search of a decent-looking XFCE window manager theme? Tango might be for you.
4. Numix Holo
Numix Holo is a pleasant re-spin of the Numix GTK theme. The creator of this theme has substituted the famous “Numix Orange” color scheme for a light blue Android Jelly Bean-inspired setup. If you love Numix, but also prefer blue over orange, definitely check out this theme.
Some people love the default look of Ubuntu. Others don’t. Ambiance for the XFCE desktop is a theme for those looking to make their XFCE session more like Ubuntu. If you think the Ambiance style suits you, this should be your first stop.
Glare is a simple theme for the XFCE4 desktop environment. It doesn’t have a whole lot going for it in terms of eye candy, but that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. Sometimes its hard to find a very simple theme with no frills, shadows or anything like that. If you’re in search of a simple look for XFCE4, you might want to check out this theme.
Macbuntu is a suitable XFCE4 theme for those who want to turn their desktop into something very close to OS X. This theme isn’t 100% similar to the way the Mac looks, but it most certainly is very reminiscent of it. Searching for an Apple-like theme for your XFCE desktop? Try out Macbuntu.
There certainly isn’t a shortage of dark themes. It’s hard to browse xfce-look.org and not run into more than twenty-five dark themes. Still, if dark is what you want, Rele is one of the best out there. The theme uses the darker colors in a really nice way and everything is really easy to read (which I can’t say about some other black/dark themes out there). Are black themes your thing? If so, you might want to install Rele.
9. XFWM KDE4.8 Oxygen
It’s hard to deny that the KDE desktop environment has it right when it comes to their Oxygen theme. Honestly, it’s one of the better default themes out there for Linux. Are you a fan of the Oxygen theme like me? If so, install XFWM KDE4.8 Oxygen.
Some Linux users love the way Windows 8/8.1 looks. No this isn’t a joke! There are dozens of Windows themes for Linux desktops. For those on XFCE, the Win8-FirstTry theme is a good place to start out. Be warned, the creator of this theme said it’s his first shot at a theme, so there might be a few discrepancies here or there. Still, if you want your desktop environment to look like Windows 8.1, you should give this theme a go.
Unless you’re content with the content of your computer screen staying stuck in the early noughties, you should give these themes a go to feel a little more ‘current.’ Of course, these aren’t the only XFCE themes out there, just our favorites, so we acknowledge that this stuff is subjective. Have any that you prefer? Let us know with a comment!
This article was first published in Apr 2015 and was updated in Aug 2017.