Jeremy Smith's blog

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Making Ubuntu Pretty

As I said before, Ubuntu is ugly; specifically, the fonts. But I finally got things nice. It took a couple of tries, though.

First, I took Greg's advice and installed KDE. I felt like I was in a cartoon.

So, I took this person's advice and went to install XGL/Compviz... which... uh... didn't work at all. You see, this is an office desktop and doesn't come with any kind of high-powered graphics card. It has an Intel i810 deal. XGL just broke everything.

Next up, I switched back to GNOME and tried out this person's advice — Ultimate Ubuntu Dapper Look Like OSX. Now I'm not such a Mac fanboy that I think all user interfaces must conform to Steve Jobs's vision but having consistency between my Macbook and office desktop is nice.

My fonts finally look good. I deviated from his recommended fonts. I'm using:

Application font: Lucida Grande, 8pt
Document font: Lucida Grande, 8pt
Desktop font: MACGrande, 8pt
Window title font: LucidaMacBold, 8pt
Fixed width font: Monospace, 8pt

Next up, I installed Komposé. Between that and Brightside, I have Exposé like functionality. Nice!

Screenshots of my Ubuntu desktop.


One thing I forgot to mention. I can't get doubleclicking a window's titlebar to result in a minimize. The only two options are "maximize" and "rollup." I don't want either. I want the window to minimize. A number of Google searches turned up a lot of fighting between Ubuntu users and GNOME preacher... err... developers/architects, but I couldn't find a hack to make it go. If anybody knows how to do this, it would be much welcome.

Update 2:

One other thing I forgot to mention. Places > Home Folder > Edit > Preferences > Icon View Defaults > Default Zoom Level: 75%. Makes icons not so glaringly huge.


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    I agree about most KDE themes being too cartoony. Even though Greg recommended it in response to Ubuntu being ugly, the reasons he listed were actually about functionality, not looks (namely IO slaves, and I agree, they're the main reason I use KDE).

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    Jeremy, did you look at any of the themes over at Just curious.

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    Jeremy, did you look at any of the themes over at


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    Ubuntu 6.10 comes by default with AIGLX which makes installing Beryl a breeze. My Dell 700m uses the i810 like your desktop and I'm able to setup beryl ( in minutes. But, the trick to getting GREAT framerate on my laptop was to drop the color depth from 24 to 16. My framerates went from ~20 fps when using the cube to ~80

    This gives you identical behavior to Expose. Most of the features are just eye candy but the Expose, cube, and alt-tab I find very useful. Plus Beryl comes with Emerald which has an option to minimize when you double click a windows title bar!

    I used to use Kubuntu but found so many problems with it that I had to switch to Ubuntu. For instance, Kubuntu forgets your settings for turning off your monitor after every reboot...a big problem for a laptop. It's a known problem with no solution except for a hack python script to check your settings every 10 seconds and fix them if they change. I missed the kioslaves but I've gotten over it. Everything works the way it should with Ubuntu.