Although the Suru icon theme now ships as Ubuntu’s default icon set, and although GNOME designers are busy working on a major icon revamp of their own, third-party icon themes still have their place.
After all, one size doesn’t fit all; plenty of Linux users prefer to curate and customise the look of their desktop themselves.
And the following Linux icon themes are all ripe for job!
Newaita Icon Theme
Newaita, as you may guess from the name, is new spin on an old classic, namely Adwaita icons.
Newaita combines the style of the Adwaita-icons with a colour palette pulled from Google’s Material Design language.
One key selling point of Newaita is that it’s not yet-another-flat-icon-set. Don’t get me wrong, I like flat icon sets as much as the next nerd, but despite plurality they do tend to look a little ‘samey’.
Various folder colors (including Ubuntu and Mint tinted variants) are available, as are icons for a swathe of third-party apps, including Firefox and Thunderbird.
Emerald Icon Theme
KDE Plasma has a terrific icon set called ‘Breeze’. Emerald takes Breeze and tailors it for use on non-Plasma desktops, like GNOME Shell and Budgie.
Like GNOME’s revamped icon set Emerald/Breeze is a strikingly geometric set. Icons sport hard lines, bold colours, and there are plenty of gradients at work.
An installer script is included in the download.
Tela Icon Theme
Fancy something flat, round and very blue? Then check out Tela, a new Linux icon theme from prolific community designer Vinceliuice.
These minimalist glyphs have a real uniformity to them, ideal for those who keep an ordered, clutter-free desktop. Various colour folders are available and the pack will be expanded with additional icons going forward, so don’t forget to check for updates!
Zafiro Icon Theme
Aah, Zafiro. Writing about this subtle icon theme (again) has been on my “to do” list for an age, so I’m glad I’ve finally got around to giving it some public props!
Like other icons on this list Zafiro takes a minimalist approach with washed out colors and a broadly flat aesthetic but it remains a truly original, unique looking icon set.
Zafairo is not the most expansive icon set (yet; updates are frequent) but core app coverage is good and the mime types for files like LibreOffice (bottom row in image above) are terrifically designed.
Bonus: School Material Icons
The three icon sets featured above are great, ready to use sets. But there are more interesting icon themes currently in development, including this one: School Material.
Currently in Alpha, School Material is one of the most distinctive icon sets I’ve seen for a while thanks to bold contrast, heavy use of colour, depth, and — as all great icon sets should — a plurality of icon shape.
Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Remember: to install icon sets on Ubuntu manually you simply need to extract themes to to
~/.local/share/icons or, as root,
/usr/share/icons. Then, use a tool like GNOME Tweaks > Appearance to swap between icon sets.