ubuntu theming

One of the biggest downsides to using Snap apps on an Ubuntu desktop that’s heavily customised is the old ‘sore thumb’ issue.

Not sure what I mean? You download, install, and enable a flashy new GTK theme, launch a Snap app and …It’s not using the new theme (and thus sticks out like a store thumb does on an otherwise healthy hand, hence my phrase).

Related Guide
Best GTK Themes for Ubuntu (2020 Edition)

Snap theming is in a better place than it used to be.

Heck you might read this mouthing “What Snap theming issue?!” at me — and that is down to the “GTK Common-Themes” Snap. This handy package contains a number of popular GTK themes and applies the relevant one to Snap apps based on your settings.

But that method relies on the theme you’re using being in the common themes Snap bundle (which for older, niche, or brand new themes is unlikely).

Earlier this year we touched on the (growing) availability of GTK themes as Snap apps. That effort improves the “Snap theming” situation greatly: you install a GTK theme, install the relevant theme Snap, and …then you run a copy/paste a series of complex (and unmemorable) commands to get the theme to take effect on your Snap apps.

But things are improving.

Canonical’s Marcus Tomlinson shares an update on automatic theme installation for snaps. He says that “…whenever you install and apply a new theme to your desktop, a background service will check if its associated theme snap is installed, and, if not, ask if you’d like to install it.”

You can see how this nifty auto-intervention looks in action in the clip below (though if you’re reading from an RSS reader or a scraper site then the video will be missing — sorry).

Looks good, right? Alas this work is still ongoing and is not yet available for wider testing.

The success of this effort will hinge on someone, somewhere, at some point needing to create a valid theme Snap for foo-theme — and, importantly in the fast-moving world of GTK themes, keeping that theme Snap up to date too.

But since the barrier to creating and maintaining Snaps isn’t hard this solution should means there’s a viable future for customisation fans who want to use Snap app installs on their system.

Thanks Ken

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