Ubuntu’s Default GTK Theme Now Looks Better with GNOME Shell

Ambiance in the Artful Aardvark will look better than before


ubuntu ambiance theme gnome shell improvements

With Ubuntu 17.10 development now underway the Ubuntu Ambiance theme is getting some love. 

Rather fitting for a release codenamed ‘Artful’, me thinks!

System76 may be forking themes left, right and centre in order to craft a customised Ubuntu experience for their customers, but not everyone thinks that the Ubuntu Ambiance theme has had its day.

Chief among ’em, Ubuntu’s Marco Trevisan.

He’s kickstarted work — long overdue, if we’re being honest, so it’s nice to see someone step up! — on the Ubuntu Ambiance theme (and its Radiance sibling) to better support GNOME Shell now that Ubuntu is to ship it as default.

He’s added improved support for client side decorations, adding proper window shadows and support for window resize grips, as well as less obvious tweaks like proper height and padding values, and so on.

And the improvements made are as clear as day to see.

Here’s how Ambiance looks on GNOME Shell 3.24.1 on Ubuntu 17.04 by default:

ambiance theme in gnome shell on UBuntu 17.04 BEFORE

CSD windows have no window shadows or borders and header bars are framed by black boxes rather than curved corners. But it goes deeper than aesthetics as CSD windows cannot be easily resized by grabbing the edges of the app window — a bit of a nightmare!

But this is the ‘improve’ version of Ambiance looks on the exact same desktop:

ambiance theme in gnome shell on Ubuntu 17.04 AFTER

CSD windows now have a drop shadow and rounded header bar corners and windows can be easily resized by hovering over the corner bounds to trigger the resize grip.

Hover tooltips also see a striking improvement in the new branch, too:

ubuntu ambiance tooltips in gnome shell

Ambiance tooltips in GNOME Shell before (Top) and after (Bottom)

Although it’s early days for these tweaks they are super promising and, merge proposal pending, should land in Ubuntu 17.10 daily builds in the coming weeks.

It is perhaps too early to know if this spit and polish should be taken as a hint that the famous Ubuntu theme will be retained as part of the transition from Unity 7 to GNOME Shell.

Now, about those window control icons… 

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