Linux Help

GTK Theme Installation Guide   
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Corey's Gtk Theme Installation Guide
Created on December 22, 2000


Welcome to another installment of my newbie help guides. In case this is your first time reading them, the purpose of my guides are to help new linux users to get those little things work that are sometimes a pain to work in linux. For me to write a guide on it means that I have run into some trouble installing/getting it to work, and as the saying goes, if one person has a problem, chances are, there are thousands more with the same problem. So, along comes these guides, I hope they help new users feel more comfortable with Linux and allow them to enjoy their computer experience to the fullest extent.


Gtk themes are nice themes to add on to your X-Windows system, they give all Gtk apps a nice look and feel to them. I've grown accustomed to the look of them, and they make my desktop nice and friendly. Right now, I currently love the BlueHeart gtk theme, it's so sleek, sexy, and gives my desktop a nice metallic look.

There are many themes out there available for Gtk, I get most, if not all of mine from, they have a huge collect of themes for just about anything (i get my window maker and gtk themes from there).


gcalc with Gtk Theme You can download Gtk from their webpage. As of this writing, the current version is 1.2.8, which works quite good for me. So head on over to Gtk's website and download these two files:

glib-1.2.8 gtk+-1.2.8

If these become obsolete, check out Gtk's front page to see what the current version is, and download it accordingly.

Also, to use as an example, download the blueHeart Gtk Theme to test your installation when your down from


Now the biggest problem I had when I first tried to install Gtk Theme support was a conflicting version installed by Redhat. The gtk-config file was in a different place and it screwed a lot of things up. So just to be safe, you should uninstall any previous version of gtk. If you're using a Redhat system, follow these steps:

As root:

rpm -qa | grep gtk+
rpm -qa | grep glib


rpm -e gtk+-1.X.X
rpm -e glib-1.X.X

Of course you would replace the "X's" with whatever packages are installed on your system. If none show up, then you should be safe.

Now, unpackage the files:

tar -zxvf gtk+-1.X.X (replace the X's for the version you downloaded)
tar -zxvf glib-1.X.X (replace the X's for the version you downloaded)

now change into the glib directory:

cd glib-1.X.X

READ THE INSTALL FILE!! 95% of the problems people encounter when installing new software can be easily answered in either one of two files, the INSTALL and README. They are VERY valuable files and almost every piece of software for Linux released has these two files included, READ them, study them, follow their directions. They can help you more then you think.

now configure, build and install:

./configure; make  (./configure; make; make install  if you are root)
su root
make install

Now, hopefully that installed without a glitch, if it choked during configure, then check the error, if there's a conflicting package or a file not found, check the README, check to see if you properly uninstalled the previous version, or as a last resort email me. After this, Gtk+ should be ready to install:

cd ..  (out of the glib directory)

The Gimp w/Gtk Theme (Don't forget to read the README and INSTALL files)

cd gtk+-1.X.X   (change into the gtk+ directory)
./configure; make; (./configure; make; make install if you are root)
su root
make install

Finally, Gtk should be up and ready to go. So now you can exit out as root back to your normal user, and unpackage the test theme we have, blueHeart-Gtk. So first we have to install it. In my home directory, i have a Themes directory set up (~/Themes) where I house all my themes for everything, I would advise doing this as well.

cd .. (out of the gtk+ directory)
mkdir Themes
tar -zxvf blueHeart-XXXX   (untar the package)
mv BHgtk ~/Themes

Now we need to set up the gtkrc file for your use. The gtkrc file is the file used to have gtk apps know what theme you are running and to tell it to display the images needed. So you need to copy the gtkrc file to your home directory:

cp ~/Themes/BHgtk/gtk/gtkrc ~/.gtkrc  (putting the '.' in front of a file hides the file from regular viewing)

Now we have to edit gtkrc to tell it where your theme is to. Open up your favorite text editor (pico rules!) and add the pixmap path to it:

pico ~/.gtkrc

My gtk theme is located in /home/tourettes/Themes/BHgtk/gtk , so I add the following line anywhere in the file:

pixmap_path "/home/tourettes/Themes/BHgtk/gtk"

The path you place here should be the full path, I'm not completly sure, but I don't think gtk likes ~/path/to/gtk". So put the full path in to be safe.

Now save the file (Ctrl-X in pico) and that should be it, so lets start up a gtk-app and see if she looks any nicer. Make sure you are the user that the .gtkrc file is located in, or else it won't work. If you want multiple users to use the theme, then copy the .gtkrc file to their home directories as well.

Some example programs that look sweet with gtk themes:


A huge list of gtk apps can be found on the homepage here.


X-Chat w/Gtk Theme I hope this worked for you and you fall in love with gtk themes as I did, I must say they make my desktop look a lot nicer then anything Windows could do. If this never worked for you, please contact me and I'll try to help you out as best I can, you can find me (as always) on on DalNet. Even if you don't need help with anything, drop by and say hi and give me and the other great people at that work hard at helping out, we love to see that we help people.

Greets to lyte, jewe|, pc_wizard, x2x, striss, and anyone else who has helped along the way.

Resources Gtk Homepage:
Gtk Themes:

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