Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Linux/UNIX/Open Source

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book


Most distributions try to design a nice icon set for the default desktop. You could use the default set of icons, but then you would be default. Default is mediocre. You don't want to be mediocre, do you? Do you want to be mundane? Unexciting? I think better of you than that. I think you want to put your own personal stamp on every aspect of your desktop. We spend so much time in our desktop these days that we should make ourselves at home there. I might be badgering you, but I think it's really fun to find new icons and design the desktop I live in.

Desktop and Panel Icons

Changing icons for items on your desktop and panel is easy. Whether you are in KDE or GNOME, you just have to right-click the item and choose the new icon that you want.

To change icons for desktop and panel items in GNOME, right-click the item and go to Properties on the right-click menu. Click the icon in the Launcher Properties dialog box. You will be in a dialog box to browse the icons in the directory where the current icon lives. Select a new icon from one of the icons displayed, or use the address bar to type in or browse for a different directory. Click OK when you are done.

In KDE, the method to change icons for desktop and panel items is almost the same as in GNOME. Right-click the item, choose Properties from the menu, and click the picture of the icon in the dialog box. The difference in KDE is that you have two categories to choose the new icon from, system icons and other icons. The system icons are the ones that come with KDE. Clicking Other Icons brings up another available directory full of icons, such as /usr/share/pixmaps, as well as a Browse button. Use Browse to go to another directory of icons that you choose, such as one you might have downloaded an icon image to.

File Manager Icons and Emblems

Your file manager need not be the plain sea of folders that you see by default. You can change many aspects of the look of Nautilus and Konqueror, including icons, emblems, and background colors and images. Personally, I tend not to mess with these customization options too much because I don't spend a lot of time in my file manager. However, you might be a file-browsing fool who wants green camouflage backgrounds and tiny kitty icons.

You cannot directly change the icon for each item in Nautilus. You can, however, add an emblem to any item. An emblem is a small icon that sits next to the item denoting a category or whatever you want to use it to denote. To add an emblem to an item in Nautilus, right-click the item, choose Properties, and then go to the Emblems tab. You will see a whole bunch of small icons. You can check as many as you like and then click OK when you are done. You can change the icons for file types in Nautilus by installing Nautilus themes that you can download from the Internet. Nautilus toolbar icons are affected by your choice of window control theme, but not all window control themes include Nautilus icons with them.

In Konqueror, there are no emblems. You can right-click any item in Konqueror to change the icon for that item, just as if it were a desktop item. Icons for different file types and for the Konqueror tool bar are often changed when you install a new desktop style theme.

Both Nautilus and Konqueror give you the option to change the background of your file manager. You can choose from preinstalled patterns, add your own pattern image, or choose a solid color. In Nautilus, go to Edit > Backgrounds and Emblems in the menu bar. Nautilus has options for patterns and colors, and a place in this dialog box to add new emblem images. In Konqueror, you go to View > Background Color or View > Background Image from the menu bar. Both file managers allow great flexibility for the look of your directories, but they also provide a couple hideous choices to steer clear of.

Finding and Creating New Icons

You can never have too many icons. Although both KDE and GNOME come with lots of good icon choices, you will have to look online to find more unique icons. There are lots of Web sites for icons, including the same great sites we looked at for themes, kde-look.org and art.gnome.org. You can find icons on non-Linux Web sites as well. Good sites such as http://www.deviantart.com/ and http://www.wincustomize.org/ have mostly Windows icons, but you can grab them for use in Linux as well. The Links section at the end of this topic has more URLs for desktop customization sites. Just download any file and then convert it to a .png file to use it as an icon.

To create icons in Windows, you have to use programs that will work with the special .ico file type. To create icons in Mac OS X, you have to use a special file type as well. To create icons in Linux, you don't need any voodoo&8212;just a graphics editor. Most icons in KDE and GNOME use the .png file type. Unlike .ico files, PNG files are common and can be created by most graphics editors. When creating your own icons remember a few general rules of thumb:

  • Keep your image square.
  • Size your image as 32 x 32 pixels or 45 x 45 pixels, for the most flexibility.
  • Make the surrounding space of your icon transparent.
  • Keep the image simple. Complexity doesn't come through well in such a small image.
  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020