Plasma makeover - Make it look like Gnome, whaaat

Updated: February 4, 2022

I see a great disturbance in the force. I see hordes of fanboys on both sides of the Tux camp whetting their pitchforks, ready to storm Castle Dedo. As it happens, the Plasma and Gnome desktop environments have completely opposite value propositions, or at least, usage models. One classic, one not. But that doesn't mean we can't cross streams.

The big difference between Plasma and Gnome is that Plasma is extremely customizable, so if you feel like going for a visual refresh, you can do this relatively easily. Gnome can also be tweaked, but it needs extensions and then some. And so, I want to show you how, should you feel like making your Plasma desktop mimic Fedora or perchance Ubuntu with its Yaru theme, this is how you do it. After me.



I've already shown you how to make Plasma look like Mac, Unity and Windows 10. Great success. Now, next on our menu is Gnome. In particular, I do like the Yaru theme and icons quite a bit, so my goal today is to grab a bunch of Plasma assets, put them together, and enjoy a fresh visual setup. We did this several times before, so the exercise, on a technical level won't be any different.

Plasma lets you search and install new appearance-related assets, including global and desktop themes, color schemes, icons, fonts, and then some, through either Discover or by clicking the relevant "Get new" button in the Settings utility for each of the categories under Appearance. It's all nicely, tidily integrated, showcasing the simplicity and power of Plasma. Me gushing.

Assets what we are going to use

Okay, so I decided to go for the following:

To make it all the more interesting, I made these changes in MX-21 KDE running on my IdeaPad! A superb distro, very slick, very polished, with great Plasma 5.20 at hand. Normally, in the Xfce flavor, MX ships with a side panel on the left, focused bottom up, so in fact, making the Plasma version look the same way brings the two editions of the distro in line. However, I do prefer the top-left focus, a-la Unity.

The nice thing about MX-21 is that is ships with the Kvantum theming engine and a whole assortment of themes and color schemes, which makes the customization even easier, because it lets you skip a step in the process. Anyway, let us commence with our creative muses.


Work in progress

I moved the bottom panel to the left. Grab the "Screen Edge" handle and drag the panel where you like it. Then, I added a spacer and placed the Minimize All Windows widget to the bottom of this panel. Next, I added a second panel to the top, added a global menu, several spacers to make things more elegant, a trash icon, and a logout widget. This panel is less than 100% wide, so it does not overlap with the sidebar.



KvYaru + black fonts = Mine color scheme.

I found the font contrast in some of the available color schemes inadequate, so I did my Brooze trick. Then, I also changed the color of the active titlebars (works here, no bug at hand). I then tried making the top panel smaller (less wide if you will), and removed the logout widget. Playing, fiddling, having funski.

Looks 1

Looks 2

Then, I decided to sin, i.e. mix and match, and grab some lighter, more transparent themes, without compromising on the basic idea. Yup, this is Plasma through and through, after about 15 minutes of rigorous work on my behalf. Fully reversible, of course.

Looks 3

Looks 4


There we go. If, for some odd reason, you decide to get bored with the classic desktop layout formula, you can go top-left, global menu Mac-esque idea within seconds. Well, the global menu is an extra really, as I don't recall seeing it in Gnome. But that's not the point. We're here to have fun, and that's what we're doing.

As Monty Python would say, this article is becoming silly, and we will be forced to stop it. Hopefully, I've demonstrated the power and flexibility of Plasma once more, while giving you some fresh aesthetic ideas. Enjoy yourselves and such. Do ping me if you want any other Plasma wizardry spells. And now, for something completely different.