In Linux, no matter what desktop environment you use, there is always a default look and feel. This default look differs from distro to distro, but always includes a wallpaper, theme, window border, icon set and sometimes sounds, login screens and more. These are all, of course, customizable. There are great websites to find new looks, such as gtk-look.org, kde-look.org and xfce-look.org, but sometimes (this has happened to me more than a few times), I’ll find something perfect, except it’s not quite the same color.
This happens a lot with wallpapers and themes, but probably most often with icon sets. I can’t count the number of times I’ve downloaded an icon set only to find that it didn’t quite blend in with my favorite theme. Sometimes it just wasn’t the right color, and occasionally I’d find the right color, but the shade or brightness was a little bit off. Thanks to a fantastic program called icoGen, however, those days may be a thing of the past.
The idea behind icoGEN is that there are many icon sets that can easily be tweaked with just a few different settings. Change the main color, the highlight color, the outline and maybe a couple others and you have a completely new color scheme. For mere mortals this can be time consuming, and often we don’t have the original icons (usually scalable vector graphics) to tweak. But icoGEN includes five or six of the currently popular icon themes and makes it simple to change them.
Using icoGEN is incredibly simple. After downloading the package, simply start it up. It comes as a JAR file, so no installation is necessary, assuming you have Java installed. Once it is running, you’ll see a dropdown list which currently includes the following icon themes:
Ubuntu Mono Dark
Ubuntu Mono Light
Meliae – Dark
Meliae – Light
Each of these themes has slightly different settings available. On Humanity Colors, for instance, you can adjust the Top, Bottom, Top Border and Bottom Border. Meliae, on the other hand, has Top, Bottom, Top Bar, Add-on, Shadow, Top Border and Bottom Border.
If you like the color of the basic icon theme but it’s just a little too dark or light, icoGEN has Brighter or Darker buttons available. Click either and the entire icon theme adjust by a small amount. If, on the other hand, you want to change a green icon theme to a purple one, simply click the Choose button beside each color option and change the colors accordingly. I’ve found that changing each color option by the same amount provides the best results, as the shadings and contrasts remain the same.
If, on the other hand, you want something completely off-the-wall and out of your control, hit either the Random or Small Random button and get completely computer-generated options. Warning: these will not always look good! It may happen that you get into adjusting a theme only to find it looks lousy. If that’s the case, simply click the Reset button and the theme goes back to how it was originally.
When you’re finished, click the Generate button. You’ll need to have imagemagick installed in order for the color tweaking to take place, but in a few seconds (in my case), you should be finished. You’ll be asked if you want to apply your new theme. If you do, you’ll see your desktop change, or if not, nothing will be modified. The new theme, however, will be placed in your Home directory (in Ubuntu your personal icon themes are kept in /home/user/.icons/), so you can choose it later.
I found icoGEN incredibly simple to use. It didn’t have any settings or options that weren’t obvious, and it’s a lot of fun, not to mention a nice option, to be able to create an icon theme entirely of your own choosing. This isn’t a program that allows you to select different icons (a new Trash can, for instance), than what comes with your standard themes, but if you’ve found that one of the icon themes supported by icoGEN is absolutely perfect except for the colors, then this is a handy tool to have.