Epidermis means skin, and pigment is what gives your skin its particular color. For computer users, skins are often viewed as ways to give your own “style” to an otherwise drab, basic system theme. Linux users have tons of available themes, but thanks to a project named Epidermis (which uses the term “pigments” instead of themes), you now have one place to look for and install new artwork.
Read how the developer describes Epidermis:
“Epidermis changes the appearance of your GNOME desktop in all its aspects in one click. Epidermis ‘skins’ change the appearance of your desktop wallpaper, Metacity windows border theme, your GTK+ controls theme, your icon theme, your mouse cursor theme, your GRUB bootsplash screen and your GDM login screen theme. Each of these customizations are downloaded in ‘pigments’ which are available from an Epidermis ‘repository’.”
There are a couple things to take away from that description. First is that a Linux user no longer has to go to a separate website in order to find fun new icons or wallpapers or what-have-you to spruce up his or her desktop. Because of Epidermis, they are all right there. Second is that individual characteristics (the GTK theme, the Metacity theme, the icon theme and the different splash screens), can now be packaged together, then applied all at once. This is a fantastic development, and one that makes total sense.
Even better is the implementation, because simply the fact that you’ve downloaded an entire theme doesn’t mean you want it all applied right now. Maybe you want a new theme, but the same old cursor and login screen. No problem. You can apply the skin, but choose exactly the pigments you want.
Using Epidermis is pretty simple. The first time you load it up, it refreshes its repository to get a list and thumbnail images of all the different theme elements available. You then browse through them, each type in its own tab, checking off the ones you’d like. When you’re through “shopping,” just click the apply button and everything you chose is now downloaded to your computer and installed in the appropriate place.
If you’ve selected any full skins, you can apply them right from inside Epidermis. Otherwise, simply head over to your standard Appearance preference pane and switch up whatever you want. Epidermis allows you to remove items it’s installed as well, so if you want to completely clean out everything, it’s a simple process.
There’s a lot to like about Epidermis. It’s fantastic how everything is together in one place. The ease of installation and the repository idea is fantastic. Unfortunately, there really isn’t a whole lot to browse through at the moment, which is the biggest drawback to trying to use Epidermis exclusively for all your skinning needs. Places like GNOME-look.org have thousands of options available, while Epidermis currently only has a dozen or so different skins available. Hopefully this will improve over time, otherwise Epidermis could easily dry up and disappear.
In spite of whatever the future may hold for it, Epidermis is a great idea, executed in a manner that makes sense. Everything you need to see is presented logically, and installing and removing different items is logical and fast. If a positive momentum is built up behind Epidermis, it could easily become the standard for this type of application. Time will tell, but if success was based solely on quality, I would definitely like its chances.