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SudoAptGetPlay Dec 14, 2013 @ 12:01pm
Making the steamos-desktop look better
It is obvious that the default gnome 3 environment shipped with steamos isn't so beautiful compared to the big picture mode. Here are some tweaks to improve your visual experience :)

For this I will use the default "desktop" user. (see faq for users)

First be sure to add the debian main repositories in /etc/apt/sources.list(need a root password. if not type "passwd" in terminal to set one)

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

copy/paste this:


save with ctrl-x and "y"

sudo apt-get update

If it went right you have now access to all packages from the main debian repository.

We need to install following programs:

sudo apt-get install gnome-tweak-tool gnome-shell-extensions file-roller gedit

This will install the customization tools, an archive manager and a simple text editor.
To process i'll use following files:
-Faience icon set:here[faience-theme.googlecode.com]

- BSM simple:there[gnome-look.org]

-London smoke:somewhere over a rainbow[therealpadster.deviantart.com]

Once downloaded extract the files to your home folder (/home/desktop) using cli or the archive manager.

Now we need to copy the theme to /home/desktop/.themes and the icon set to /usr/share/icons :

mkdir /home/desktop/.themes cp -r BSM* .themes cp -r "London Smoke" .themes sudo cp -r Faience* /usr/share/icons sudo chmod 755 .themes sudo chmod 755 /usr/share/icons

Once copied you can delete the theme files in your home folder.

Now go to the apllication dash and search for "tweak".
Once tweak tool openeded (tagged Advanced Settings) navigate to shell extensions and enable the extensions you want (basically all of them).

Then go to Theme and set:

shell theme : London smoke
icon theme : the faience set you prefer
window theme: the bsm simple set you prefer

The windows are extremely huge without reason. Re-scale them by going to fonts and set text-scaling-factor to 1.

You should now have a nice themed interface. Enjoy !
Now you know the mechanics, take a tour[gnome-look.org] and install all the themes you want :)

(feel free to modify this guide if needed)

Last edited by SudoAptGetPlay; Dec 14, 2013 @ 2:16pm
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Showing 1-7 of 7 comments
ReticentRobot Feb 8, 2014 @ 10:35am 
I don't need the gnome tweak stuff, but I'm trying to install gedit using this same method and I'm getting:

Package gedit is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source

E: Package 'gedit' has no installation candidate

Any ideas what I'm doing wrong?


EDIT: Figured out what was wrong. I had followed some other advice earlier to set a priority order with:

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences

by adding:

Package: *
Pin: release l=SteamOS
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: release l=Debian
Pin-Priority: -10

Apparently doing that kept the Debian sources from working at all, I guess I need to read some more about how that should actually work. For now I'm going to just empty that file out since the apt preferences instructions from debian say that apt defaults to the source that has the higher version. It would be nice to get it working to ensure that most updates come from the SteamOS repos though.
Last edited by ReticentRobot; Feb 8, 2014 @ 10:48am
SudoAptGetPlay Feb 9, 2014 @ 3:38am 
Hitsuji gives a very good explanation of pinning :

I guess peeps are still having dificulty understanding Apt-Pinning. If you give a branch/distribution/whatever a negative value, it will not install anything from that pin unless you specify that that package must come from that pin.

So with debian on -10:
sudo apt-get install xbmc
will show no installation candidates as its not in the SteamOS repo.

You can attempt to install it with:
sudo apt-get install xbmc/wheezy
This will attempt to install xbmc, but if there are any dependencies that are not the SteamOS repo then the installation again will fail due to dependency errors. In this situation can can also be specific and specify any missing dependencies too.
sudo apt-get install xbmc/wheezy xbmc-dependency/wheezy
However this may get a bit painful if there's a lot of dependencies. So you can instead use:
sudo apt-get -t wheezy install xbmc
This will instruct apt to solve any dependencies from the wheezy before steamos.

Alternatively you can also give the Debian archives a non negative number, but lower than the SteamOS archives. So you can install from the Debian repo, but SteamOS gets priority.
So setting Debian from -10 to 100 would allow the use of:
sudo apt-get install xbmc
This is a more relaxed way of pinning, however, this put you in danger of accidentally installing unwanted packages from the wrong repo. Particularly if Debian requires packages that are newer than the ones in SteamOS.

Non-negative priorities also allow packages to update, where negative priorities will no receive updates unless you update them.

As we are bring pages from a OS with a more uptodate base, its recommended to use negative priorities.

Also, do NOT specify priorities higher than 990. Prioities 1000+ have a special meaning and and used to force downgrades.
ReticentRobot Feb 10, 2014 @ 1:15pm 
Awesome, thanks SudoAptGetPlay - that makes perfect sense!

Can you tell me how one would go about doing an update (to continue your example, to get an xbmc update) for a negative priority repo?
SudoAptGetPlay Feb 12, 2014 @ 4:57am 
Actually you can't automatically update packages from a negative pinned repo. An easy solution is to put it's pin around 100-500 (500 is the default) or to re-execute the installation of your package so that the manager installs the latest version.
Further information here[wiki.debian.org].
SudoWolf Feb 24, 2014 @ 9:31pm 
Nice! Thanks for sharing, this helped me get apps to setup my raid too (getting my feet wet with linux)

Everything looks and feels much better after adding these tweaks.
dalhamir Nov 6, 2015 @ 9:56am 
Hey, great writeup, but there seems to have been some changes with the latest SteamOS, which is now built off of Debian 8 (Jessie) rather than Debian 7 (Wheezy). This will cause some incompatibilities with the attempted install of gnome-tweak-tool

You can double check your situation with
cat /etc/debian_version

Assuming you have the latest SteamOS based on Debian 8, all you need to do is change the debian repos added to /etc/apt/sources.list
TransistorCowboy Nov 7, 2015 @ 9:27am 
Originally posted by dalhamir:
Hey, great writeup, but there seems to have been some changes with the latest SteamOS, which is now built off of Debian 8 (Jessie) rather than Debian 7 (Wheezy). This will cause some incompatibilities with the attempted install of gnome-tweak-tool

You can double check your situation with
cat /etc/debian_version

Assuming you have the latest SteamOS based on Debian 8, all you need to do is change the debian repos added to /etc/apt/sources.list

Dealing with repos and incompatibilities and priorities with those repos has been detailed and pinned ..this should help you out:

http://steamcommunity.com/groups/steamuniverse/discussions/1/648814396114274132/
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All Discussions > Steam OS > Topic Details
Date Posted: Dec 14, 2013 @ 12:01pm
Posts: 7