Make Nautilus Look Better

Let us face it, the default look for the Nautilus file browser on Ubuntu 11.04 is not too appealing. It looks dated. Like a remnant of the past.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks to Nautilus Elementary.

To install Nautilus Elementary, add the following PPA to Ubuntu Software Center: ppa:am-monkeyd/nautilus-elementary-ppa. Open gnome-terminal then enter the following command – sudo apt-get install nautilus. This will force nautilus to be updated from the new PPA you added above.

I did this on the Radiance theme. First, I find it more visually pleasing than Ambiance. The combination of the light-colored top panel and the dark-hued launcher makes the latter stand out some more. I love contrasts. Secondly, I’ve been on a dark theme since Lucid Lynx. It’s time for a change, just as Unity is a big change.

Now that you have it let’s get underway. Un-themed, Nautilus Elementary is not too much of an eye candy. But it is closer to being prettier. We only need to “hack” a few things with the nautilus.rc file. Always a good idea to make a back up of everything you will be modifying here.

Open the file: /usr/share/themes/Radiance/gtk-2.0/apps/nautilus.rc

Replace the contents of the file with the one below:


style "nautilus_info_pane" {
bg[NORMAL] = @bg_color
}

style "nautilus-sidebar" {
GtkTreeView::horizontal_separator = 10
GtkTreeView::vertical_separator = 2
GtkTreeView::even_row_color = @bg_color
}

style "nautilus-breadcrumbs" {
xthickness = 3
ythickness = 0

GtkButton::child-displacement-y = 0
GtkButton::inner-border = { 0, 8, 0, 0}

engine “pixmap” {
image {
function = BOX
shadow = OUT
recolorable = TRUE
state = PRELIGHT
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_prelight.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image {
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
shadow = IN
state = PRELIGHT
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_active.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image {
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
state = NORMAL
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_normal.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image {
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
state = PRELIGHT
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_active.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image {
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
state = ACTIVE
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_active.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image {
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
state = INSENSITIVE
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_normal.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}

image
{
function = BOX
recolorable = TRUE
state = SELECTED
file = “/nautilus/breadcrumb_active.png”
border = { 3, 13, 3, 3 }
stretch = TRUE
}
}
}

style “nautilus-left-slider” {
xthickness = 0
ythickness = 3

engine “pixmap” {
image {
function = BOX
file = “/nautilus/left_slider_normal.png”
border = {3,3,3,3}
stretch = TRUE
}
}
}

style “nautilus-right-slider” {
xthickness = 0
ythickness = 3

engine “pixmap” {
image {
function = BOX
file = “/nautilus/right_slider_normal.png”
border = {3,3,3,3}
stretch = TRUE
}
}
}


widget_class "*Nautilus**" style "nautilus_info_pane"
widget_class "*Nautilus*" style "notebook_button"
widget_class "*Nautilus**" style "notebook_button"
widget_class "*NautilusPathBar.*ToggleButton*" style "nautilus-breadcrumbs"
widget "Nautilus*left_slider*" style "nautilus-left-slider"
widget "Nautilus*right_slider*" style "nautilus-right-slider"
widget_class "*Nautilus*NautilusSidePane*" style "nautilus-sidebar"

Just to be clear, I just pieced together the above by figuring a few things out, tinkering through the Ambiance and Radiance themes, including themes from jurialmunkey and simplygreat (both at deviantart). Majority of the style – breadcrumbs – is taken from a nautilus.rc file in my old ~/.themes directory. No mention of the author was written in the said file.

Then you’ll need the breadcrumbs images. You can get it here. I chose this one because it will look more consistent with the Ubuntu Software Center pathbar. These images were tucked away inside my old ~/.themes directory. I don’t know where I downloaded it. My apologies, to whoever made it credit goes to you Sir (or Madam), of course.

Oh by old I meant my Maverick Meerkat install which resides on another partition.

Extract the contents and copy the entire Nautilus directory to /usr/share/themes/Radiance/gtk-2.0/apps.

Re-apply the Radiance theme by selecting another theme and then reselecting Radiance. You could also logout and login. *Actually you only have to quit Nautilus to force it to re-read the new theme file. Open gnome-terminal and enter the following command – nautilus -q. All Nautilus windows will close after you enter the command, so don’t worry. Open again and the effects should now be visible.

You’re almost done. On the Nautilus menu, go to Edit > Preferences > Tweaks > Pathbar and check the option ‘Show like breadcrumbs (need specific gtkrc theme file)’. Close Nautilus and open it again. The breadcrumbs should now be fixed.

The result should be something like below.

You can opt not to touch the system files and instead put this in your .themes directory. The effect is that only your user will be able to use it. Plus the breadcrumbs will be persistent in that it will always look that way since the presence of nautilus.rc (which you’ll place there in a moment) in your home .themes directory will override the system settings. If you want this option do the following steps.

1) Change directory to ~/.themes
2) Copy Nautilus and its contents
3) Copy nautilus.rc inside Nautilus directory, open the file and edit all paths that start with /nautilus to .themes/nautilus/.
4) Re-apply theme like before.

Tip: In case you were wondering why the menu on Nautilus does not have a shadow, it is because of a conflict with Compiz effects. To bring back the menu shadow, disable RGBA transparency. On Nautilus go to Edit > Preferences > Tweaks and under Application uncheck “Enable rgba transparency”. This was already answered by ammonkey, dev of Nautilus-Elementary, many times.

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