Theming Lubuntu Focal Fosa to look more like Classic Ubuntu

If I had to choose my favorite classic Ubuntu style that award would go to Maverick Meerkcat which was the regular support release that immediately preceded Ubuntu’s switch to the Unity desktop the following year.

Note: If you’re looking for an authentic classic Ubuntu experience updated for 2020 install Ubuntu Mate, you won’t be disappointed.

In late 2010 I was still a new desktop Linux user bouncing from Ubuntu, its variants, and Linux Mint, Arch Linux, Fedora… even Gentoo. In almost every case I installed LXDE or XFCE and styled it to look more like Ubuntu’s classic Gnome desktop. Everything played nicely in our little GTK desktop community. (Sorry KDE)

Maverick Meerkat Desktop
Maverick Meerkat’s Ambiance theme and Humanity Icon set

The Humanity

The Humanity icon theme reached its plateau and featured an orange style with some aubergine sprinkled in. The wallpaper was designed for 4:3 screens and reinforced Canonical’s love of everything eggplant.

Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Wallpaper
Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat’s Wallpaper

What to Download

You’ll then need to expand the .zip file to get the .obt theme file. If you prefer you can download it at its Pling page.

You’ll also want to download an SVG of the Ubuntu Logo straight from Canonical’s Designs Download Page where you’ll find their Circle of Friends set for Web assets. They’ve got some other cool graphics but keep in mind it’s all privately licensed which is why I didn’t link to the download directly.

Lubuntu Focal Fosa

The beauty of Lubuntu’s minimalist approach is how easy it is to theme. Open the LXQT menu and navigate to Preferences > LXQT Settings > LXQT Configuration Center or tap your Meta Key and start typing to search for LXQT Configuration Center.

There you’ll find almost all the settings to change.

LXQT Configuration Center
LXQT Configuration Center

Open Openbox Settings and install a new theme… using 133075-Ambiance_Maverick.obt file extracted from the .zip file provided above. Then select Ambiance_Maverick from the Theme menu. Lubuntu Arc is superior so if you don’t like the look of this window manager go with another. I’m a long time fan of 1977.

Openbox Window Manager Preferences
Openbox Window Manager Preferences

Leave Qt Style set to Breeze, its the one of three defaults available with Lubuntu. Unfortunately it’s not customized for an orange palette but that’s a minor setback.

Appearance > Widget Style > Breeze Qt Style

Next select your Icon Theme, Ubuntu Mono Light is also available by default.

Appearance > Widget Style > Ubuntu Mono-Light

Next select Ambiance which is also available by default.

Appearance > LXQT Theme > Ambiance

I suspect upstream designs and the complications with application theming is probably the reason they didn’t include a orange breeze variant. I hope a Qt Yaru version of Breeze isn’t far off.

Now its time to select your system Font which is likely already set to Ubuntu.

Appearance > Font > Ubuntu

Now select the Breeze cursor.

Appearance > Cursor > Breeze

Time to configure Application Menu. Right Click on that little humming bird.

Right click the humming bird icon > Configure “Application menu”

Select Icon: and navigate to the folder where you saved your Ubuntu Circle of Friends assets.

I stored them in my Pictures folder as I tend to purge my Downloads folder fairly regularly. Be sure to save the SVG of your choice to a more permanent location where it won’t be deleted by accident.

Design Compromises

LXQT has a few overlooked design mistakes… Mixed usage of Lettercase in panel menus, conflicts and the rendering of panel borders, and its notification drop shadow margin.

Obscuring the border

Sigh, there’s no easy way to remove these notification borders.

These 1-2px borders appear around the Task Manager some notification icons but not the Application Menu shortcuts, clock, or volume control. To slap a band-aid on it we’re going to “right click” on the LXQT Panel and select Configure Panel.

Right Click > Configure Panel

Next we’ll go to the Custom styling box and create a Background color of #2b2b29 and a background opacity of 100% which will obscure the borders.

LXQT Panel Configuration

Removing the drop shadows

Drop shadows are handled poorly in LXQT’s notification pop up and some third party menus such in Firefox. Lets face it, drop shadows lost favor after the ’10s, let them live in the past.

The margin between the notification and its drops shadow seen at top right is really annoying.

Disable all options in the Shadow tab.

Disable all the Shadows in the Window Effects Settings

A GTK world, QT is just living in it

This isn’t a fault of LXQT but a reality of the Open Source ecosystem, QT applications look great and GTK2 and GTK3 software renders as it would in GNOME.

The Final Results

Lubuntu Focal Fosa, Inspired by Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat.





13 responses to “Theming Lubuntu Focal Fosa to look more like Classic Ubuntu”

    1. Joseph Dickson Avatar

      I don’t know for certain but I suspect that was my first installation as well.

  1. Ray O Sullivan Avatar

    have my original live cd of 10.04 here, tempted to spin it up for old times sake

  2. Joseph Dickson Avatar

    I’m sure I have an old CD-R in a storage bin with it as well. We can access old .iso files at

  3. Abd. Lathif Avatar
    Abd. Lathif

    Good theme, i want to ask is it affect to my pc speed when used this theme?

    1. Joseph Dickson Avatar
      Joseph Dickson

      Nah, it shouldn’t impact performance.

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