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4.8 KiB

Installing Arc from the source

Getting the source

To get the source, either clone the git repository with e.g.

git clone --depth 1

Or download and extract a snapshot of the master git branch, or the latest release tarball.


Build dependencies

The following packages are always required for building the theme:

  • meson version 0.53.0 or later

The following packages are only required for building certain themes:

  • sassc for GTK 3, GTK 4, Cinnamon, and GNOME Shell
  • glib-compile-resources from glib2 (or its development files, e.g. libglib2.0-dev-bin for Debian based distros or glib2-devel for RPM based distros), for GTK 3 and GTK 4 (and GNOME Shell if the gnome_shell_gresource build option is enabled)

You can avoid these dependencies by choosing to not build specific themes using the themes build option.

The following packages are only required for building certain themes from a git snapshot:

  • inkscape for GTK 2, GTK 3, GTK 4 and Xfwm

These packages aren't required when building from a release tarball.

Runtime dependencies

For the GTK 2 theme to function properly, install the following:

  • gnome-themes-extra, or gnome-themes-standard before GNOME version 3.28
  • The murrine GTK 2 engine. This has different names depending on the distribution:
    • gtk-engine-murrine (Arch Linux)
    • gtk2-engines-murrine (Debian, Ubuntu, elementary OS)
    • gtk-murrine-engine (Fedora)
    • gtk2-engine-murrine (openSUSE)
    • gtk-engines-murrine (Gentoo)

Building and installation

Arc-theme uses Meson build system, refer to its documentation for further information about the build process.

The following instructions should work for most common cases.

Setup and configure a build directory

First you need to setup and configure a new build directory (e.g. build/) from the cloned/extracted source code directory.

You should at least configure the build prefix with --prefix= option, usually /usr for system wide installation, or $HOME/.local for installing for your user only. Additionally you may set any Arc-theme specific build options according to your needs and preferences, with -Doption=value command line argument.

For example, configure to install in your home directory, and to only build the Arc-Darker variant with:

meson setup --prefix=$HOME/.local -Dvariants=darker build/

The build options can later be changed with meson configure command, e.g.

meson configure --prefix=/usr -Dvariants=light,darker build/

Build and install

Build and install the theme according to your configuration by running the following:

meson install -C build/

Note about installation in user's home directory

Some themes (at least GTK 2) aren't loaded from ~/.local/share/themes/. You can work around this e.g. by symlinking the Arc theme directories in ~/.local/share/themes/ to ~/.themes/ with following commands:

mkdir -p ~/.themes/
for d in Arc{,-Dark,-Darker,-Lighter}{,-solid}; do
  [ -d ~/.local/share/themes/$d ] && ln -s ~/.local/share/themes/$d ~/.themes/;

Versioned themes

The source code comes branched for different versions of GNOME Shell, and Cinnamon. Only one version of those themes will be built and installed, and using the wrong versions will likely result in visual issues.

The versions that will be built can be set manually with cinnamon_version and gnome_shell_version build options.

Otherwise the build system tries to determine correct versions using the following packages on the build environment:

  • gnome-shell for detecting GNOME Shell version
  • cinnamon for detecting Cinnamon version

Note: The build setup for Cinnamon and GNOME Shell themes will fail, if their versions can't be determined either from the build options, or from installed packages.

Build options

Arc-theme specific build options can be set or changed with meson configure -Doption=value <build_directory> e.g.

meson configure -Dthemes=cinnamon,plank,xfwm -Dtransparency=false -Dcinnamon_version=5.0 build/
Option Default value Description
themes cinnamon,gnome-shell,gtk2,gtk3,gtk4,metacity,plank,unity,xfwm List of themes to build
variants light,darker,dark,lighter List of theme variants to build
transparency true Enable or disable transparency
cinnamon_version - Build Cinnamon theme for specific version
gnome_shell_version - Build GNOME Shell theme for specific version
gnome_shell_gresource false Compile GNOME Shell theme into a gresource file


Manually remove the theme directories from your install location, e.g.

rm -rf ~/.local/share/themes/Arc{,-Dark,-Darker,-Lighter}{,-solid}