I use to connect to a distant computer running linux from my mac using ssh.

For example I use:

$ ssh -Y login@host


$ gnome-open .

in order to open a nautilus window. This window do open but it looks ugly. I found here that one can install GTK themes through Macports. I installed gtk2-aurora and gtk-chtheme and chose the aurora theme successfully, but my remote windows still look ugly.

Is this theme (or others) working for remote windows or is it only for local x11 windows?

Is there a way to improve the look and feel of remote windows?


GTK primarily does client side rendering. What this means for you is that any themes you want to use must be on the remote system (the system running the GTK application).

Once you install the theme on the linux box, you can cause GTK applications to use it by modifying the .gtkrc-2.0 file (again, on the linux box) by creating that file and adding a line like this:

include "/usr/local/share/themes/Raleigh/gtk-2.0/gtkrc"

Alternately, you can run your desktop environment's settings daemon. For example, one of


Of course, a remote application will be unable to access local themes. If you want a uniform theme across both local and remote applications, be sure that the theme is installed in both locations.

  • In my experience, running gnome-settings-daemon on an SSH connection with X forwarding will mess up keyboard input on the X server involved. It also attempts to make other settings that may not be appropriate in a remote session. I think it's best to set the theme directly using gtkrc. – LaC Jan 22 '11 at 2:17

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