How to customize your Pandora desktop


Apr 23, 2008
This is a simple post to show linux beginners how to customize their Pandora's XFCE desktop. I'll show you how to customize your Pandora with different themes, fonts, desktop icons, mouse cursors, set up Conky and enable window's compositing. I will use some of my favorite themes and icons as examples. Just follow the instructions followed by the numerals. Underlined words are links to downloadable contents.

Disclaimer: Follow these instructions at your own risk. Back up important data if needed.


Set up folders

First, we need to create folders to store fonts, icons and themes files. By default, they will be located in your user's folder (aka Home folder):


/home/yourusername/.icons (desktop and mouse icons goes here)


1. Open Thunar File Manager.

2. In the top menu of File Manager, select View, then select Show Hidden Files.

3. Navigate to /home/yourusername/, then create these three folders: .fonts, .icons, .themes

Note: Folders with a dot in front of its name is hidden.

Installing mouse cursors

1. Download a linux mouse theme and extract it to the /home/yourusername/.icons folder.

Some of my favorite cursor themes are Gruppled and Polar cursors.

2. To change mouse icons, open the Main Menu, go to Settings -> Mouse.

3. Log out and back in to take effect.

Installing icons

1. Download a linux icon package, I recommend Faenza icons.

2. Extract Faenza's zip file to find another file called Faenza.tar.gz

3. Extract Faenza.tar.gz to your SD card, you should get the Faenza folder.

Important: DO NOT extract icon folders directly into your Pandora internal memory, since the NAND (aka internal memory) is 512mb so you'll run out of space. Instead, extract the icons to your SD card, then create a shortcut in your .icons folder that points to where the actual icons are located.

4. Open Terminal, type this to create the shortcut:

ln -s /media/mmcblk0p1/Faenza ~/.icons/Faenza

Note 1:
/media/mmcblk0p1/Faenza is where the actual icon folder is located, ~/.icons/Faenza is the shortcut.

Note 2: Linux is case sensitive, faenza is not equal to Faenza.

Note 3: Adjust the folder path to match your specific situation. (mmcblk0p1: 0 = first SD card, 1 = first partition, however this is not always true, check the folder path in your file manager)

5. To change the icons, open the Main Menu, go to Settings -> Appearance.

Note: When you remove your SD card, the icons will return to the system default icons, but will go back to the icons you set after re-inserting the SD card.

Installing fonts

1. Download your favorite fonts and put it in the /home/yourusername/.fonts folder. Truetype ttf fonts should work.

One of my favorite font is Aller, it's free for personal use, but not open source. Although I think its nicer than the Ubuntu font.

2. To change the font, open the Main Menu, go to Settings -> Appearance. Also go to Settings -> Window Manager.

Installing themes

1. Download a GTK theme and extract it to the /home/yourusername/.themes folder.

However, each theme uses a specific GTK engine required for it to work. For example, the Shiki and Ubuntu's Ambiance/Radiance themes uses the Murrine engine.

2. To install the Murrine GTK engine:

2a. Download the gtk-engine-murrine and libxcb1 ipk files.

(Make sure you get the armv7a version of the files.)

2b. To install these ipk files, first put them in your user's folder /home/yourusername/. Open Terminal, type:

sudo opkg install *.ipk

Note1: The asterisk * means it will install every ipk files within the current folder, make sure only the two ipk files above are there.

Note2: Typing sudo means to run a command with root privilege, so it will ask for your username's password before continuing.

3. Download the Shiki theme and extract it to the /home/yourusername/.themes folder. (Make sure you download the one that said Shiki-Colors (MurrineSVN).)

4. To change theme, open the Main Menu, go to Settings -> Appearance.

Installing Conky

Conky are the system status displayed on your desktop.

1. Download the Conky PND.

2. As the Pandora Wiki suggested, it's a good idea to put the Conky.pnd file in the /pandora/menu/ folder in your SD card. Then create /pandora/appdata/ folder as well.

3. If you did the step above, Conky is found in the System folder in Main Menu. After you ran Conky once, its setting file should be located at /pandora/appdata/Conky/conky.conf

4. To stop Conky, open Terminal and type: killall conky

The Conky theme I like is this one by ebupof. Once you extract it you'll see the file "conkyrc", rename is as conky.conf and put it in the /pandora/appdata/Conky/ folder. However, you'll have to edit the file first with a text editor so it can look good with the Pandora desktop. Delete the last section with the weather info because it won't work without additional linux packages.

Enable window's compositing

Compositing allows minor effects such as shadow and transparency.

1. Open Main Menu, go to Settings -> Window Manager Tweaks, choose the tab Compositor, check Enable display compositing.

Additional info, advance steps

Q: How to make it so there are consistency so all applications (whether its system installed apps, apps ran as root, or PND apps from the SD card) uses the same themes, icons and fonts?

A: Instead of having the folders (.fonts, .icons, .themes) in your user's folder. Put the files these folders:




Making changes to /usr/share folders required root access. In the Pandora, use the command gksu to open an application as root. For example, to open a folder in Thunar file manager with root privileges, open Terminal then type:

gksu thunar /usr/share/fonts

One more thing, either extract the files to these folder or "copy and paste" it over. Do not "CUT and paste" it over. This is because in linux, when you copy and paste files between two different users, the "privilege" will be renewed to the new user. In this case, the files from your SD card copied and pasted to /usr/share will now belongs to root. But if you "cut and paste", privileges will not be renewed, so there is a chance your themes files won't be recognized.

Again, you'll probably lack space to extract icons directly to /usr/share/icons. Create a shortcut to your actual icon folder located in the SD card instead:

sudo ln -s /media/mmcblk0p1/Faenza /usr/share/icons/Faenza

While running the file manager or other apps as root (gksu) you can make changes and delete files in the system freely so be careful. I did not go through this method as the main instructions to keep it simple.
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Active Member
Sep 10, 2008
nice post! i must admit, i do like that conky setup. i might have to try hacking around with it some time to achieve something optimal. the network graphs look very handy!

got to admit i do like a bit of warlock bar on my setup too
Nov 4, 2010
Great job! Very informative and helpful post. Gruso should add a link to this in the pinned Tips, tricks and tweaks thread in the support section so it doesn't get lost. :)


Apr 23, 2008
Cleaned up the instructions to make things a bit clearer, sorry I'm not a native English speaker. Also added some more contents.

I still do not understand why PND apps ran from the SD do not recognize the fonts, unless I put it in /usr/share/fonts. Maybe someone more experienced can explain this, but as far as I know, due to the PND system, application settings are stored in various places.
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Sep 6, 2010

Very good post, most helpful.

Could this be added to the Tips, tricks and tweaks section please ?
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