You probably already know how to customize the Ubuntu desktop. But what if you’re looking for a way to customize your Ubuntu splash screen? Want to change the logo of your preferred desktop environment?
Here’s how to change the splash screen on older Ubuntu systems as well as PCs running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and newer.
How to Change the Splash Screen
Ubuntu 10.04, tweaking the splash screen (the image that appears when the computer boots up) means editing the content /user/images/share/xsplash. However, in Ubuntu 16.04 LTS and later, this splash screen directory has been moved.
Newer Ubuntu versions have the location as /lib/plymouth/themes. On Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that location has been moved, to /usr/share/plymouth/themes.
The Plymouth tool basically manages the splash screen and can be used to set new images.
A few years later, things have changed. We now have a handy app that helps manage current splash screens: Plymouth Themes.
Find or Design Your Own Ubuntu Splash Screen Replacement
Before you start installing new tools, make sure you have a new splash image. This might be a photo maybe something very Ubuntu-esque, like a natural snap or a custom graphic. If you don’t already have one, there are several places where you can find custom splash screen graphics online. Maybe you want to splash match, or compliment, your desktop background?
Or, you can create your own splash screen from scratch. This may not be as easy as it sounds, and requires you to have proper graphics tools installed on Linux computer You. GIMP is certainly an option, as is running Adobe Photoshop in Wine.
Install Plymouth Theme
With your Ubuntu splash screen replacement ready, it’s time to install the tools you need to enable it. In terminal, install plymouth theme:
sudo apt install plymouth-themes
Once installed, a new directory will be created in /usr/share/plymouth/themes. Look inside. You’ll find everything the current splash screen consists of: logos, spinners, and scripts. If you’ve upgraded from a previous version of Ubuntu and are disappointed by the lack of a dedicated splash screen, this directory should look familiar. Basically, the exact same structure is used.
This makes it easy for you to migrate your old themes.
Update and Move Old Splash Screen Theme
If you’ve been using Ubuntu for some time with a custom splash screen, you’ll need to move the existing theme. Check them out. If they are ready to scratch, you can migrate them to a new directory.
Start by delving into the old theme directory, and checking its contents. You can do this in your file manager, or in the terminal. The latter is a good option to get an idea of the file size:
ls -ltrd /lib/plymouth/themes
You can leave old theme files when you move them. Go to
Then use the mv command to move the theme directories you want to keep, one by one.
mv [theThemeDirectory] /usr/share/plymouth/themes
Note that some older themes may need to be changed, as they will most likely include recursive references to old file locations. You’ll need a text editor to fix this, like vim or nano.
In the new destination, find the respective .plymouth theme files, and open them into a text editor. In the terminal, use:
sudo nano /usr/share/plymouth/themes/[theme_name]/[theme_name].plymouth
Find the reference to the file path, then change it from
use CTRL+X to save and exit the file.
Want More Ubuntu Splash Screen Themes
Various online locations provide Ubuntu-focused themes for your computer. GNOME-Look.org, for example, has a large collection of themes, grouped by usage. This includes Plymouth Theme section. Or, visit DeviantArt and search for “plymouth themes” and download the one you like. Usually no more than 3 MB.
Usually, the theme displays an installation script. For example, I downloaded ubuntu-vision theme from GNOME-Look.org for customizing splash screens.
The procedure is as follows:
- Download theme
- Extract to directory Home
- Find the install script
- Open a terminal and run it using ./install_script_name
- Choose any option for splash screen
After this, you need to change the filename and file path in the default.plymouth configuration file. This last step is very important as it ensures the new theme is used. In the terminal, enter
sudo nano default.plymouth
Edit the two file paths for ImageDir and ScriptFile, making sure they both point to the theme in question. Next, the ScriptFile should point to the correct script file in the theme directory.
Save file and exit (CTRL+X) then reboot your PC. Watch out for the new Ubuntu Splash screen!
Manually Install New Ubuntu Splash Screen
If the theme doesn’t have an installation script, you’ll need to add it manually to the plymouth/themes directory.
Extract the theme and copy it to the directory /usr/share/plymouth/themes. Whatever you use as your new splash screen, you should set it as the new default:
sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/share/plymouth/themes/default.plymouth default.plymouth /usr/share/plymouth/themes/"path/to-your-plymouth.plymouth" 100
Next, open the default.plymouth file in a text editor as described above and edit the filepaths.
Finally, update the initramfs, the virtual filesystem that is part of the boot procedure:
sudo update-initramfs -u
Now, when you reboot Ubuntu, you will see a new splash screen.
How About Logo
What if you just want to edit your Ubuntu logo? It’s that simple. Start by opening the directory usr/share/plymouth/themes, and find the directory containing the logo.
Then, make a copy of the file, just in case you want it back at some point:
cp [logo_file].png [logo_file_backup].png
How you proceed next is up to you. Maybe you want to use the original chart as a reference? In this case, open the file in your preferred image editor, and make the necessary changes. Otherwise, just create a new image, with the same dimensions, and save it in the same directory. Make sure the new logo file name is the same as the old logo.
Need New Splash Screen on Ubuntu
You probably already know how to change the desktop theme in your preferred Ubuntu desktop environment. However, the splash screen is a bit more complicated.
If you’re new to Ubuntu, these steps may seem a little foreign. However, nothing here is indirect. It’s also simpler than changing the splash screen in Windows 10! In the end, custom hacks like this one demonstrate how Linux can be configured.