Oct 072016
Pixel tips

Last week. Simon Long from Raspberry Pi released a new version of Raspbian with several new features. The most visible of these is the new-look desktop skin, named PIXEL (Pi Improved Xwindows Environment, Lightweight).

PIXEL splash screen

PIXEL splash screen

There’s a lot of user interface (UI) tweaks both functional and visual…

  • new splash screen on boot
  • stunning background images added
  • a whole new set of icons
  • larger ‘drag handles’ for resizing windows (that’s bugged me for years)
  • windows now have rounded corners
  • new font rendering package for better typography

I think the new look is a big improvement and I love it. ‘Grabbing’ the corner of a window to resize it has always been a bit harder than it should have been, so I’m delighted about the larger drag handles too.

So What Else is New?

Other tweaks include using Chromium as default browser and realvnc is pre-installed. I’m delighted by the addition of Chromium as it means I can use a Pi3B for G+ hangouts which I use a lot when I should be working for communicating and collaborating with people. I can now do this in the workshop whilst monitoring twitter and QC testing Pro Hats – all using the same Pi3.

I Want to Tweak PIXEL

But we all like to personalise our computing, so what if you want to tweak it for yourself? How would you manage that? Below are a few tips I’ve collected showing ways you can tweak or customise your PIXEL/Raspbian.

Don’t Want a Splash Screen?

If you prefer the retro look of the boot messages racing by, rather than the splash screen, there are two ways to achieve this…

  1. Using raspi-config application, choose “boot to CLI” instead of “boot to desktop”
  2. Opening raspi-config

    Opening raspi-config

    Select "To CLI"

    Select “To CLI”

    If you boot to CLI (command line interface) and then want the desktop, you’ll need to type startx to run it.

  3. Delete “quiet splash” from /boot/cmdline.txt
  4. sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt
    remove quiet splash

    Removing "quiet splash" disables splash screen

    Removing “quiet splash” disables splash screen

    Save and exit (CTRL+X, y, ENTER)

Want to Change the Splash Graphic?

This is quite easy. All you have to do is replace /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/splash.png with your chosen graphic. It must be called splash.png though.

Supposing your required splash graphic is /home/pi/raspitv.png you would move (mv) it like this…

First let’s back up the old one in case we want to revert…
sudo cp /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/splash.png /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/oldsplash.png

Then move the new graphic…
sudo mv /home/pi/raspitv.png /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/splash.png

sudo is required because the target directory is owned by the root user.

So then the default splash becomes your own customised version…

RasPi.TV splash screen

RasPi.TV splash screen

NOTE: If you do a dist-upgrade your splash file will be overwritten with the new official PIXEL one showing the new version.

How to Disable Tooltips

If you hover over objects in the user interface, you see pop-out bubbles (‘callouts’) explaining what they are/do.

Here's a tooltip (callout)

Here’s a tooltip (callout)

If you no longer wish to see these, or find they get in your way, you can switch them off by adding a new line…

gtk-enable-tooltips = 0

…right at the beginning of the file ~/.themes/PiX/gtk-2.0/gtkrc

nano ~/.themes/PiX/gtk-2.0/gtkrc
gtk-enable-tooltips = 0

Disable tooltips

Disable tooltips

Then next time you restart LXDE the tooltips should be disabled.

I Miss the Raspberry Pi Desktop Logo. Can I Reinstate it?

Yes. You can select it with the Appearance Settings application – it lives here…

Appearance settings

Appearance settings

Selecting the Pi logo graphic

Selecting the Pi logo graphic

Then be sure to change “fill screen with image” to “centre image on screen” or the Pi logo will be huge.

Centre image on screen

Centre image on screen

Where are the New Icons Stored?

All the new icons are here if you need access to them for your own documentation or apps…

New icons' hiding place

New icons’ hiding place

Enjoy Tweaking

Hopefully you found these ‘PIXEL tips’ useful. Enjoy tweaking your PIXELs. If you have any more tips, feel free to share them below in the comments.

  21 Responses to “Pixel Tips and Tweaks – how to Tweak Aspects of the new Raspbian Skin”

  1. Nice post, i thought of changing the splash screen and after reading this i did. Easy to do when you know where to look :D

  2. great tips, nice desk,,wonder whats behind the paper towel you don’t want people to see,,,lol

    • Those two squares of paper towel are covering two 12V halogen lamps which illuminate my face when I’m shooting videos. The light is a bit harsh without a diffuser, so I have a piece of paper towel on each acting as diffuser. So probably not as exciting as you imagined it might be. :)

      • thanks, and i thought they were peep holes to the interweb:)

      • Wow! Hi-tech solutions like this are just brilliant! Let you in on a secret – before Post-It notes we used sticky tape and paper to attach info to our VDUs. Same with keyboard short cuts – Word Perfect.

        You need to find a good name and patent it fast. Alex’s Low-Tech Rero Light Diffusers. They might catch on 😂

  3. Thanks for all this new info, Alex, very useful.

    I’m glad to see another “cluttered” work area, like my own, but am hard pressed to understand how you will incorporate the deer horn into a future project.

  4. My version of Pixel (and subsequent upgrades) are missing the navigation bar at the top and Chromium did not install. I had to install it manually. I also get an error message when I try and configure WiFi (“Invalid desktop entry file…”). Anybody got an idea?
    RPi 2B+, 32GB SD card, Internet USB dongle and Logitech USB dongle… 2A Power supply.

  5. I successfully added an icon to the desktop that runs a script to announce the current time in audio. Can someone tell me how to add that icon to the taskbar instead?

  6. Does anyone know how to turn off the rounded corners on application windows?

  7. “gtk-enable-tooltips” can be either “TRUE or “FALSE”

  8. Good tips, but changing splash.png did not work for me on Pixel :(

  9. Hello, since I have a small laptop screen (Motorola Atrix) I prefer “medium” size for the menu bar, then I can set this from Desktop Preferences… but now, every time I maximize a window or application, there’s a small gap reducing my maximum, apparently due to the previous “large” size of the menu bar… still hovering. How to solve this? Many thanks! :)

  10. How do i make a custom resolution for PIXEL? I’m using a 3.5 in touch screen, and go everything tweaked up they way I like, but it’s still displaying in 720×480 I need 480X320.

  11. Do you have any idea how to make Pixel not show window contents when dragging or resizing. I would prefer if I could get it to just show a sizing rectangle and redraw when I have finished the operation. This progressive redraw looks terrible and hurts my head.

  12. Some browser for raspbian pixel 1.3, that you can see videos of youtube and also other pages without being blocked

  13. I edited the splash screen with costum graphic and loading bar. And also removed the messages (We need a silent boot).

    Change splash.png as already mentioned.

    Edit /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/pix.script
    add ”
    #—————————————– Progress Bar ——————————–

    progress_box.image = Image(“progress_box.png”);
    progress_box.sprite = Sprite(progress_box.image);

    progress_box.x = Window.GetX() + Window.GetWidth() / 2 – progress_box.image.GetWidth() / 2;
    progress_box.y = Window.GetY() + Window.GetHeight() / 2 – progress_box.image.GetHeight() / 2;
    progress_box.sprite.SetPosition(progress_box.x, progress_box.y, 0);

    progress_bar.original_image = Image(“progress_bar.png”);
    progress_bar.sprite = Sprite();

    progress_bar.x = Window.GetX() + Window.GetWidth() / 2 – progress_bar.original_image.GetWidth() / 2;
    progress_bar.y = Window.GetY() + Window.GetHeight() / 2 – progress_box.image.GetHeight() / 2 + (progress_box.image.GetHeight() – progress_bar.original_image.GetHeight()) / 2;
    progress_bar.sprite.SetPosition(progress_bar.x, progress_bar.y, 1);

    fun progress_callback (duration, progress)
    if (progress_bar.image.GetWidth () != Math.Int (progress_bar.original_image.GetWidth () * progress))
    progress_bar.image = progress_bar.original_image.Scale(progress_bar.original_image.GetWidth(progress_bar.original_image) * progress, progress_bar.original_image.GetHeight());
    progress_bar.sprite.SetImage (progress_bar.image);

    #—————————————– Quit ——————————–

    ” before the line with “if (Plymouth.GetMode() != “shutdown”)”

    then copied progress_bar.png and progress_box.png from /usr/share/plymouth/themes/script/ to /usr/share/plymouth/themes/pix/

    I removed also the “fun display_message_callback” function and whats related to it for a more silent boot.

    you can also switch to other splash screens by using “sudo plymouth-set-default-theme -l” to get a list of themes and then “sudo plymouth-set-default-theme -R THEME”

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