Ade Malsasa Akbar contact
Senior author, Open Source enthusiast.
Thursday, February 28, 2019 at 14:29

(Emerald Themer 0.8.17 running on Ubuntu Bionic)
This tutorial explains in step by step how to install Emerald window decorator on Ubuntu 18.04. You will compile the source code manually after installing required packages and get Emerald Manager program as the final result. Then you can use Emerald Manager to install many Emerald Themes available on or such theme download sites and have experiments as much as you like. The insturctions below are accompanied with screenshots and they are not difficult to follow. Enjoy!

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See also Kvantum on KDE | Plasma Mojave-CT | Plasma 5.11 | Oxygen on Plasma 5 | neon for Graphic Designers | neon Review


I have actually two different motives to write this tutorial:
  • 1) I wanted to learn about Emerald since years but I could not. Now I can do it as I can get enough internet access.
  • 2) There are so many Emerald Window Decorator Themes on I believe you and myself want to try those themes on our latest GNU/Linux distros.

Wait, what's Emerald anyway?

Yes, what's Emerald? We can see on many cool Emerald themes but perhaps we do not have idea what actually it is. To understand Emerald we need to know about Compiz and X11.

  •  X11: basically a collection of integrated programs as the formal foundation of user interface on GNU/Linux. Without X11, our display shows only text interface in black and white. With X11, we see cursors & menus & windows & buttons. Visit for more info.
  • Compiz: a collection of integrated programs running over X11 to provide us compositing. X11 provides the foundation, Compiz draws us GUI with effects using that foundation to us. With Compiz we can see wobbly and transparent window effects. Visit for more info.
  • Emerald: one kind of software called window decorator. A window decorator decorates outer frame of every window on your desktop, including making them translucent. Emerald is a decorator particularly created to use with Compiz. 
  • Emerald theme: a theme for Emerald window decorator. An Emerald theme file name is typically ended with .emerald extension. You can find that Emerald themes number is very great (if not greatest) on theme download sites like 

( with the number of Emerald themes)

1. Install Required Packages

On KDE neon 5.15 (based on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS) I run this command to install dependencies of Emerald.
$ sudo apt-get install build-essential libxcomposite-dev libpng12-dev 
libjpeg-dev libsm-dev libxrandr-dev libxdamage-dev libxinerama-dev 
libstartup-notification0-dev libgconf2-dev libgl1-mesa-dev 
libglu1-mesa-dev libmetacity-dev librsvg2-dev libdbus-1-dev 
libdbus-glib-1-dev libgnome-desktop-dev libgnome-window-settings-dev git autoconf automake automake1.9 libtool intltool libxslt1-dev xsltproc libwnck-dev python-dev python-pyrex libwnck-3-0 libwnck-3-common libwnck-3-dev checkinstall

2. Download Emerald Code

Commands below will download an emerald directory full with source code in your ~/Downloads directory. Inside that directory, you find files named, INSTALL, and COPYING.
$ cd ~/Downloads
$ git clone

3. Generate configure Script

Command below generates a configure script for you. The result is a file named configure.
$ cd emerald/ 
$ ./


4. Configure

Command below configures all source code for next compiling step.
$ ./configure


5. Compile

Command below compiles all source code as dictated by configure script above. This may needs few minutes to finish. The result is binary code executable program of Emerald ready to be installed.

$ make


6. Install

Command below installs the compiled Emerald software into your GNU/Linux system. If you do this, you will find Emerald program on start menu. Alternatively, see next step, you can instead create Debian package (.deb) and install Emerald that way if you dislike this method.
$ sudo make install


7. Create Debian Package

Instead of previous step, you may prefer making a Debian package (.deb) of the successfully compiled software. Making Debian package has many advantages, among them is you can redistribute the executable program easier. Amazing, right? Let's go: simply run this command and you will be asked many times and simply press Enter for every question. The result should be a Debian package named similar to emerald_0.8.17-1_amd64.deb.
$ sudo checkinstall --install=no


(See the pink icon? That's the Debian package produced.)

Final Result

You will find new program on your start menu named Emerald Theme Manager. That is the result. Now you can install Emerald Themes from theme download sources above as much as you like. You can also edit them as you wish.

Some Error and Solution

The original script says it needs libwnck-3.0 and similarly named packages. However, on Ubuntu 18.04 the package name changed as it does not use  dot  but dash  so the correct name is now libwnck-3-0. I know this from the first error when running script. The solution is of course to install libwnck-3-0 package.

I know the correct package file name from apt-cache output:

Closing Words

That's all. It is actually not hard, it's just a little bit long, but as long as you know the steps everything could be easy. You may wonder why compiling here and the answer is because Emerald is not available in the Ubuntu official repository for +/-15 years. It's also not available in Debian for +/-25 years. Anyway, it's truly fun to try and exciting to achieve the final result. Have fun. And share it with your friends!

This article is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.