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Best Ways to Customize Look & Feel of Kali Linux

Kali Linux developers added Xfce as the new default desktop environment in Kali Linux for the new release. One of the main benefits of Xfce, in terms of customization, is that it is a fully modular desktop. We can use all kinds of programs to change its behavior and appearance.

After the 2020.1 update we can use Kali Linux as our main operating system and use it in our daily life.

Customize Look & Feel of Kali Linux

While developers thinks Kali looks impressive out of the box, we the users love to customize. In this detailed article, We’ll talk about some tricks to customize the new Xfce desktop environment of Kali Linux and help make our computer stand out.

General Tips and Tricks

Here we discuss about some general tips then we demonstrate some examples.

Changing the theme to dark/light

Changing Kali’s look isn’t overly complicated, but if we are switching the dark/light theme or want to install a new one, then we need to know which settings will make the whole desktop look uniform. Those are the following:

  • Appearance theme
  • Icon theme
  • Window Manager theme
  • Terminal color scheme
  • Text editor color scheme

 General script

With the following scripts we can quickly switch between Kali’s light/dark themes. The only thing we need to change manually is qterminal’s color scheme.

For the Light theme

We can use following commands to set up light theme in our Kali Linux:

xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/IconThemeName -s Flat-Remix-Blue-Light

xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/ThemeName -s Kali-Light

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/theme -s Kali-Light

gsettings set org.xfce.mousepad.preferences.view color-scheme Kali-Light

For the Dark theme

Dark theme's commands are as following:

xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/IconThemeName -s Flat-Remix-Blue-Dark

xfconf-query -c xsettings -p /Net/ThemeName -s Kali-Dark

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/theme -s Kali-Dark

gsettings set org.xfce.mousepad.preferences.view color-scheme Kali-Dark

kali linux themes

Transparent panel

Transparent panel

Xfce-panel settings allows us to modify each panel configuration separately (right-click over the panel → Panel → Panel preferences).

Once we’ve selected the one we want to modify, we need to go to the Appearance tab, change the Background→Style setting to Solid color and we use the color selector that will appear below. In case we want to adjust its opacity or make it completely transparent, we can move the slider located under the color box. Which is shown in following animation.

kali panel settings

If we also want to remove the panel’s shadow, we can open the Window Manager Tweaks application, and, inside the Compositor section, disable the Show shadows under dock windows check-box. Alternatively, we can use the following command:

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/show_dock_shadow -s false
kali panel shadow

Changing the menu icon

We can change the menu icon also Right-click over the menu icon → Properties.

changing menu icon

kali menu icon changing settings

The icon selector will show us all the icons comes pre-installed on our computer, but, if we want, we also can use a custom image as well.

Plank The Advanced Taskbar

Plank is a customizable dock. Plank is meant to be the simplest dock on the planet. The goal is to provide just what a dock needs and absolutely nothing more.

plank on kali linux

We can install plank via following command:

sudo apt-get install plank
The only tricky part is that if we need to configure it to launch on login. To do so, we need to open the Session and Startup application and add Plank to the autostart list.

plank on startup

As with Xfce-panel, you will need to disable dock shadows. Otherwise, it will draw a shadow line in the middle of your desktop.

Window Manager Tweaks → Compositor → disable Show shadows under dock windows.

disable the shadow of dock

Tip: If ywe want to open Plank settings we can press Ctrl + Right-click over plank dock. We can change the theme and make it completely transparent.

Numerical workspace switcher

In some cases, the numerical workspace switcher looks better than the miniature view. To configure it, disable the "Show miniature view" inside the widget’s settings (right-click it → Preferences). Then, we open the workspace settings and manually replace their names with numbers.

numerical workspaces

Tip: If we want to increase the button dimension, add some spaces to each side of the workspace name. We don’t need to do it with all of them, only with one, and the rest will use the same size.

We can see the detailed customization in following animation:

kali workspace animation

Window animations using Compton

Xfce uses Xfwm4 as the default display compositor, which is very lightweight. It lacks all the animations of the modern desktops, which makes it look outdated. Hopefully, as we mentioned before, Xfce is a modular desktop, thus we can replace it with a different display compositor, such as Compton.

compton in Kali Linux

Installing Compton in Kali Linux

We can install Compton in Kali Linux by using following command:

sudo apt-get install compton -y
It is very crucial to disable Xfwm compositing before launching Compton (inside Window Manager Tweaks → Compositor), and we need to add it to the autostart list as well. We also recommend disabling the Draw frame around selected window while cycling option. Alternatively, we can use the following command:

xfconf-query -c xfwm4 -p /general/use_compositing -s false

Restore Kali’s default appearance

If we did anything wrong and our Kali looks like a shit, and we don't know what we have did or how to fix it. Then, we can use a single command to undo all the visual changes that we’ve applied to our desktop and we are back into Kali's default apperarance. The command is following:

rm -rf ~/.config/xfce4/ && sudo reboot

Examples of customizations

It may be easier to follow these customizations. We can just follow following steps to customize our Kali Linux and give it an outstanding look.

Example #1

kali customization 1
kali cutomization1 menu

  • Theme: Kali-Dark
  • Wallpaper: kali-rings
  • Panel settings (following screenshot):
kali-customazion 1 settings

Example #2

kali-customization 2

kali-customization 2 menu
  • Theme: Kali-Light
  • Wallpaper: kali-small-logo
  • Font Family: Quicksand Medium Bold
  • Panel settings (following screenshot):
kali customization 2 panel settings

Example #3

kali customization 3

kali customization 3 mens

  • Theme: Kali-Dark
  • Wallpaper: kali-small-logo
  • Desktop Icons:Icons orientation: Bottom Right Vertical
Window Manager settings:
  •  Title alignment: Left
  • Move window close/maximize/minimize buttons to the left side
  • These settings allow you to save some vertical space, as the title-bar and the panel will be joined when the window is maximized.
kali customization 3 titlebar

Plank settings:
  • Theme: Transparent
  • Position: Left
  • Alignment: Center
  • Icon Size: 48
  • Icon Zoom: Enabled
  • Hide Dock: Enabled – Intellihide
Panel settings(following screenshot):

kali customization 3 panel settings

Example #4

kali customization 4 menus
  • Theme: Kali-Dark
  • Wallpaper: Community Wallpaper link included below
Plank settings:
  • Theme: Transparent
  • Position: Bottom
  • Alignment: End
  • Icon Size: 64
  • Icon Zoom: Disabled
  • Behaviour:Hide Dock: Enabled – Intellihide
Panel settings(following screenshot):

link of the wallpaper

We can download more cool wallpaers of Kali Linux by using following commands:

sudo apt install -y kali-community-wallpapers

sudo apt install -y kali-legacy-wallpapers

Best terminal graphical tools for Kali Linux

We were only going to talk about desktop customizations, but after adding all the screenshots with the terminal windows, it's our duty to share the tools we used.

To stylize the terminal a bit more, we like to hide the menu bar and increase the terminal’s transparency to 15%. We can find both settings inside the preferences window with right-click → Preferences, in the Appearance section of Terminal.

We need to uncheck the Show the menu bar box and change the transparency values. For this, wee need to find two different values: the Application transparency will change the whole window opacity, and the Terminal transparency will only change the area of the terminal.


htop is an interactive system-monitor process-viewer and process-manager. It is designed as an alternative to the Unix program top. It shows a frequently updated list of the processes running on a computer, normally ordered by the amount of CPU usage.


sudo apt-get install -y htop


This terminal-based graphical activity monitor not included in the above screenshots, but we can use it to give a out of this world look.


sudo apt install -y golang

go get

go run


This is the command line system information tool appeared used in above screenshots.


sudo apt-get install neofetch -y


Get rainbows and unicorns on neofetch. This tool commonly appears used together with neofetch, adding a stunning rainbow effect to its output.


sudo apt-get install lolcat -y
We can run lolcat with neofetch by applying following command:

neofetch | lolcat

Have a customized Kali Linux?

During the worldwide lock-down we can customize our Kali Linux at home, and learn something new from our other articles.

Used any of the tips in this article, we’d love to see the results. Share a screenshot and tag us on Twitter: KaliLinux.In. Follow us on Twitter and Medium for quick updates.
Kali Linux


Post a Comment
  • Architec photo
    ArchitecApril 13, 2020 at 7:51 PM

    You got a very excellent website, Gladiolus I observed it through yahoo. Poetry Naveed Ahmed

    Delete Comment
    • AnonymousJune 11, 2020 at 12:57 AM

      sudo apt install -y kali-community-wallpapers

      sudo apt install -y kali-legacy-wallpapers

      after install where can i found this wallpaper?

      Delete Comment
    • Unknown photo
      UnknownSeptember 17, 2020 at 10:36 AM

      Want to hack my account

      Delete Comment