So, this is a strange occurrence, which seems similar to other questions but which I've not been able to find a reference for. Maybe my Google-Fu is not strong right now.

It seems to be a common complaint that user's root apps (sudo'd apps like Synaptic) are falling back on default themes. Usually the solution is given as "copy themes from ~/.themes to /usr/share/themes or /root/.themes," for example. This hasn't worked for me, because there's nothing listed in ~/.themes for me.

Then I figured out that changing the controls setting in the Appearance dialog breaks root app theming instantly. See the following screenshots.

Before Default Mint-X theme/controls selected

After One click later, root app theme broken

Installing another themeset (such as grey-theme from Synaptic) appears to break this somehow too, although it goes away when uninstalled. I have not tested this extensively and it may be a fluke related to the controls changing.

On a hunch, I tried running sudo mate-appearance-properties and/or gksudo mate-appearance-properties. Notably, nothing changed when I selected different controls, not even the root app. Also, sudo had only the default theme selected, but gksudo had "Custom Theme" selected, which was identical to the default and also could not be changed. Unsure what this means, if anything.

So, long story short, I doubt this is a bug per se, but I would like to be able to change my default theme/controls and have root apps follow it somehow.

  • Can we assume you're using the MATE desktop environment? – terdon Aug 24 '14 at 8:12

You're probably looking for the -E option of sudo which causes it to keep your user's environment variables:

 -E, --preserve-env
             Indicates to the security policy that the user wishes to pre‐
             serve their existing environment variables.  The security
             policy may return an error if the user does not have permis‐
             sion to preserve the environment.

I just tested this on my Cinnamon LMDE and running sudo -E eom preserves the theme.

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