In trisquel the file folder looks like the first picture. Debian is the second. They both use lightdm and I installed the gtk+ greeter. Unity doesn't appear to be in the debian repos but I don't think the trisquel pictures is unity (it looks fairly different from ubuntus). How do I get my debain installation looking like the first picture?

Notice the icons at the top of the folder window and the icons on the left side

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You can change the icon themes by selecting the settings manager. Then, I think it's called appearance but it should be the one on the upper left hand corner. There, you can select icon themes. You can install new icon themes from apt-get, from gnome-look.org, noobslab or elsewhere like deviantart.

Download and extract the icon themes to a newly created folder named ~/.icons.

By the looks of it, the thunar example you gave me was using metacity instead of xfwm. You can install metacity with the following commands:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install metacity metacity-common metacity-themes

to use metacity:

metacity --replace

You will have to install dconf-tools and dconf-editor to change the metacity theme.

to revert back to the original xfce window manager:

xfwm --replace

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