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I'd like to replace the icons for some of the applications on GNOME desktop. I looked into the default Adwaita icon directory and noticed that it has directories for icons of different sizes (e.g., 8x8, 64x64) and I was wondering what is the points of stroing the same icons for different dimensions and would having a uniform icon size (e.g., 128x128) affect the system negatively performancewise?

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No, scaling a few icons would not affect system performance measurably (this is 2023, not 1990). Your desktop does much much more complicated things every time your screen is updated than that!

The thing is that on a 16×16 px icon, you often don't want to just used a scaled-down version of the 128×128 px icon. You would want to use a different, more simple icon.

For those cases where icons actually do scale fine, you can also go into the scalable folder and put a vector graphics icon there.

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