0. It is assumed you have what ever driver for 3d and transparency installed. The ppa has been set up for Karmic, Lucid, and Maverick. This can be found in System -> Administration -> Hardware Drivers.
1. To add the PPA and get the keys, go to Applications->Accessories->Terminal and run
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:erik-b-andersen/rgba-gtk
2. Go to System -> Administration -> Update Manager and click check. Then install the updates, which will install the necessary packages for RGBA Gtk.
Or, if you like to do it via Terminal (optional), just run:
sudo apt-get update ; sudo apt-get upgrade
3. Go to System -> Preferences -> Gnome Color Chooser. Go to the Engines tab. Check the box next to Global and choose Murrine in the drop down list next to the check box. Click Preferences. In the window that comes up find 'Configuration of Enable/Disable RGBA support', and check both boxes under that section. Click OK. Click Apply and then Close.
4. Go to System -> Preferences -> Appearance. On the theme tab click Customize... and then in the window that comes up, on the Controls tab, select a murrine theme. Close Close and then Close (again).
5. Log out and then log back in.
You may want to blur the transparency with compiz to make it easier to read text that is on a transparent area of a window. To do this,
1. Go to Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center.
2. Search for compiz and install the packages compiz-fusion-plugins-extra(you may have to install this using synaptic in karmic) and Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (ccsm).
3. Go to System -> Preferences -> Compiz Config Settings Manager.
4. Search for blur windows, and check the box next to it, and then click on it.
5. Set the Blur Filter to Gaussian and Gaussian Radius to around 4 or 5.
6. When you are satisfied with the result, just close the window.
Q & A
Q: Why don't Firefox, Thunderbird, Songbird, OpenOffice, or Chrome run with RGBA?
A: They are XUL, Java, and ? (respectively), not Gnome applications. Non-native applications are not compatible with RGBA nor Gnome-GlobalMenu.
Q: Why don't Google Earth and Skype run with RGBA?
A: Earth and Skype are Qt, not Gnome applications, so while it should be possible to provide RGBA for them, it will require a completely different code base and is outside the scope of this project.
Q: Why doesn't Inkscape run with RGBA?
A: It runs, but I set it not to run with RGBA because some of the color palettes show through in a really weird blending mode. If this isn't a problem for you, you can remove it from the list of applications not to run in /etc/profile.d/gtkrgba.sh.
Q: Why doesn't Totem run with RGBA?
A: Because it has an embedded (gstreamer) window. Most applications with embedded windows don't seem to work well with RGBA. (Unfortunately, I don't know enough about programming to know how to fix these applications.)
Q: What does nautilus, the murrine engine, and murrine themes have to do with RGBA?
A: Nautilus is patched to not crash with RGBA and because of redraw problems, the murrine themes have a line added that enables transparency, and the murrine theme engine was recompiled to be more transparent.
Q: Wasn't RGBA Gtk going to be in Lucid by default?
A: It was, but it got postponed until Lucid+1. See this bug comment.
Q: It works with Gnome Shell?
A: It used to. Then something changed and it crashes, so I will have to blacklist it.
Q: Why the Indicator Applet isn't transparent on the panel with the ambiance theme on lucid?
Q: How can I get RGBA enabled on synaptic (which is run as sudo) ?
A: Doing sudo -i and then running synaptic seems to work. I'm not sure how to make it work with sudo synaptic or gksudo synaptic though.
(Feel free to add your own...I'll try to answer them)
If you install it and then hate it - don't worry. It can easily be put right.
1. Go to System -> Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager.
2. Click the Origin button in the bottom left hand corner.
If you're running Karmic:
If you're running Lucid:
Select ppa.launchpad.net/main from the sidebar on the left
Select the 'erik-b-andersen/rgba-gtk' PPA from the sidebar on the left
4. Select each of nautilus, nautilus-data, libnautilus-extension1, murrine-themes, and gtk2-engines-murrine in turn, going to Package -> Force Version and choosing the version of that package that does not have ppa in it.
5. When you've marked all that can be for downgrading click Apply and Apply (again).
6. Go to Settings -> Repositories.
7. On the Other Software Tab, select the 'http://ppa.launchpad.net/erik-b-andersen/rgba-gtk/ubuntu' source, and click Remove.
8. Click Close and Close (again).
9. In the sidebar, click the Sections button and then select All.
10. Search for gnome-color-chooser and mark it for removal, and then search for gtk2-module-rgba and mark it for complete removal.
11. Click Apply and Apply (again). Close synaptic.