Cursor themes

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There are many cursor themes available for the X11 Windowing System besides the default black pointer. This guide will instruct you on where to get them, installing them, and configuring them.

Getting Mouse Cursor Themes

Here are links to where you may download cursor:

Also, some themes available through AUR

Installing Mouse Cursor Themes

  • Extract the cursor theme package:
$ tar -zxvf foobar-cursor-theme-package-foo.tar.gz


$ tar -jxvf foobar-cursor-theme-package-foo.tar.bz2
  • Make a directory for the cursor theme:

Example: ~FooBar-~AweSoMe-Cursors-v2.98beta

Per-user installation:

$ mkdir -p ~/.icons/foobar/cursors

System-wide installation:

# mkdir -p /usr/share/icons/foobar/cursors

Be sure to simplify the name of the theme ('foobar' instead of '~FooBar-~AweSoMe-Cursors-v2.98beta')

  • Copy cursor files into the appropriate directory:
# cp -R FooBar-AweSoMe-Cursors-v2.98beta/cursors/* /usr/share/icons/foobar/cursors/

If the package includes index.theme file check if there is an "Inherits" line inside. If yes, check whether the inherited theme also exists under this name in your system (rename if needed).

Note that X already comes with the 'redglass' and 'whiteglass' themes in /usr/X11R6/lib/icons or /usr/share/icons.

Some applications keep using the default X11 cursor when a themed version of left_ptr_watch and the like should be shown. Have a look at the symlinks in the changelog belonging to the 3Dcursors project at KDE-Look to fix this.

  • Copy index.theme file into directory:
# cp -R FooBar-AweSoMe-Cursors-v2.98beta/index.theme /usr/share/icons/foobar/index.theme

If the package doesn't have index.theme or if it doesn't include an "Inherits" line you don't have to copy this file.

Configuring Cursor Themes

To locally change a cursor theme, add this line to your ~/.Xdefaults:

Xcursor.theme: foobar

Make sure the file ~/.Xdefaults is called by your window manager. You can force it to get loaded by running xrdb ~/.Xdefaults before loading your window manager (for example from .xinitrc if you use startx). Refer to your window manager documentation for details.

Alternatively, you can create a symlink "default" in ~/.icons, which should points to your installed cursor theme:

ln -s /usr/share/icons/foobar/ ~/.icons/default

If you rather want to change the cursor globally (e.g. used by graphical login managers like kdm, gdm, ...), or if you experience problems with above method (for example in Firefox), create the /usr/share/icons/default/ directory (only if needed), create the /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme file and add the following:

# mkdir /usr/share/icons/default  *only if needed
# editor /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme
[icon theme] 

Or if you have your cursor themes in ~/.icons only. Create the ~/.icons/default/ directory and create the ~/.icons/default/index.theme file with the same contents as above:

mkdir ~/.icons/default
editor ~/.icons/default/index.theme
  • editor = your favorite text editor, for example vim, nano, emacs, etc...

You can optionally add this line to ~/.Xdefaults if your cursor theme supports multiple sizes:

Xcursor.size:  32       #  32, 48 or 64 are probably good values

If you don't know about supported cursor sizes just start X without this setting and let it choose the cursor size automatically.

More information

For more information about cursors in X (supported directories, formats, compatibility, etc.) refer to the man page:

man Xcursor

Note: if the animations are flickering on your nvidia card, add the following line to your xorg.conf file, into the nvidia device section, to fix it:

Option "HWCursor" "off"


WikiMigration--dlanor 13:33, 23 Jul 2005 (EDT)