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Over the last decade, I've been actively taking steps to reduce my reliance on Windows and switch to Linux as my primary OS. I can hear Izzy enthusiastically cheering!

I'm down to getting rid of my last 3 Windows-only applications, and I'm now engaged in the process of finding a suitable Linux distribution.

Having an OS that fully supports a dark mode (dark theme) is a hard requirement for me. The Windows ecosystem is a nightmare when it comes to supporting a dark mode. I'm hoping to find something much better in the Linux world.

To be dark mode compliant, all elements of the OS and applications running under it must support a dark background with lighter text. Ideally, the user will be able to set the values for these colors, as user-desired contrast plays a key role with dark user interfaces.

A key necessity is not having some user interface elements that are illegible or impossible to discern due to dark on dark or light on light elements (over 90% of Windows apps I have tested have this problematic issue).

Gratis is preferred, but not a requirement.

Requirements:

  • Full dark mode support
  • Open-source
  • No telemetry (or telemetry that can easily be fully disabled before the first transmission)
  • Stability for daily use
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That's a tough one, I am curious for the answers if there are any.

In the meantime I would recommend having a look at Ubuntu Studio 20.10 (the one which introduces Plasma). From my brief look at it it seems to handle dark mode much better than earlier versions. Keep in mind that there won't be a "Dark Mode" switch, you would have to select the appropriate theme in the Settings (and there are dark ones by default I believe).

But I doubt all your requirements like user-settable colors or adjustable contrast will be fulfilled, unless you want to create a theme yourself.

Edit: Turns out, the latest 20.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Studio already has pretty good dark mode support as well.

Here some screenies of it with one of the dark themes (Adwaita-dark), out of the box without any application-specific tweaks:

Ubuntu Studio 20.04 Desktop Dark Mode

Ubuntu Studio 20.04 Libre Office Dark Mode

Ubuntu Studio 20.04 Firefox Dark Mode

As you can see, most apps honour it, but they may also implement their own color scheme - see Audacity. Audacity also has its proper Dark Mode however.

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  • Thanks Sebastian. In Windows, most apps pretty much ignore part or all of the OS theme. Thus, even when creating a Windows dark theme, many applications still appear with bright colors or - worse - they appear with light on light or dark on dark colors. In Linux, when you apply a dark theme, does that dark theme get applied effectively to applications as well? Also, in Windows it's a bit of effort to create a quality dark theme, but I was able to complete (and test) that project in about 2-3 hours. Would it take longer than that in Linux? I'm fine with creating my own theme, if needed. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Feb 25 at 3:42
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    Well, usually the theme gets applied to all the applications, yes. Depending on the application however some might look less good. For example, I never liked how Thunderbird and Firefox look with the dark themes on my current Ubuntu Studio. But it also depends on the quality of the theme of course. And then of course there are more and more applications that implement their own dark theme. As to doing your own theme, I guess it's possible since there are plenty of custom themes out there, but I can't say how much work it would be. My guess is it's not quick and simple. – Sebastian Feb 25 at 20:42
  • Thanks Sebastian. Fortunately, the one application I have wired wonderfully for dark theme is Firefox. It took a lot of code, time, and effort, but I've got it dialed in real good. I've got the Firefox UI 100% complete, and websites at about 99%, which is about as good as is possible given the virtually infinite possibilities of web design. – RockPaperLz- Mask it or Casket Feb 26 at 1:31

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