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How to make Ubuntu Linux look like Windows 7

Chris Hoffman | Feb. 22, 2013
Are you ready to make the jump to Linux, but scared of learning a whole new interface? Here's how to make unfamiliar Ubuntu look and feel like the familiar Windows 7 desktop.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:upubuntu-com/gtk3

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install win2-7

The Win2-7 theme is now installed. To enable the icon, window border, and widget theme, copy and paste the following commands into the terminal. As you run each command, you'll see your desktop gradually transform and become more Windows-like.

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface gtk-theme 'Win2-7-theme'

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences theme 'Win2-7-theme'

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.interface icon-theme 'Win2-7-icons'

The taskbar-like launcher at the left side of your screen will still be a different color. Never fear--like Windows 7's taskbar, the launcher derives its colors from your desktop wallpaper. For this article, we'll use Windows 7's default wallpaper, which you can find all over the Internet. (I snagged my copy from an old ZDNet post.) If you're using Firefox on Ubuntu, right-click the full-size wallpaper image in your browser and select Set as Desktop Background.

You'll also want to move the window management buttons--close, minimize, and maximize-- located at the top-left corner of each window by default. Use this command to put them in a Windows-style order:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.wm.preferences button-layout 'menu:minimize,maximize,close'

To remove the Mac-style global menu bar and put the menu bar (containing File/Edit/View) back into each individual application window, run this command:

sudo apt-get autoremove appmenu-gtk appmenu-gtk3 appmenu-qt indicator-appmenu

You'll have to log out and log back in for this change to take effect. Use the button at the top-right corner of your screen to log out.

Do you like what you see? This is as close to Windows 7 as we're going to get with Ubuntu's default Unity desktop environment. If it doesn't quite scratch your itch, keep reading to learn how to create a more traditional Windows 7-style look using the Xfce desktop environment.

Installing and customizing Xfce

For this method, we'll be throwing Ubuntu's default Unity desktop out and going our own way. (Okay, we're not actually throwing it out, just selecting a different environment on the login screen). Xfce is one of the most popular desktops that still offers a lot of configurability. Install it with this command:

sudo apt-get install xubuntu-desktop

Log out of Ubuntu using the menu at the top-right corner of the screen and click the icon next to your name on the login screen. Select Xubuntu session and log in normally. (You can install multiple desktop environments and toggle between them on the login screen like this.)

Xfce also uses a two-panel layout by default. We'll have to do some heavy customization to get it looking more like Windows 7, but it's all graphical--if you're a Windows power user, you've done this kind of tweaking many times before.


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