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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.

First, get rid of the top panel. Right-click it, point to Panel, select Panel Preferences, and click the red Remove button. Use the drop-down box in the panel configuration window to select the other panel. Uncheck the 'Automatically show and hide the panel'  option and check the 'Automatically increase the length' option. Now we're getting somewhere! At this point, you should have a single taskbar-like panel across that bottom of your screen.

Use the buttons on the Items panel to remove the items you don't want, add the items you do want, and reorder them as you see fit. For a Windows 7-style taskbar, try using these items in the following order:

Applications Menu, Separator, Launcher, Window Buttons, Separator, Notification Area, Indicator Plugin, Show Desktop.

Add as many launchers (read: shortcuts) as you like to the launcher section and think of them as your new quick launch bar. Unfortunately, Xfce can't group applications and open windows the same way Windows 7's taskbar can, so it's a bit more old school.

To configure an item, select it in the list and click the Gear button. You'll also want to disable the 'Show button title' option in the Applications Menu item's settings.

Theming Xfce to look like Windows

Now we just have to make Xfce look more like Windows 7. If you didn't run any of the commands in the Unity section above, run the commands below in a terminal. (Right-click the desktop and select 'Open terminal here' to open a terminal in Xfce.)

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

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install win2-7

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

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

Open the Settings Manager from the applications menu and click the Appearance icon. Select Win2-7-theme in the Style list and select Win2-7 in the Icons list.

Press Alt+F2 and run the following command to get Windows 7-style window borders. If you're typing this out rather than copying and pasting, note that the command includes a double-dash, not a long em dash.

metacity --replace

Go into the Session and Startup panel in the Settings Manager, select the Application Autostarttab, and click the Add button. Enter Metacity as the application's name and metacity --replace as its command. Now Windows 7-style window borders will automatically start with your desktop.

To make your panel look more like Windows 7's panel, right-click it, point to Panel, and select Panel Preferences. On the Appearance tab, select Background image and browse to the \usr\share\themes\Win2-7-theme\gtk-2.0\Panel\ directory on your computer. Select a background image like Panel_Win2-7Basic800.png. The theme pack we installed includes a variety of panel backgrounds, so feel free to experiment.


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