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ubuntu tipsLinux is probably the most customizable How To Create A Custom Splash Image For Grub 2 [Linux] How To Create A Custom Splash Image For Grub 2 [Linux] Read More of all mainstream operating systems. There’s an incredible amount of options, tools, themes and steps you can take to make the time you spend in the company of your PC more aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re on the pursuit of eye-candy, perhaps a Mac OS X flavour or even want to pretend you’re still in Windows-land then with enough tweaking and the right resources you can.

The following tools and resources are all free (as usual) and should hopefully transform your drab GNOME desktop How To Customize Your Linux Desktop With GnomeART-NG How To Customize Your Linux Desktop With GnomeART-NG Read More into a pimped-out play area.

Compiz Settings Manager

Compiz is responsible for all those pretty animations, fades and window-wobbles that your Ubuntu Ubuntu 10.04 - An Extremely Simple Operating System [Linux] Ubuntu 10.04 - An Extremely Simple Operating System [Linux] Read More install can already do. If you want to pick and choose, however, you’re going to need to install the Compiz Settings Manager.

ubuntu tips

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Open up a new Terminal window (Applications, Accessories then Terminal) and type:

sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

Input your password when asked and once the download and installation is complete you will find a new entry in System, Preferences called CompizConfig Settings Manager. Open her up and behold at the treasure-trove of effects and eye-candy.

Then it’s up to you – but I’d recommend you enable Desktop Cube and Rotate Cube which provides 3D goodness when switching between desktops.

Emerald Window Decorator

Easily the best of all the window decorators, Emerald provides elegance and advanced behaviour customization all in one package. There’s a startling amount of themes available, most of which are beautifully put together, with lashings of transparency.

ubuntu tips and tricks

I personally didn’t like GNOME’s default (GTK) window decorator all that much, so when I found this I breathed a sigh of relief. To install Emerald (and everything it needs to work) simply open a new Terminal 5 Cool Apps to Make the Linux Terminal More Productive 5 Cool Apps to Make the Linux Terminal More Productive Read More window and type:

sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-plugins compiz-gnome compiz-core emerald compiz-fusion-plugins-main compiz-fusion-plugins-extra fusion-icon compizconfig-settings-manager

This will also install the Compiz Fusion Icon, a useful system tray icon that allows you to switch window decorators, change themes and access configuration settings with ease. Once installed you’ll find it in Applications, System Tools then Compiz-Fusion Icon.

ubuntu tips and tricks

Mac4Lin

This package (despite being slightly outdated) attempts to bring the OS X interface to a variety of non-Mac platforms. This will work on Linux, FreeBSD, openSolaris and any OS that takes advantage of GTK.

To install the package simply download the .ZIP file from the downloads page and unzip it to a directory of your choice. You’ll then need to find the Mac4Lin_Install_v1.0.sh file, right click it and choose Properties then the Persmissions tab. Check Allow executing file as a program and then OK Double click it, choose Run in Terminal and you’ll then be guided through the installation.

ubuntu tips

Once complete you should notice some familiar Apple icons Iconvert Converts Windows Icons to Mac and Vice Versa Online Iconvert Converts Windows Icons to Mac and Vice Versa Online Read More , be able to choose the Mac4Lin Aqua or Graphite themes, as well as OS X fonts and wallpapers. Ideal if you’re already running Ubuntu on your Mac and just can’t let go of that OS X look.

There’s also a Mac4Lin_Uninstall_v1.0.sh file, which (you guessed it) removes the OS X look. Just remember to make it executable first.

Get The Windows Look

If you’re particularly fond of the way Windows dresses itself up then it is possible to imitate the environment with GNOME. For a Windows XP look then try XPGnome which does a startlingly good job and will fool most of your pals.

If you’ve recently come from Windows 7 and find yourself missing the interface then there’s also the W7 Theme to transform Ubuntu’s interface into that of Microsoft’s latest offering.

It is worth mentioning that there’s a chance something might go wrong, and neither author takes responsibility for this. But you probably knew that, so tweak away Tweak Ubuntu the Easy Way Tweak Ubuntu the Easy Way Read More .

Resources

There’s a number of great resources for downloading Emerald (and other) themes, icons, wallpapers and dock skins, and you won’t have to spend a penny!

Gnome Look – An exhaustive collection of user-contributed themes for a huge variety of applications. Probably the best place to find that theme you’re after.

GNOME Art – The official repository for GNOME skins and customization. There’s a fair few themes and backgrounds, plus the chance to contribute and submit your own efforts. You can even add an awesome tool How To Customize Your Linux Desktop With GnomeART-NG How To Customize Your Linux Desktop With GnomeART-NG Read More that connects to the site and allows you to peruse from the comfort of your desktop.

ubuntu.hamdi.web.id – A nice blog with a decent collection of downloads for customizing your Linux install.

DevinantArt – You’ve probably heard of DeviantArt before and if you can get past the mounds of pretentious crap then there’s a wealth of skins and themes for pretty much any OS, window manager or application you happen to be using. Make sure you choose to view submissions from All Time when browsing for the best of the bunch.

Conclusion

There’s bound to be something here for everyone. I was going to mention Linux docks, but we’ve already got an excellent article all about them 8 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine 8 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine Read More . If you’re sick of GNOME and fancy giving KDE a try How To Switch Between GNOME & KDE 4.5 On Ubuntu 10.04 How To Switch Between GNOME & KDE 4.5 On Ubuntu 10.04 Read More (Kubuntu, essentially) then you can do that too. There’s also a few other desktop environments 8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux 8 Great Alternative Desktop Managers For Linux Read More you might want to take a look at if you’re really bored.

Have you got any other tips and tricks to a sexier Ubuntu desktop? Perhaps you’d like to share your desktop with the rest of us and let us know how you achieved it – post away in the comments!

  1. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 4:22 am

    I would not reccomend the XP one it's not so good up close.

  2. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 5:22 am

    I would not reccomend the XP one it's not so good up close

    ubuntuandstuff.blogspot.com

  3. Tim Brookes
    October 22, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    My bad, we'll have that fixed asap :)

    Thanks

  4. irock35
    October 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    it doesnt work with sudo apt-get ccsm it will say:
    E: Unable to locate package ccsm

    instead type this command:
    $sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

    it will work

  5. irock35
    October 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    it doesnt work with sudo apt-get ccsm it will say:
    E: Unable to locate package ccsm

    instead type this command:
    $sudo apt-get install compizconfig-settings-manager

    it will work

    • Tim Brookes
      October 22, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      My bad, we'll have that fixed asap :)

      Thanks

  6. K3 Visa
    October 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Very interesting post. I agree with you. I learn a lot of things from your this informative article. It will very helpful for a lot of people.

  7. Tim Brookes
    October 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    I've personally had a few issues myself with Screenlets, hence why I decided to leave them out. I noticed some would crash, and pop-up in random places on the desktop when my PC boots.

    As I said earlier in reply to Nifrpre some users simply take to a familiar interface and in my eyes if that gets someone hooked on Ubuntu then it's nothing but a good thing.

    I've taken your advice on board and shall probably do an article related to Screenlets soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

  8. Tim Brookes
    October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    I've personally had a few issues myself with Screenlets, hence why I decided to leave them out. I noticed some would crash, and pop-up in random places on the desktop when my PC boots.As I said earlier in reply to Nifrpre some users simply take to a familiar interface and in my eyes if that gets someone hooked on Ubuntu then it's nothing but a good thing.I've taken your advice on board and shall probably do an article related to Screenlets soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

  9. Azhar 'Ajay' Madia
    October 21, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    You should try Equinox Theme + Faenza icon in Ubuntu:
    http://gnome-look.org/content/...
    http://gnome-look.org/content/...

  10. Azhar 'Ajay' Madia
    October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm
  11. Tim Brookes
    October 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Why not if it's possible?

    Some users feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. If a total conversion (in terms of looks) helps a user "settle in" to their new OS then surely it's nothing but a good thing.

    There's payware out there like WindowBlinds for Windows which many use to achieve the look of another OS. We all know shareware sucks and as we're big fans of freebies here at MUO towers - I thought I'd pass it on.

  12. Deep S.
    October 21, 2010 at 10:18 am

    If you want a Mac look theres an updated transformation pack. Ive posted it here:
    http://www.allstuffweb.com/tip...

  13. Inkysplat
    October 21, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I'll be honest, I tend to find alot of these fancy bells-and-whistles to get in the way and hinder, while I'm working. It's okay I supose for those trying to impress friends, but general day-to-day use I tend to keep it simple with a window manager and a few old fashioned terminal windows.

    • Anonymous
      October 21, 2010 at 5:01 pm

      I totally agree with you. I only use one animation and that's minimize/restore which comes by default. The other Ubuntu animations by default are super fast and sane, but I still eliminate them I like it lean and simple.

  14. Deep S.
    October 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

    If you want a Mac look theres an updated transformation pack. Ive posted it here:
    http://www.allstuffweb.com/tips-tricks/make-ubuntu-look-like-mac-osx

  15. Imperia-m163
    October 21, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Well, there are different motives that explains why someone would have it's distro look like another OS.
    For example... many people comming from many years of MS windows use (abuse/misuse), feels more confartable approaching Linux with a GUI that ressamble it.
    About my self.... I use Ubuntu with Mac4Lin installed, why I do this?, simply because I like the look, the all design of a MAC GUI is nice to my eyes, lean and logical.

    BTW. MakeTeachEasier have the tutorials and update of Mac4Lin up to Ubuntu Lucid:
    http://maketecheasier.com/turn-ubuntu-lucid-mac-os-x/2010/06/01

    brgds
    Marco

    • Anonymous
      October 21, 2010 at 4:55 pm

      You should try elementary. It's similar to Mac but way more polished than the crappy Mac wannabes.

  16. Ubuntu
    October 21, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Have to admit, I'm disappointed as well. Started off well, but just floundered at the finish line. What's the point of creating a sexy Ubuntu guide when all you do is end with imitating the looks of another system?

    I'm supposing this article is geared towards relatively 'buntu Newbies, you could have showed Compiz settings, docks(I understand there was another article but still), screenlets, workspace tricks and tied it all together into a guide on how to make your Ubuntu look beautiful and completely different than what they've seen before....

  17. vs8
    October 21, 2010 at 3:50 am

    If you want the real Mac theme use Macbuntu instead of the old Mac4lin. I don't tweak Ubuntu's UI that much nowadays since the Light themes are so freaking beautiful. What I change is the icons (I use Faenza), install Docky (two docks one on the bottom, the other on the left, both autohide so my desktop looks very clean) and Nautilus Elementary .

    Here's a screen of my current setup (note I'm currently testing new applets and new Docky docklets, so that's not the setup I described above):

    http://imgur.com/CmlaP.png

  18. Anonymous
    October 21, 2010 at 1:50 am

    If you want the real Mac theme use Macbuntu instead of the old Mac4lin. I don't tweak Ubuntu's UI that much nowadays since the Light themes are so freaking beautiful. What I change is the icons (I use Faenza), install Docky (two docks one on the bottom, the other on the left, both autohide so my desktop looks very clean) and Nautilus Elementary .

    Here's a screen of my current setup (note I'm currently testing new applets and new Docky docklets, so that's not the setup I described above):

    http://imgur.com/CmlaP.png

    • Tim Brookes
      October 21, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      Looking good! I personally prefer Avant Window Navigator as my dock though, the intelligent hide feature is great.

      • Anonymous
        October 21, 2010 at 4:53 pm

        AWN has come a long way. I like where they are going, but Docky is so polished and works so fast on my system, I can't live without it. AWN feels sluggish on my system.

  19. Nifrpe
    October 21, 2010 at 12:56 am

    I don't see the point, didn't your machine come with windows or macintosh by default? why make it look like another OS?

    • Anonymous
      October 21, 2010 at 2:09 am

      I second that. Ubuntu has it's own personality and looks awesome. But I understand some people like to mimic other OSs. I know a guy who made Windows XP look like Mac... it was horrible!

    • Tim Brookes
      October 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm

      Why not if it's possible?

      Some users feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. If a total conversion (in terms of looks) helps a user "settle in" to their new OS then surely it's nothing but a good thing.

      There's payware out there like WindowBlinds for Windows which many use to achieve the look of another OS. We all know shareware sucks and as we're big fans of freebies here at MUO towers - I thought I'd pass it on.

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