ChaletOS 16 Review: The Best Operating System to Switch from Windows to Linux

Moe Long 27-01-2017

Switching from Windows to Linux presents a challenge. Linux offers increased flexibility, customization, and security. But there’s a higher learning curve. Knowing certain tips and tricks 5 Tips That Make Switching to Linux From Windows Easy There are many reasons to migrate from Windows to Linux. For instance, Linux might offer a lightweight environment. If you're tired of Windows and want a change, switching to Linux should be easy. Read More aids the transition. Still, a simple Linux distribution benefits new users the most.


Enter ChaletOS 16. This operating system simplifies the foray into Linux. ChaletOS 16.04.2 provides the look and feel of Windows 7 with the power of a Linux endoskeleton. Learn why this distro is the easiest way to switch from Windows to Linux in this ChaletOS 16 review!

ChaletOS Background

ChaletOS embarks on a continuing mission to ease the switch from Windows to Linux. While ChaletOS 16 derives from Xubuntu, the user interface (UI) departs drastically. ChaletOS appears deceptively like Windows 7 or even Windows XP. According to the website, priorities for this distro are simplicity, aesthetics, and familiarity. At these, ChaletOS succeeds.

What’s New in ChaletOS 16

Chalet0S 16 UI

In April 2016, ChaletOS 16.04.2 debuted. This Long Term Service (LTS) iteration features a new Software Center and kernel. As the 16.04 implies, it’s based on the Ubuntu 16.04 Xenial Xerus. So ChaletOS benefits from the LTS Linux 4.4 kernel. The lightweight Ubuntu derivative Xubuntu serves as the foundation for ChaletOS so system requirements are pretty forgiving.

ChaletOS Environment

ChaletOS16 System Resources


Upon first firing up ChaletOS, you’re greeted by a decidedly Windows appearance. While Linux distributions like Elementary OS Why I Switched From Windows 7 to Elementary OS Luna Bye bye, Windows. Hello, Linux! Here's what convinced me that eOS Luna is a better bet than Windows 7. Read More take after Windows, ChaletOS even has a start menu. Even its color scheme feels plucked from Microsoft. Yet despite similarities, ChaletOS 16 remains unique among Linux distros. It’s based on Xubutu and employs a version of Xfce. ChaletOS comes in two flavors: 32-bit and 64-bit. This should provide ample compatibility.

Furthermore, system requirements remain low. You can run ChaletOS 16 with a 1 GHz CPU, 768 MB of RAM (512 MB for the Live CD), and a mere 8 GB of hard drive space. Considering current hardware, that’s pretty minimal.

ChaletOS 16 Start Menu

ChaletOS 16 Start Menu

Similarities to Windows start with the, well, Start Menu. You’ll find the Start Menu in the bottom left corner of the screen. Windows 8 nixed this iconic feature. However, the 8.1 update brought it back. Opening up the Start Menu yields recognizable options. You’ll see links to Favorites, Search, Settings quick access, and a Recently Used tab. Navigation remains incredibly intuitive. Sure, a Start Menu is pretty simple. But when switching operating systems, small touches like a recognizable layout ease the transition.


Additionally, the Start Menu on ChaletOS 16 ensures you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. Many common initial setup options are readily available. For instance the Application Center, Settings, and File Manager. So the Start Menu serves multiple purposes, providing a familiar atmosphere and aiding navigation.

Windows 7-Esque

ChaletOS 16 features an array of Windows 7 attributes. Aside from the Start Menu, you’ll find desktop icons, a system tray, and widgets. These are not necessarily unique among Linux distros. Yet it’s rare to find a Linux distro configured with these out of the box. There’s even a Windows 7 Silver Classic style that applies system-wide.

The Windows vibe radiates even in the default color scheme. You’ll notice the blue taskbar replete with pinned programs. Upon first booting into ChaletOS 16, I felt as though I’d plunged into Windows XP. As I quite enjoyed Windows XP, this was a pleasant surprise. In the bottom right corner, there’s even that “minimize everything and display the desktop” icon. Even the battery icon models itself after Windows.

ChaletOS Settings and Tweaks

ChaletOS 16 Conky


Regardless of your opinion on Windows, it’s really simple to customize. So too is ChaletOS 16. Largely, this comes a la Conky and the impressive Settings array. With Conky you can add widgets such as a clock. These vary from clocks to CPU use widgets. They remind me of the “Gadgets” from Windows 7.

Playing with these showed just how low my resource consumption stayed with ChaletOS. CPU and RAM usage remained pleasingly light. So much so that I might swap out my Ubuntu 16.04 install for ChaletOS 16. Moreover, there’s a lot of choice amidst the ease of customization. Alongside Conky is the Style Changer. As its name implies, this is a simple yet gorgeous means of altering the ChaletOS appearance. There’s everything from Canonical layouts to a Windows 7 derivative, and even Facebook styling.

ChaletOS 16 Apps

ChaletOS 16 Apps

Yet again, pre-installed apps prove why ChaletOS 16 makes a viable Windows alternative. Notably, ChaletOS arrives out of the box with loads of programs. Moreover, these are likely apps you’ll use especially if coming from Windows. Wine is standard which allows you to run many Windows programs on Linux or macOS Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) With WINE Read More . Additionally, for gaming the Wine frontend PlayOnLinux PlayOnLinux Brings Windows Games & Programs To Linux Read More is a default app.


Common multimedia programs like VLC come installed as well. There’s also Firefox. Most likely if you’re switching from Windows, you’re used to straightforward program installation. Linux is a bit different. Although certain programs do feature a package installer How to Install Software on Linux: Package Formats Explained You've switched to Linux, and want to install some software. But package managers differ depending on your distro. So which apps can you download and install? It's all in the acronyms. Read More , some distros are more command line heavy. ChaletOS 16 does include the Ubuntu Software Center as well as the Gnome Software Center.

If you’re adding new programs, the simplest means is via the Software Center. This eschews the terminal which can be tricky for newcomers. But this is where ChaletOS shines: you retain full command line access for APT installs A Beginner's Guide to Installing Software in Ubuntu with APT If you've used Ubuntu you have probably used the apt command at some point. But did you know there's so much more to it than apt-get install and apt-get upgrade? Read More . Though you can use ChaletOS without delving into the terminal, you have the flexibility to utilize it completely.

Why ChaletOS Makes Switching From Windows Easy

What makes ChaletOS the quintessential Linux replacement for Windows is its intuitiveness and familiarity. Booting into ChaletOS 16 presents a recognizable facade. There’s the Start Menu, desktop icons, and taskbar. Navigating this Linux distro and tweaking settings relies on Windows-like menus. Conky and the Style Changer are similar to the Settings in Windows.

By including Wine and PlayOnLinux, ChaletOS is ready for Windows program installation. Therefore Windows users retain maximum compatibility. You can even get along fine sans-command line. But if you’re going to use a Linux distro, you absolutely should learn the command line.

Overall, ChaletOS 16 is simple for Linux first timers but intuitive to customize for Linux pros as well.

Final ChaletOS Review Thoughts

While evaluating ChaletOS 16, I kept forgetting that I was using a Linux distribution. Make no mistake, you won’t confuse ChaletOS with Windows 10. Rather, it’s a Windows 7 interface. I enjoyed the layout a lot. After suffering through the agony of Windows Vista, Windows 7 arrived as a savior.

It’s pleasant to revisit a Windows 7 or even XP environment through the ChaletOS 16 medium. While I’m familiar with the command line, it’s simple to install most programs with the Software Center. Possibly my favorite aspects are the inclusion of Wine, and the low resource consumption. Despite having a Windows machine as well, it’s great to switch seamlessly between devices and continue using Windows programs. This is even more necessary if you’re switching completely from Windows to Linux.

Ultimately, it’s the familiar landscape, simplicity, and default inclusions that hone ChaletOS 16 as the perfect Windows replacement. While Elementary OS remains a solid pick, something about the mirror image of Windows 7 just eases the transition. If you’re debating the jump to Linux, you’ve got plenty of reasons to switch. But you should probably know these seven differences Linux vs. Windows: 8 Key Operating System Differences, Explained Not sure whether to choose Linux or Windows? Here's how both operating systems differ, and why switching isn't as hard as you think. Read More first. ChaletOS 16 is just one more incentive to dive into Linux.

Have you tried ChaletOS 16? We’d like to hear what you think! Leave a comment below.

Related topics: Linux Distro, Windows.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Grant Byers
    March 22, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    Like the ease of navigation. Has all the features I need except WiFi is a nightmare. Have spent hours just trying to get it working. No success.

  2. Clodoaldo Santos
    June 29, 2017 at 12:36 am

    LinuxMint MATE is better

  3. LD
    April 27, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    This is a very nice Distro. only problem the project is so promising but it looks like no more in development.

  4. Bo Albrechtsen
    February 7, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    People who try using a dual installation of windows and a linux version soon find that they tend to use linux more and more. There are many good reasons for this. I have used ubuntu and various other linux deriviates for something like 8 years now after using windows for more than 10 years. For me some of the important points with linux are : Problem free and fast updating - allways. Very fast start up and shut down. Rock stable running. Free software that I can trust. No need to worry about virus / malware. .....and a lot more :)

  5. Carlos
    January 31, 2017 at 9:28 pm

    Why move to Linux? I don't see any reason.

    • Harry
      June 6, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Very secure, not a resource hog, stable, customisable, FREE. Etc.......

  6. Lou
    January 27, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    The biggest impediments to moving from Windows to Linux is software. How "Windowesque" the OS eye-candy may or may not be is, at best, a minor plus if people cannot run the applications they have always used. A "perfect" Windows OS replacement needs to include the ability to run Windows software.

    • Richard
      January 28, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      You should check out ReactOS then. They're working on a ground up approach to making an OS compatible with Windows software.

      • Lou
        January 29, 2017 at 5:44 am

        Thanks, I checked ReactOS out. Looks promising.

      • SamG
        February 6, 2017 at 2:57 pm

        ReactOS is Russian developed according to Distrowatch.

        • +Mr. Zellie
          February 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

          From what I hear some of the best open source software comes out of Russia... and my fears of Russian software spying on me 0.2%

    • jimvandamme
      January 30, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      Wine Version 2.0 just came out, with improved compatibility. I recently used Wine to run an old schematic drawing package, and it ran fine. I can dual boot Windows on all my machines, because I paid for them, right? But haven't in ..... a while. I get everything done in Linux. I even run old peripherals that Windows 7 didn't have drivers for. I even like the card games better.

  7. Richard
    January 27, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    This does look nice, but what are the benefits over something like Zorin? Zorin is not as lightweight, but it has many different looks, including XP, 7, macOS, GNOME, and defaults to a Windows 10 look. I'd love to see a comparison article between Zorin and Chalet!

    • Kai
      August 15, 2017 at 6:47 pm

      Hi Stephan,

      just give it a try and see for yourself. I wanted very much to love Zorin and use it as my next Desktop, due to many positive reviews and me coming from Windows XP/7 and from OSX.

      However, first the look and feel of Zorin did not realy blowed me away. In no way did it emulate th elook and feel of Mac (yes I have the paid Zorin version) or Windows, just some rearangement of the menus, icons, etc. not convincing to me in neither version. Also, the expirience of the default mouse and keyboard was a bit clumsy to me and I found several little problems in comon day tasks, having a lenovo t430 and being new to Zorin.

      Instead, when I installed ChaletOS, I was blown away because it looked so nice (some how like a little improved version of windows XP) and the mouse and keyboard behaviour was perfect out of the box. Everything just worked perfect out of the box, I encountered no single error, never the OS felt in the way. So it's perfect for day to day use.

    • Kai
      August 15, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Much better than Zorin: faster, needs much less resources, beautiful, rock solid, everything works perfect out of the box and looks nice. Try yourself.

      BTW: to me, Zorin does not really have the look and feel of Windows or OSX. It only arranges the position of icons, menus, windows, menus, dock (OSX) so that they resemble the arrangement in Windows and OSX, thats all. -compared with all the raving reviews, I found it very disappointing, while wanting to love it (well, the screen shots should have warned me)..