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How To Make Lubuntu Look Like Windows XP

Chris Hoffman 12-07-2014

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A Windows XP theme for Lubuntu may be the ideal way to ease a Windows XP user into Linux. If they primarily use a browser like Firefox or Google Chrome on Windows XP, they may not even notice much of a difference! Firefox comes with Lubuntu, and Chrome can easily be installed on it.

Download and Install the Theme

First you’ll need to download and install Lubuntu on a computer. If you just want to try this theme out, you can always just boot to the Lubuntu live system and try the theme there, or install Lubuntu in a virtual machine What Is a Virtual Machine? Everything You Need to Know Virtual machines allow you to run other operating systems on your current computer. Here's what you should know about them. Read More to test it out. We performed this process on Lubuntu 14.04.

Next, head to the Lubuntu XP three flavors theme download page. Click the download button and download the zip file to your Lubuntu system.

Click the File Manager icon on the taskbar and double-click the Downloads folder to locate your downloaded zip file. Right-click the zip file and select “Extract Here” to get the files.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (1)


The xp2start.png and xpstart.png files are Start button images, while the xpbg.jpg file is the standard Windows XP background wallpaper. These images can go anywhere you want. For example, you might want to place them into your Pictures folder. You can do this just like you can on Windows — select the three image files, right-click them, select Cut, click “Home Folder” in the sidebar, double-click the Pictures folder, right-click inside it, and select Paste.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (2)

Go back to your Downloads folder. You’ll now just have three theme folders — XP Blue, XP Olive, and XP Silver. Select them, right-click them, and select Cut.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (3)


Click “Home Folder” in the sidebar, right-click inside your home folder, and select “Show Hidden”. You’ll now see hidden files and folders, which start with a period.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (4)

If you see a .themes folder, double-click it. If you don’t see a .themes folder, right-click inside the main pane, click Create New > Folder, and name it .themes. Double-click the .themes folder, right-click inside it, and paste the three theme folders into it.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (5)


Be sure to right-click inside the main pane and uncheck “Show Hidden” afterwards. Users don’t normally need to see these files, and the hidden files could confuse someone who just switched from Windows XP!

Enable the Theme

The theme is now installed, but not yet enabled. Click the Lubuntu menu button on the bottom panel, point to Preferences, and select Customize Look and Feel. You’ll see the three Windows XP widget themes at the bottom of this panel — click them to preview how they’ll look and select your preferred one.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (6)

Click over to the Window Border tab, select the matching window border for your Windows XP theme, and click Apply.


windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (7)

Next, set the desktop background. Right-click Lubuntu’s desktop background and select Desktop Preferences. Click the Wallpaper button and browse to the xpbg.jpg file we extracted earlier — it’s in your Pictures folder unless you put it somewhere else.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (8)

Now you just have to swap Ubuntu’s default menu button image for an XP-style Start button image. Right-click the Lubuntu menu button on the bottom panel and select Menu Settings. Click the Browse button, browse to the image files you extracted earlier, and select the xpstart.png or xp2start.png images. The xpstart.png is more classic, while the xp2start.png file is a bit more glossy. Feel free to try each and choose your preferred one.

These buttons do have a penguin on them — the goal is to make Lubuntu look familiar, not to make it completely indistinguishable from Windows XP!

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (9)

Your Lubuntu system will now look a lot like Windows XP. You can customize the bottom panel by right-clicking it and adjusting items. You can also click the menu button — now the Start button — and use the settings there to adjust the way the desktop looks and behaves in many other ways.

windows xp theme for lubuntu linux (10)

Each user on the Lubuntu system has their own theme and desktop settings. If you want to set up multiple user accounts on the computer, you’ll need to adjust the theme for each of them.

Will An XP Theme Work For Your Friends?

Consider the friends of yours who use Windows XP and answer the following question. Would using an XP-like theme on Lubuntu help them to move to Linux?

Image Credit: jacinta lluch valero on Flickr

Related topics: Lubuntu, Windows XP.

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  1. paul2520
    October 7, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    What does the Terminal look like with this theme? Does it look like the Windows Command Prompt? Would you mind posting a screenshot?

  2. mj
    July 18, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I have a 8.1 computer and a XP computer and I am just fine. tried Ubuntu don't like but I do use it live from time to time. When Linux get better, I will use it.

    • Bob
      July 22, 2014 at 7:07 am

      Try Linux Mint DE (Debian Edition) with MATE desktop environment. It supports rolling updates, which neither Windows or most other Linux distros don't. Plus if you have an Intel Series M processor, it doesn't support PAE - Linux Mint DE supports non-PAE H/W. With DOSBox, DOS Emulator and WINE, you can port a lot of DOS/Windows apps that won't run on Windows 8 (nor Windows 7).

    • Cool Kid
      December 26, 2017 at 1:23 am

      Good point,plus i installed windows icons and start menu and windows xp theme.It worked fine with the theme.Ironicly,just aftermi installed the icons,all the icons dissapeared before even setting it to the icon theme i I rebboted and got stuck in a boot loop,and never used ubuntu again.In conclusion,windows is fine,even without the best security.Just install an antivirus,then its secure enough.

  3. Scott
    July 16, 2014 at 4:00 am

    I would like to re-partition my IDE hard drive (Win XP) and add a Linux OS to the new partition so I could have dual boot. I used Wubi once to create a dual-boot, but it was only for Ubuntu 12.04.4 LTS and I could not get that distro to work with my wifi, no matter what I did.

    How much space should I allow for Windows XP 32-bit? I am thinking 8 to 10 GB for the Linux Distro. Also, when I downsize the partition containing XP, will that affect the XP files? Thanks for the help.....

  4. Grcoeeg
    July 15, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Zorin 8 core or Zorin lite are fantastic Windows crossovers to Linux/Ubuntu. I started with Zorin 6.4 on one laptop as a duel boot with Windows 7. Now I have moved on to the newer updated Zorin 8 with dual boot. People wanting the comfort of something that looks familiar yet works much better, go to and check it out. You will like what you see.

  5. Marcus M
    July 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

    Ah nostalgia... kind of useless but fun :)

  6. Richard Ott
    July 15, 2014 at 2:17 am

    Ubuntu will make your computer video lock up - leaving you with worthless computer!

  7. Justin P
    July 14, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Great article, and I hope it's helpful to someone, but I find this to generally be a bad idea. Making something look like a familar operating system causes them to expect it to behave the same, which makes things even more confusing when that doesn't happen. It's better, in my experience, for it to look different and for users to understand that it is different – then they take the time to learn.

  8. David McCarthy
    July 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    I'm with Donna.
    Some of the software we're using on XP machines isn't available for Win7/8 or Linux.
    Other software works just fine, thank you, including Office 2002 (XP). Why should we pay Microsoft huge sums just because they don't 'do' backwards compatibility?
    On top of that, there are still a couple of functions I can't find in Office 2010 (on Win7) which used to be easily accessed through the Office drop down menu system.
    Over the years we've had more trouble (hours lost) through Microsoft updates than Malware!

    • booger
      July 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

      Microsoft "is" malware.

  9. Donna
    July 14, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    My problem is legacy specialty software that is bought and paid for and working just fine on XP, thank you very much, but will NOT play with any of the newer OS - and I can't afford to pay for upgrades.

  10. Scott
    July 14, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Thanks for the article....the problem is not the lack of alternatives to XP, it's finding one that works with my Netgear wifi dongle....I've spent hours and hours trying different versions of Linux/Ubuntu and cannot seem to find any that will allow me to get in the internet. I do NOT understand the command-line process, even after hours of research, so I gave up. There has got to be an easier way to make the transition, for those who are not tekkies.

    • Brian
      July 14, 2014 at 10:50 pm

      This is list of many of the WiFi dongles that are compatible with Linux.
      If you haven't tried Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon then I'd recommend it for you to try.
      The community will help you with your problem.
      Just post a question on
      Ask what dongles other people are using and buy one of those.
      WiFi dongles are quite cheap.

    • Ed
      July 14, 2014 at 11:15 pm

      Did you try PC Linux OS?
      It seems to have some very good driver support and may work with your wifi dongle.

  11. Joan A
    July 14, 2014 at 5:50 am

    What's up with making stuff look like XP?

    • Let XP Be Dead
      July 15, 2014 at 3:46 am

      I wonder that myself. You can make newer versions of Windows look like XP and you can make most versions of Linux look more like XP...but why would you want to? Also in the above pics the only thing that looks even remotely like Windows XP is the shade of blue it the titlebar and taskbar. Otherwise than that there is no similarity. Let XP be dead, it had a good long run.

    • Lol
      December 22, 2017 at 1:45 am

      People love XP these days.

      • Joan
        December 22, 2017 at 5:29 am

        Do you mean that response as in 2017 or in the context of three years ago?

  12. A41202813GMAIL
    July 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Thank You, But No, Thank You.

    ( Five Years And Counting )


  13. bben
    July 13, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I have been migrating as many of my XP using friends and relatives to Linux as I can get to accept the change. Mainly by telling them it's no longer supported and I won't be able to fix it any more when they break it. Mostly using Ubuntu. So far the only problem has been wifi on older laptops that don't have built in wifi and use a card or dongle - it's pretty much a crap shoot whether it will work or not.
    Otherwise most of them can't tell the difference as all they use the computer for is facebook & email.

  14. shawn
    July 12, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Tell that to Grandma!
    Sometimes it makes sense to have something familiar.
    If I wanted her to move on, I would make it look like XP and gradually change things to resemble Win 7.

  15. XPdead
    July 12, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Its time to move on. XP is the past.

  16. Ed
    July 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    5 days ago "How to Make Win 7 Look Like XP".
    Now this.

    I thought people were being encouraged to move on past XP. MakeUseOf is having a problem letting go :)

    He says to blind date, "My ex-girlfriend who just dumped me has red hair. Would you mind dyeing your hair red for me?"

    It's OK guys. Let it go. Let XP rest in piece already :)

    How about making Lubuntu look like Windows 7 so we'll be caught up to 2009 instead of 2001 for XP or 1995 for Lubuntu :)

    • sfw1960
      July 15, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Well then!!! LOL
      Can it nuke itself as well as Win8 can???