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Making Ubuntu Look Like Windows 7 473

Posted by timothy
from the ok-fine-click-on-the-blue-e dept.
DeviceGuru writes "Although it won't help Linux run Windows-specific software applications, this easy hack produces an Ubuntu desktop that looks and feels a lot like Windows 7. It's particularly suitable for reviving older PCs or laptops on which the main activities will be web-browsing, email, document writing, and streaming music and videos from from the web. The process installs a Windows 7-like GNOME theme on an otherwise standard Ubuntu 10.04 installation, although it might work on other Linux distros with GNOME and appropriate other packages installed. Naturally all this begs the question: why would anybody want to do this? Why indeed!" People have been doing this sort of look-and-feel swap-out for years; it seems best to me as a practical joke.
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Making Ubuntu Look Like Windows 7

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  • That is dumb... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:37PM (#33384676)

    I'm sure it's better to have something behaving differently actually look different.

  • because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by polle404 (727386) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:39PM (#33384718)
    it could be to ease the transition from windows to *nix for those that are unaccustomed to the rapid OS changes we /. users are.
  • Transitions (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sv_libertarian (1317837) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:40PM (#33384728) Journal
    One problem I've had with showing some people (especially older folks, or folks who are very set in their ways) a linux desktop is that they get bogged down fairly quick when they see something that doesn't look "right." Having a Windows-esque desktop could be helpful in transitioning people over.
  • by gauauu (649169) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#33384746)

    Unfortunately, if you look at the picture of the explorer windows (particularly, the "icon view" dropdown), it still has the ridiculous amount huge UI widgets and wasted space that the default gnome does. Why do they insist on wasting so much screen real estate? I never understood this.

  • "Why wouldn't I just use Windows 7 then?"

  • Obvious comment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:41PM (#33384756)
    I'd really rather have a Windows 7 theme that works like standard Gnome on Ubuntu 10.04, please. Cue (perhaps) irate responses, but I work with both and I prefer Gnome. Add a proper terminal and sudo rather than uac, and my life as a developer would be significantly easier. Oh, and a decent package manager. I have one on my phone, it shouldn't be too hard.
  • The best part is (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:43PM (#33384784)
    The window buttons are on the top right again. Yay!
  • by odin84gk (1162545) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:44PM (#33384804)

    The end user just needs to Feel comfortable. Once a user gets into a web browser, they don't really care about the OS. Something like this would be great for hotel lobbies (with free internet), libraries, and other public access sites.

    My wife (a linux hater) used it in a hotel lobby to print out some airline tickets. She had no idea it was Linux, but I noticed the differences. She had a great experience (managed to get her items printed out without an issue), and just assumed it was a windows machine.

    Her view of the hotel improved because of a simple amenity that helped her out. The hotel had a PC without a costly OS, saving them money. I can easily see the value in something like this.

  • by wfstanle (1188751) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:47PM (#33384848)

    I agree that the Windows 7 GUI is abysmal, but I have to use it.

    The alternate GUI for Linux is not for experienced Linux users but new converts from Windows might find it useful. Certainly it helps to lessen the learning curve. Once the newcomer becomes experienced with Linux he might learn that there are better GIUs out there.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:48PM (#33384868) Journal

    Actually, Wikipedia gave an example of improper use of begging the question:

    More recently, “to beg the question” has been used by some to mean the same as “to raise the question”: for example, “This year’s budget deficit is half a trillion dollars. This begs the question- how are we ever going to balance the budget?” Using the term in this way has been deemed to be incorrect by usage commentators.

    Proper use of begging the question:

    Begging or assuming the point at issue consists (to take the expression in its widest sense) [of] failing to demonstrate the required proposition.

    The article appears to be written from the assumption that I want to make Ubuntu look like Windows 7.

    Now, the obvious question is, why would I want to do that? TFA tries to answer that: I would want to, because, (according to TFA)

    It’s particularly suitable for reviving older PCs or laptops on which the main activities will be web-browsing, email, document writing, and streaming music and videos from from the web.

    That doesn’t explain why I’d want it to look like Windows 7, though – it explains why I would want to use Ubuntu, and (once again) assumes that I want it to look like Windows 7.

    Thus, it begs the question: Even supposing I wanted to use Ubuntu, why would I want it to look like Windows 7?

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:55PM (#33384968)
    A real CLI? One with regular expressions, proper tokenizing, proper program flow constructs, pipelines (backtics results too) and redirection, etc., etc.?
  • Re:because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rndmtim (664101) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:56PM (#33384982) Homepage
    Bingo. One word: Parents. Think it's ridiculous to take the worst computer users and give them Ubuntu? Consider a 75 year old dad who seems to want to click on every pr0n site or anything else that loads up windows with massive amounts of malware. I didn't make him root, didn't give him java, and I'm sure it's not airtight... but he hasn't been able to break it. It's about as fast as it ever was years later. But he complained in the difference that it looked different... so with this... why, he'd just never know.
  • by supersloshy (1273442) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @03:59PM (#33385026)

    Ubuntu is not Linux. Ubuntu is not GNOME. This is not Ubuntu specific and it should not be posted as such.

    Also, scripts like this have existed for months and even years. I remember a recent story about getting GNOME to look like Windows XP [omgubuntu.co.uk] as well. Exactly how is this news, and even if it is news, how is it Slashdot-worthy?

    It's particularly suitable for reviving older PCs or laptops on which the main activities will be web-browsing, email, document writing, and streaming music and videos from from the web.

    Exactly how is Windows more usable than GNOME? Yes, more people are used to Windows than GNOME and GNOME-based operating systems, but I find GNOME to be much, much, much more usable than Windows has ever been to me for various reasons. Also, how exactly do these activities benefit from a windows-like visual environment? They're just as easy to do in vanilla GNOME (if not easier) compared to Windows. As the great Wikipedia has often said, [citation needed], and I'm saying this to the original article, not the poster himself.

  • by zill (1690130) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:00PM (#33385052)
    Of course there are better alternatives, but I don't think any alternative is good enough to warrant an off-topic post attacking the so-called "grammar mistake".
  • That's appropriate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:00PM (#33385054) Homepage

    Because with lucid, Ubuntu's interface is already on the way to looking like Windows Vista.

  • by natehoy (1608657) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:01PM (#33385068) Journal

    Because if you want to ask someone to try out Linux, you are better off showing them something like what they are used to. And, increasingly, that's Windows Seven.

    Ubuntu (and its variant, Mint) were what got Linux in my household, and I suspect that is true of many people. Ubuntu made an experience that is similar enough to Windows XP that my wife could easily switch to it. It has a start-ish sort of button, a notification-ish sort of tray, a favorite-ish sort of quicklaunchy area, boxes that show what windows you have open that allow you to click on them to go to them, and even a clock in approximately the right place and (up until recently), an underscore, minimize/restore, and "Big X" in the right places. It made it a lot easier to transition my wife to Linux when I could just install Mint and have her do very basic operations pretty much the same way she used to in XP. Later, I showed her the package manager so she could "add/remove programs", etc.

    The layout, while by no means identical to Windows XP, is similar enough that people won't have their brains go boom. Try them out in KDE, IceWM, or XFCE, and their brains asplode. And I don't blame them. You can also easily configure Gnome to be all but unrecognizable to a Windows XP user, and for advanced users who want things to work a certain way, that's marvelous. But for someone who has used Windows for years, it's good to minimize the changes they'll need to go through to accept Linux as a substitute.

    When I show Mint to people running Windows Seven, especially those for whom Seven is most of their Windows exposure, they get confused. Probably about as confused as I get trying to figure out how to help people do things in Windows Seven, since I use Windows XP when I use Windows. It takes me a bit longer to do things in Seven. Not that Seven is bad, it's just not what I use daily, and I'm not used to it.

    I, for one, welcome a "Windows Seven"-ish variant of Ubuntu. Ubuntu is "training wheels for Linux", even though it's still a serious and solid distro that is well-supported. It's arguably the one that most people will tend to recommend to a newbie at the moment. If there's an easy way to make it look like what your newbie has already used, I'm all for it.

  • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:04PM (#33385126)

    That seems pretty contradictory to me. If someone raises a question, they are inviting you to think about the possible answers. If someone begs the question, they are trying to get you to assume the answer that supports your argument. It might be possible to raise the question and then assume the answer, but to me those are two separate actions not something you can do in a single statement.

  • by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:05PM (#33385134)
    Roughly 2% of computer users might agree with you. The others don't.
    OK, I just threw in some numbers, but the reality remains: a much larger percentage of people prefer Windows-like Desktop Manager looks over the (wide area of) available Linux Desktop manager(s).
    Question is: Why?
    If you simply go ahead and say "Because they don't know any better" - then you already lost the war with Windows. For years and years, the Linux community members have assumed that Average Joes are simply mis- and uninformed about the alternative. Not once did they take into consideration that maybe, and I say maybe Windows Desktop manager simply looks better. More polish, better paint, nicer fonts (oh yes, that again!), ease of use, perhaps a mix of all the above, can't really say. But it works. It's something that people got accustomed to, and if you want them to switch, then you need to offer them similar appearance , at least.
    Out of all this pile of computer users, a very low percentage are technical enough or interested enough to care about the Linux Window Manager's superiority. Roughly, they don't give a rat's ass on that. They don't want more efficient guts, they want the pretty. And Linux window managers rarely provide "the pretty" - they provide the "not unbearably ugly" interface instead.
    Tell you what. Get a few screenshots of default desktops that appear right after an OS finishes installing. Say, for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Ubuntu, RHEL, Slackware, Debian, MacOS X, Solaris, etc., etc. and make a webpage where people can sort them in order (drag and drop would rule!) from most attractive to least attractive. Ithink we all expect no surprises in what would be on top of the preferences.
    Now getting back to your comment, you mentioned usability, speed and features. They are important. To you and a very small community (weighted in size against the mass of regular users). They don't matter AT ALL to anyone else. What matters to them is design. That's exactly why Apple products sell like... well, Apple products :)
    I'd say a Windows 7-like interface will only bring advantages to Linux. Maybe convince some undecided people to switch? Maybe convince me to use my now retired secondary desktop for basic tasks (browsing, music, movies) and give my gaming rig a rest every now and then?
  • by perpenso (1613749) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:06PM (#33385164)

    One problem I've had with showing some people (especially older folks, or folks who are very set in their ways) a linux desktop is that they get bogged down fairly quick when they see something that doesn't look "right." Having a Windows-esque desktop could be helpful in transitioning people over.

    I'm not sure. Once they get past the initial superficial impression of "looking right" they may quickly fall into this "acts wrong". Acting wrong is probably a greater negative than looking wrong. Especially since the words "right" and "wrong" are being overloaded here. Looking wrong is more synonymous with looking different but acting wrong is more synonymous with being defective.

    There is also a "false advertising" aspect, the look gave the expectation of certain behavior. With a different look the different behavior is far more acceptable.

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:08PM (#33385200)

    Because a user who has used Windows all their professional life won't whine as much if they know where crap is to click on.

  • Ugh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:09PM (#33385206) Homepage

    After reading Slashdot for a decade I've finally got Linux on my home desktop and I'm very happy with it, I have it playing my movies and songs, interfacing with my iPhone, and playing World of Warcraft under Wine and connecting to Ventrilo with Mangler. I just installed a native version of Google Chrome a couple of days ago! None of this requiring text editing, and I got a default desktop that looks very pretty with the nVidia proprietary drivers. I'm running legal when there was no way I was going to pay for a Windows retail package.

    So.. 2010 is my year of the Linux desktop, and someone is saying "hey here's how to hose your system so that it looks like Microsoft fucked a penguin". I'll pass on that one..

    On the other hand, if anyone wants to point me to how to move the minimize/maximize/close buttons to the top right hand side of windows I'd appreciate it

  • Re:because... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:10PM (#33385220)

    Office drones is another word.

    Its easier to train someone with "it's right there, just like Windows", rather than "well on Windows it was there, but now it's going to be up here and behind this there and see, click."

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:10PM (#33385232)

    Or, like how Apple made such an effort to have Mac OS X look and feel like Windows, they hyped that as a sell-point in their switch campaign... or not.

    I know you'll just make some remark about how snobby Apple users are, but honestly I think that attempting to emulate the user experience of another product beyond instances where form follows function is just asinine. It lulls people into a false sense of security, and then when things don't work the way they expect, then all of a sudden its "X's fault that it doesn't do Y like Z," rather than "X isn't Z, so Y probably works differently."

    It's not about being a snob. It's about acknowledging reality. But then again, I don't really have any political Free Software motivations and don't give a crap if people use Linux or not. I barely use Linux, but when I do, I'm not going to spend my time trying to make it look like Windows. Why bother?

  • Windows 7? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rgo (986711) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:11PM (#33385242)
    Looking at the screenshots, it seems they made Gnome look like KDE 4!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:15PM (#33385304)

    Ubuntu.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @04:23PM (#33385432) Journal

    The fact that this argument keeps coming up is proof that it's not an acceptable usage now. I sure as hell don't accept it. The phrase "begs the question" is more useful as a logical fallacy than it is as a synonym for "raises the question". That's the only argument that matters.

    Did you even read the pages you linked to? I'll quote (emphasis mine):

    More recently, "to beg the question" has been used by some to mean the same as "to raise the question": for example, "This year's budget deficit is half a trillion dollars. This begs the question- how are we ever going to balance the budget?" Using the term in this way has been deemed to be incorrect by usage commentators

    2. to invite the (following) question. (This reinterpretation of beg the question is incorrect but is currently in widespread use.)

    The sense "raise or prompt a question" came about by misunderstanding of the meaning of the expression, possibly by confusion with beg to differ, and is proscribed (denounced) by some usage guides.

    In any case, whether the improper use of the phrase is more common than the proper use of the phrase is irrelevant. That just means ignorance is widespread.

  • Re:Transitions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:05PM (#33386038) Homepage Journal

    For most people a computer consists of a browser and possibly an email client

    And if the browser's icon doesn't look like a blue e (or like whatever other non-free browser the user is used to, such as Safari or the full version of Chrome), the user might get confused.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:20PM (#33386246) Journal

    Roughly 2% of computer users might agree with you. The others don't.
    OK, I just threw in some numbers, but the reality remains: a much larger percentage of people prefer Windows-like Desktop Manager looks over the (wide area of) available Linux Desktop manager(s).

    Popularity has nothing to do with quality. For instance, McDonalds, Taylor Swift, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

    If you simply go ahead and say "Because they don't know any better" - then you already lost the war with Windows.

    There is no war with Windows. The only goal is to make the best operating system possible.

    Not once did they take into consideration that maybe, and I say maybe Windows Desktop manager simply looks better. More polish, better paint, nicer fonts (oh yes, that again!), ease of use, perhaps a mix of all the above, can't really say.

    Sure they did. Which is why they created Compiz. It's also why every window manager or desktop environment out there has extensive theming abilities. Compare W7 to something like this [flickr.com], Enlightenment wins hands down.

    Out of all this pile of computer users, a very low percentage are technical enough or interested enough to care about the Linux Window Manager's superiority. Roughly, they don't give a rat's ass on that.

    There's a phrase for this, "casting pearls before swine".

    And Linux window managers rarely provide "the pretty" - they provide the "not unbearably ugly" interface instead.

    That's simply not the case. I've had numerous comments, from artsy female types even, about how nice my Cthulhain themed Fluxbox desktop looks. Now they'd never be able to use it, but it's certainly not ugly.

    Tell you what. Get a few screenshots of default desktops that appear right after an OS finishes installing. Say, for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Ubuntu, RHEL, Slackware, Debian, MacOS X, Solaris, etc., etc

    Sure, if you compare mostly server distros to desktop windows you'll see the trend you expect. Throw in stuff like Mint, or Ubuntu Studio, and you'll see different results.

    I'd say a Windows 7-like interface will only bring advantages to Linux. Maybe convince some undecided people to switch? Maybe convince me to use my now retired secondary desktop for basic tasks (browsing, music, movies) and give my gaming rig a rest every now and then?

    If it looks like Windows but can't run Windows apps, it's just a crappy crippled version of Windows. If it looks different from Windows, then people start getting interested. Showing off the advanced theming and other window manager functions (virtual desktops) is a great way of getting people interested in trying something different.

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:25PM (#33386320)

    I realize that it's fashionable to hate Microsoft...

    But, they do spend a lot of time and money on usability testing.

    Yes, it's not perfect, but it's not just a bunch of morons throwing crap on the screen either.

    I remember seeing the presentation they posted on the development of the ribbon. Seems like smart people doing reasonable things.

  • by Draek (916851) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:28PM (#33386376)

    Yeah, copying Windows is such a wonderful idea. If you work really really hard at it you'll get... a "Windows clone". Yeah, not exactly earth-shattering. But what you'll most likely end up with instead is a "half-assed Windows clone", which is as bad as it sounds.

    And worrying about home users is an utter waste of time if you care about adoption rates, as Apple has shown for the past two decades. Face it, 'shiny' may attract you and a very small community, but what most people care about is being able to reliably run the apps they need for their day-to-day activities, and a shiny new UI won't do a thing for that.

  • by The_mad_linguist (1019680) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:47PM (#33386598)

    But caring extends on an infinite continuum in both directions, and it takes effort to increase the absolute value of your caring. You have to expend effort to not care to an extreme degree.

    So if you're apathetic about something, you could still care less about it.

  • by forkazoo (138186) <wrosecrans@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday August 26, 2010 @05:57PM (#33386728) Homepage

    It's something that people got accustomed to, and if you want them to switch, then you need to offer them similar appearance , at least.
    Out of all this pile of computer users, a very low percentage are technical enough or interested enough to care about the Linux Window Manager's superiority. Roughly, they don't give a rat's ass on that. They don't want more efficient guts, they want the pretty. And Linux window managers rarely provide "the pretty" - they provide the "not unbearably ugly" interface instead.

    I've never understood why there is so much focus on getting Windows users to comfortably switch. I see no inherent value in making an OS that makes Windows users feel at home because there is already an OS that does that. It's called Windows. If Windows users really want something that they find extremely familiar, they can buy another copy of Windows. Frankly, I think that the basic assumption that attracting Windows users is inherently valuable has been harmful to the Linux community because it basically implies an effort to spend time and effort creating something worse that would be created if most people just said "F- Windows. Let's just create something awesome without regard for familiarity for users of some other software in some other conceptual ecosystem." Obviously, if whoever made the Win7 theme in the article thinks it's cool, then more power to him. The Open Source Way is alla bout people doing stuff they find interesting. OTOH, I think that the KDE project with their "parts" and whatnot have been trying to invent some reallyc ool stuff that I personally find much more interesting.

  • by war4peace (1628283) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @06:51PM (#33387328)

    Popularity has nothing to do with quality. For instance, McDonalds, Taylor Swift, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

    Um, I have no idea who Taylor Swift is, and I heard of Jay leno. Never watched his shows.
    You seem to make a confusion between what's popular in the US and what's globally popular. But I got your idea. However, again you seem to misunderstand the difference between quality that makes you think and quality that makes life easy.
    Either you are in the business to make tools for smart, tech-savvy people (see Linux) or you are in the business for the general population (See Microsoft). Depends how do you want to measure success, I guess.

    Compare W7 to something like this [flickr.com], Enlightenment wins hands down.

    That thing is ugly as hell.
    1. Fonts are ugly.
    2. Windows title bar text is almost unreadable.
    3. Top-left window: has 2 panes instead of tabs.
    4. Middle Window: why on Earth would you care what the HDDs full names are? Why would you put the Temp folder as Favorite?
    5. All windows: the menu button and the close/maximize/minimze buttons are reversed, compared to Windows. This is a major issue for a Windows user who is interested in switching.
    6. The gizmo on the lower right side looks like a patch of some sort and the text on it is barely readable.
    7. I don't care about desktops depictions/thumbnails on the left, I only care where my open programs are. A list of open programs (similar to Windows Taskbar) is a lot more helpful then going through 6 desktops in my quest for the "You-Name-It" program that I remember to have had open somewhere.

    All of these in just one screenshot. And I looked at it for like 2 minutes.

    Tell you what. Get a few screenshots of default desktops that appear right after an OS finishes installing. Say, for Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000, Ubuntu, RHEL, Slackware, Debian, MacOS X, Solaris, etc., etc

    Sure, if you compare mostly server distros to desktop windows you'll see the trend you expect. Throw in stuff like Mint, or Ubuntu Studio, and you'll see different results.

    You pick anything you'd like, man, I just threw some random examples. :)

    If it looks like Windows but can't run Windows apps, it's just a crappy crippled version of Windows. If it looks different from Windows, then people start getting interested. Showing off the advanced theming and other window manager functions (virtual desktops) is a great way of getting people interested in trying something different.

    I bloody hate Virtual Desktops. Why do they even exist? I'm serious... I don't get it. What's their advantage?

  • by aoteoroa (596031) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @06:59PM (#33387412)

    Which begs the question...what is an "improper" use? Does it cease to be "improper" once it has become ubiquitous?

    It probably depends on the audience. I appreciate good grammar when I hear or read it, and expect it from journalists and formal writers. There are definitely people who will judge you as an uneducated hick for using too much slang but sometimes in casual conversation using proper grammar just makes a person sound like a pompous ass.

  • by MpVpRb (1423381) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @08:57PM (#33388284)

    >Really? You can't tell from the end result.

    Yes I can. To me, many of Microsoft's UI choices seem right. Not all, but many.

    I am not a fanboy. I hate many of Microsoft's policies. In particular, restricting kernel mode driver development royally pissed me off.

    >At least Apple seems to aspire to making good technology (for someone at least).

    Apple is far more totalitarian and less tolerant of freedom. Given the choice, I would pick Microsoft any time.

    Of course, I still dream of a good software company that doesn't suck at all...

  • by stormguard2099 (1177733) on Thursday August 26, 2010 @09:07PM (#33388354)

    So by your logic I should refer to my monitor as my computer? I mean if widespread usage dictates meaning then that would in fact be acceptable, perhaps even the standard usage

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