Linux desktop imitating OSX

By 26 de octubre de 2007 Geek Works, Linux One Comment

No he podido evitar hacer un copy&paste de este pedazo de post hiper currado.
Adjunto un pdf para quien lo quiera bajar con los comentarios.

linux-desktop-imitating-osx-lauri-taimila.pdf

Sáinte!

 

osx-logo.png

This is my second article about how to modify your Gnome Linux Desktop to look like OSX desktop. My first article is one year old and since that, there has been many changes in both, my knowledge and availability of the software and themes. This article is not written in such a detail than the first one. Remember that you can always take a look at the old article too. And I have also written Orange-look guide for Ubuntu which contains some good tips. This article answers better to question WHAT than HOW. What do I need if I want to imitate OSX? And not so much "how can I change my wallpaper" stuff.

Original design of the user interface that is
imitated here was created by Apple inc.


you can discuss about this article and OSX-modifying in general at Ubuntuforums in this thread. There is also a discusson thread in Finnish.I decided to write another guide, because my first guide became surprisingly popular. There are about 1000 unique visitors per day on my site and 26000 unique users per month. That is a lot more than I suspected and ever hoped. Thank you all!

Why I wrote this article?


Ok, there are almost always misunderstandings when people modify their OS to look some other OS. This is NOT about "I want a mac" or "I want OSX". If I would want a mac, I would go and buy one of those. No, this is simply about having fun by imitating and finding the limits of Gnome desktop. I often read that Gnome is considered very plain and not very configurable. I can't agree with that. Gnome is usable and simple, but yet very powerfull and it is possible to modify Gnome into anything you want. Now, I challenge KDE and OSX users to do the same. Can you make your KDE to look OSX as well as Gnome can imitate it? Or can you change your OSX to look Gnome, KDE or Windows? I doubt it, but I love to be proved wrong! ;)Just to be clear, I don't want that OSX-look would be the default look of the Gnome. Gnome is beautiful with Tango icons and it should continue to follow it's own clean and usable style. I'm glad I made that clear. :) Now, let's begin...

Desktop Effects


OSX has some nice desktop effects like expose and magic lamp. Those not only make your desktop look good, but also improve usability. Of course, not all effets are good for usability and that's why Linux gives you a choice of which effects to use. Recently Compiz and Beryl were merged back to one project that is called Compiz Fusion. Compiz Fusion is a program that creates those amazing effects.
effect_thumb.jpg
Screenshot illustrating "magic lamp" effect when window is minimized to the dock.

I won't discuss installing and configuring Compiz Fusion in this article for two reasons. First, there are dozens of HOWTO-guides, which tell you how to do that. Second, it depends a lot of which graphics card you have, which distro you use etc. So, I recommend that you take a look of OpenCompositing forums for more information.

Basic elements of the OSX desktop


OSX has a desktop with icons as almost all desktop environments has. What gives OSX it's unique look is a dock that works as application launcher and taskmanager at the same time. Another element is an application menubar that is located on the top of the screen. This bar displays current application's menu and some system tray icons, clock etc. This differs from all the other desktop environments as fas as I know.Emulating OSX Dock
dock.jpg
Screenshot of Avant-window-navigator emulating OSX-dock.
There are many open source projects that aims to offer OSX-dock style dock for Linux desktop. There are KXDocker, Avant-window-navigator, kiba-dock and Gnome-dock (which is actually a techology demo). My favourites are Neil J. Patel's Avant-window-navigator and Gnome-dock that was written by MacSlow. In the screenshot above you can see Avant-window-navigator that is my current choice. It can be easily modified to look like OSX-dock and it works as application laucher AND taskbar. There are also nice plugins for it that allows applications to change icon on dock. This allows Gaim to use status icons on bar and Rhythmbox to display alubm art as icon.
Screenshot of Avant-window-navigator emulating OSX-dock.
Emulating OSX menubar
OSX has only one menubar on the screen at the time. This menubar is displayed at the top of the screen with clock and system tray icons. Gnome doesn't have this kind of bar at default, but it is possible to make one. What you need is gnome-panel that is 24 pixels high. Use OSX-like background image for your panel. You can download it below. Just select the one that is correct to your resolution. If there is not version available for your resolution, it's not difficult to create one with GIMP.

Screenshot of Gnome-panel that is modified to look like OSX menubar

Now that we have a panel with nice and shiny look, it's time to add some gnome-applets to it. To imitate OSX I recommend you to use clock applet, notification-area applet, deskbar-applet, macmenu-applet and some menu-applet to add that apple logo. Deskbar is a user interface for Tracker and Beagle that you can use for desktop search. Macmenu-applet is the trickiest one here. Gnome doesn't support this kind of behaviour for default so you'll need to patch GTK-librarys with some code that AqD provided to the community. You can read more about macmenu-applet and patches at Ubuntuforums. System tray icons are based on the current icon theme. So the correct way to change them is to change the icon-theme.

There is deb-packages for Ubuntu Feisty users available at Ubuntuforums. Just see this post. There is a download link and installation instructions. These packages improve AqD's patches even more. For example, underscores '_' are removed from menuitems.

Boot screen


I couldn't find a decent OSX-look-a-like bootpslash theme for Linux. So again, I did it myself. This is the great thing with the Linux. You can always do things by your self if it's not provided already. I created an usplash theme that tries to imitate OSX boot screen. There is one difference though. In real OSX boot screen there is a nice round animation and in my theme there is a progress bar. Maybe in the future I'll learn how to make that animation to Linux boot screen. I think that it's possible to do it with usplash.I'm not a usplash theme guru yet, so this theme is not perfect. Especially it doesn't support widescreen resolutions. If you have 4:3 resolution monitor then everything is ok. If you have widescreen resolution then there will be black bars on both sides of the bootimage. If you know how to fix this, please contact me. Below is a screenshot of my current usplash theme, which you can download from here.

Screenshot of my usplash theme. This image is lacking the progress bar.

Wallpaper and desktop icons


Wallpaper isn't really a part of OSX, because everyone can change that. It still creates a nice illusion if you use the wallpaper that is used to see on other OS. That's why, if you want real OSX-look then you should also use OSX-wallpaper. Get the wallpaper from here.Well, I don't have much to say about desktop icons. There are only few and there is nothing special about them. Just create desktop icons as you have used to.

Screenshot of clean Gnome desktop that is modified to look like OSX.

Fonts


OSX uses Lucida Grande font. You can download this and other mac fonts from here. Below is a screenshot of my font settings. I also recommend you to add this fonts.conf file under your home directory. Rename file to .fonts.conf.It improves font rendering after X has been restarted.

font-550.jpg
My font settings on Gnome.

Login screen


Gnome uses GDM as a graphical login screen. There are many nice OSX-looking themes available, but none of them was good enough for me. So I took the best one and modified it a little bit. Only a little, but it's all about details. 😉 You can download GDM-theme from here. It's not perfect, but I really don't care. It's about 5 seconds on my screen and that's it. This theme is based on AppleLinux theme.
gdm-shot.png
Screenshot of GDM-theme.

System themes


I didn't find GTK-theme that would imitate OSX as well as GTK allows. That's why I decided to create my own theme that I based on Glossy P theme, which was a good starting point. I used some of the graphics directly from Glossy P and some I did by myself. It's not a prefect copy of OSX, because there are some limitations in GTK that I can't get around. You can download my GTK-theme from here.At the moment I use Beryl compositing and it's emerald window manager. There is a great OSX Tiger theme for emerald which you can download from here.

Application specific themes


Unfortunately, not all GTK-applications uses icon-theme icons. For example Gaim, Terminal Server Client and Liferea has their own icons, which cannot be affected by changing the global icon-theme. Also Firefox and Thunderbird has themes that are out of the scope of global Gnome themeing. I don't have time and energy to write guide to all of those programs, but you should read my two previous articles, which discuss this in more detail. Here I will just offer few links and that's it.

Icons


Icons are essetial part of the desktop design. OSX has nice glossy icons and Gnome has... well... gnome has icons. I'm glad to see that Gnome started to use Tango style icons which is a huge improvment, but those doesn't really fit to OSX look that we are trying to imitate here. I have created a nice and full covering icon-theme for Gnome that uses real OSX icons and other cool icons made by talented people. Only the problem is, that I don't have copyrights and I'm uncertain can I release them here without gettig problems to myself.I advice you to create your own theme by collecting OSX-style icons from the internet. There are plenty of icons available for example at DeviantArt.
icons.jpg

Polishing user interface


It's all about details. Espesially when you are trying to imitate something or someone. So here are some final tips that I recommend you to do. First remove that gnome-splash screen. There is no use for that and it's not very elegant. Below is a screenshot where "Show splash screen on login" is unchecked. Do the same. Notice that in latest Gnome this has to be done with gconf-editor since it's not an option in session window anymore.
sessions.jpg
Another thing that I did is that I removed icons from menus. This gives a cleaner look, but it also might make your desktop less usable. At least in Gimp those icons are very handy. Anyway, here is a screenshot of my menu & toolbar settings.
menuicons.jpg
All in all, keep things simple! Do not add dozens of icons to your desktop. :)

Gracias Andros

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