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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eye Candy: Make your Ubuntu 11.04 Desktop look like Mac OS X with Mac4Lin and AWN

I had written post earlier about how you can transform your Ubuntu Desktop into looking like Mac OS X, it become instant hit and to this day I get number of people looking for information about transforming their Ubuntu desktop to look like Mac OS X, and hence I decided to write an updated tutorial. Macbuntu is one alternative, though at the time of writing this post I could not find Macbuntu version for Ubuntu 11.04 and forcefully installing Macbuntu have lead to stability issues and hence I would avoid this approach.

The desktop should somewhat resemble interface of MacOS X, after following the below mentioned steps.

I would be assuming that you are using Ubuntu Classic here and not Unity, I have found Unity to be extremely irritating to work with and I dislike it very much. You can switch to Ubuntu classic by changing to Ubuntu Classic in GDM screen.

Mac4Lin is made by GTK Developer Anirudh Acharya, with the aim of bringing Aqua user interface to POSIX based platform, in simpler words, to operating system the likes of GNU/Linux and hence distributions like Ubuntu.

We would first need to download Mac4Lin theme package and install it onto the system, you can do so easily by issuing the following commands in terminal ( Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal ) window :

or alternatively you could look into the source forge page and download the latest archive from multitude of mirrors. Source forge download page of Mac4Lin -

Once you have downloaded the archive, you need to extract it, you would need to have unzip installed on your system to do so, if you do not have unzip installed you can do so by issuing the following command in terminal window :

sudo apt-get install unzip
However, if you decide to extract this using terminal you can do so easily by issuing the following command :
mkdir $HOME/mac4lin
unzip -d $HOME/mac4lin
This should extract the archive into mac4lin directory, you would need to execute shell script to install Mac4Lin theme, chdir into mac4lin directory and then chdir into Mac4Lin_Install_v1.0 directory, once you are in the directory, issue the following command to execute the shell script and begin installation :
This should begin the installation procedure, it would ask few questions, you should answer them, and for installing it might need root permission as well and hence would need sudo password,if you follow the instruction carefully Mac4Lin should be installed in Jiffy.

Different installation screens of Mac4Lin

Now you need to install Avant Window Navigator, if you haven't installed it already, there are many docks for GNU/Linux, I have found AWN to be extremely stable and good looking and hence I would be using this in this post, additionally, it integrates with Mac4Lin well.

You can install AWN by issuing the following command in Terminal Window :
sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator
If the above step completed successfully, you are done transforming your Ubuntu 11.04 based system to a Pseudo MacOS X kind of look. I would recommend after installing AWN and Mac4Lin you restart your system, or at the very least restart X server.

You need to select the newly installed theme, you can do so from System -> Preferences -> Appearance , you should find Mac4Lin Graphite and Mac4Lin Aqua there, based on your personal preference and likes you can chose either one of them, I prefer Mac4Lin Aqua :)

AWN does not load by default and needs to be started from ( Applications -> Accessories -> Avant Window Navigator ), I would advise that you get rid of panel at the bottom (if you are using Ubuntu classic i.e ) by right clicking on the panel and choosing to get rid of panel.

The leftmost icon in AWN is for settings, you can select different icon size, further there are different themes, graphical applets, graphical customization that you can select and tweak AWN accordingly.

Different settings of Avant Window Navigator

Screen shot of My Desktop with Mac4Lin and AWN

Article Written by : Ambuj Varshney (
For Linux on Desktop Blog ,
(C) 2011 , Ambuj Varshney