Do you want to make Ubuntu look like Mac OS X? If so, we’re going to show you how to do it, step-by-step.
2018-11-02 My recent experience installing ubuntu 18.04 on same MacBook Pro mid 2009 ( MBP 5.5 ) that had ubuntu 14.04 and for THOSE WHO HAPPENS TO HAVE A BEAUTIFULL USELESS, WOTHLESS MacBook Pro that sits around doing nothing because Mountain Lion is overpass not suppoorted and dead! My recipe is if you DO NOT GIVE UP AND ARE VERY PERSISTENT.
The whole point of using Linux is that you can do things like this
- Download Ubuntu desktop, Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu for Raspberry Pi and IoT devices, Ubuntu Core and all the Ubuntu flavours. Ubuntu is an open-source software platform that runs everywhere from the PC to the server and the cloud.
- Installing Ubuntu on my 2009 MacBook Pro. I had an old 17-inch MacBook Pro from 2009 (college) lying around and I figured it'd be a fun challenge to install Linux on it. I had never installed or even used Linux before (to my knowledge).
- What worked with my late-2008 Macbook Pro and Ubuntu Mate: Use Ethernet cable; Confirm hardware: lspci -vvnn grep -A 9 Network- Broadcom 4322 chipset; Install proprietary driver instead of b43; For some reason, Ubuntu's 'Additional Driver' showed 0 option to update from that menu.
- These won't even run the latest version of Mac OS X, let alone macOS. But they will run an up-to-date version of Ubuntu Linux without breaking a sweat. Linux is loved by developers, and for good.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a bad case of Apple envy, or you simply appreciate the design aesthetic of Apple’s OS; there’s nothing wrong with aping the appearance of a rival operating system.
After all, the whole point of using Linux is that you are free to do things like this — and hey: you certainly can’t make macOS look like Ubuntu!
How To Make Ubuntu Look like a Mac
A stack of mac GTK themes, icon sets, fonts and cursors are available for Linux, just a quick Google away.
The ones included below are the ones we use/think give you the best Mac-like look on your Linux box, But don’t be afraid to explore DeviantArt, GitHub and other avenues if our choices don’t quite match with your tastes.
1. Pick the Right Desktop Environment
To achieve the most Mac-like look on Linux you need to use the most appropriate desktop environment and that is GNOME Shell.
This is not a slight against other desktop environments (DEs) as Unity, Budgie, MATE and Cinnamon can all be moulded to resemble Cupertino’s computing OS too.
But GNOME Shell is the most customisable desktop environment. This is a key ask in a task like this. GNOME Shell lets you theme and re-arrange everything you need to with the least amount hackery or fuss.
If you’re using Ubuntu 18.04 LTS or later you already have everything you need to get started, so skip ahead.
But if you don’t have GNOME Shell installed on Ubuntu you will need to install it first.
This is easy. Just click the button below and follow in the on-screen prompts (select ‘lightdm’ as the display manager when asked):
You’re also going to need to the GNOME Tweaks tool in a few steps time, so install that now too:
Once both installations are complete you need to logout and select the ‘GNOME Shell’ session from the Unity Greeter:
A word on using Unity
One thing GNOME Shell can’t offer, that the Unity desktop can, is global menu support.
Now, I don’t consider this to be a negative as more and more applications use use Client Side Decorations, making the need for a global menu redundant.
But if having an omnipresent set of app menus stripped across the top of the screen is part of the Mac experience you don’t wish to lose, stick with Unity.
2. Install a Mac GTK Theme
The single easiest way to make Ubuntu look like a Mac is to install a Mac GTK theme.
Our top recommendation is the ‘macOS Mojave’ theme by Vinceluice. This is a near-enough pixel-perfect clone of Apple’s OS skin, and is available in light and dark versions. It’s one of the best designed Mac GTK themes out there (it also has a matching GNOME Shell theme).
The ‘macOS Mojave’ theme requires GNOME 3.20 or later, so you’ll need to be running Ubuntu 16.10 or later to use it.
If you’re running the older Ubuntu 16.04 LTS release you can use the competent ‘macOS Sierra’ clone created by the B00merang project:
Tip: How To Install GTK Themes
Once you download your chosen macOS theme from the link(s) above, you will need to install it.
To install themes in Ubuntu first extract the contents of the archive you downloaded, then move the folder inside to the
~/.themes folder in your Home directory.
If you do not see this folder press
Ctrl + H to reveal hidden folders. Next, find the .themes folder or create it if it doesn’t exist. Move the extract folder mentioned above to this folder.
Finally, to change theme, open
GNOME Tweak Tool > Appearance and select your chosen theme (and the GNOME Shell theme, if you also downloaded one).
3. Install a Mac Icon Set
Next grab some a Mac Icon set for Linux. A quick Google will throw up a bunch of results. Most, sadly, aren’t complete enough to function as a full icon set, so you’ll also want to use (and in some cases manually specify) a fall back icon theme like Faba, or Papirus.
To avoid all of that hassle you may wish to use the fabulous ‘La Capitaine‘ icon pack.
What’s great about La Capitaine is that it’s a proper Linux icon set, with custom macOS inspired icons for many Linux apps and not just a direct port of mac icons to Linux. It’s also totally open-source, and is available to download from Github.
How to Install Icon Themes
Once you’ve downloaded your chosen theme from the link(s) above you need to install it. To do this first extract the contents of the archive you download, then move the folder inside to the
~/.icons folder in your Home directory.
If you don’t see this folder press
Ctrl + H to view hidden folders. Next, find the .icons folder or create it if it doesn’t exist. Move the extract folder mentioned above to this folder.
Finally, to apply, open
GNOME Tweak Tool > Appearance and select your chosen theme.
4. Change the System Font
If you’ve used Mac OS X / macOS at some point in the past few years you’ll know it has clean, crisp system typography.
‘Lucida Grande’ is the familiar Mac system font, though Apple uses a system font called ‘San Franciso’ in recent releases of macOS.
A quick Google should turn up plenty more information (and links to download San Francisco font) but be aware that neither font is not licensed for distribution — so we can’t link you to it, sorry!
Thankfully there’s an open-source alternative to ‘Lucida Grande’ called Garuda. It’s even pre-installed out of the box on Ubuntu, so you don’t need to go on a font safari to find it.
GNOME Tweak Tool > Fonts and set the ‘Windows Titles’ and ‘Interface’ fonts to Garuda Regular (or any other font you wish).
If you use Unity you can use Unity Tweak Tool to change the font on Ubuntu.
5. Add a Desktop Dock
Ask people what a Mac desktop looks like and chances are they will mention its ubiqutious desktop dock. This is a combined application launcher and window switcher.
If you opted to use GNOME Shell back in Step 1 install the excellent Dash to Dock extension from the GNOME extensions site. This dock can be adjusted, tweaked and tune to look exactly like its macOS counterpart.
Dash to Dock doesn’t look very mac-ish by default so you will want to dive in to the
GNOME Tweak Tool > Extensions > Dash to Dock > Appearance to change the colour to white, and lower the opacity.
If you chose to stick with the Unity desktop you can set the Unity Launcher to hide (
System Settings > Desktop > Behaviour) and install Plank, a desktop dock, to handle app launching and window switching:
Plank can be configured with all sorts of themes too, making it easy to replicate the Mac OS X experience. Gnosemite is a faithful mac Plank theme worth a look.
That’s it; we’ve achieved our aim to make Ubuntu look like a Mac — now it’s your turn.
We’d love to see a screenshot of your mac-inspired creation so do feel free to share one in the comments.
So, I have this MacBook that is approaching four years old, but I find that I’m not really using it these days. Then I had an idea. Why not take this aging MacBook that is probably already on borrowed time given Apple’s strict retirement policies as it pertains to hardware and give it new life with one of my favorite operating systems – Ubuntu Linux.
My goal is to install Ubuntu on a Mac to create a Linux laptop for me to be able to use around my home that I can use easily for both work and play. While I know I won’t do too much gaming on it, I should still be able to do everything I want to do, and that is enough.
Then I had another idea. Why not take this opportunity to show all of you how to do this while I’m at it. Linux is a great way to breathe new life into an aging laptop, and especially an aging Apple laptop. After all, you paid a lot of money for that laptop so you want to be able to use it for as long as you possibly can don’t you?
Today, let’s take a look at how to install Ubuntu on a MacBook Pro so you can see the step by step process for yourself before you start undertaking this type of change on your own. My hope is that you will find this guide helpful and useful to you as you move your Mac to the Linux platform and free it from the walled garden that is Apple’s Mac OS X.
1. What You Will Need
Before we get started, you will need a few things to get the job done. Luckily, our needs are pretty basic. So have a look at what you will need and then start gathering it all. I will walk you through how to get the Ubuntu ISO as part of this guide.
- A MacBook Pro (of course)
- Internet Connection
- Ubuntu ISO
- USB Stick with At Least 2 GB of Storage
2. Download Ubuntu
You can grab the Ubuntu ISO straight from their site. I would use the 64-bit version of the latest stable release, but you can choose whichever release you prefer. Once you have downloaded the ISO, make a note of where it is stored on your hard drive.
3. Build Your Bootable USB Stick
While you can create this manually, the easiest way to do it is to install Rufus. Rufus allows you to easily create bootable USB sticks with just a few clicks.
Using a PC
1. Plug in your USB stick.
2. Open Rufus.
3. Change the label to UBUNTU and make sure the scheme is set to “MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI”.
4. Click the small CD/Hard Drive icon next to where it says “Create a bootable disk using…” and select your Ubuntu ISO that you downloaded.
Ubuntu For Mac Pro 10.5
5. Click Start.
6. It will then prompt you requesting to download Syslinux. Click Yes.
7. Select “Write in ISO Image mode (Recommended)” and click OK.
8. Click OK to accept that all data on the USB Stick will be destroyed to create a bootable Ubuntu USB stick.
9. When finished, eject your USB stick.
Using a Mac
If you don’t have a PC handy, you can always use the Mac OS X operating system you currently have installed to do the job.
1. Insert your USB and go to Applications > Utilities and launch Disk Utility.
2. Click on the USB drive in the left pane, then click the Partition tab and select 1 Partition from the drop down.
3. Create a name for the drive and then change the format to Mac OS Extended (Journaled).
4. Click the Options Button and ensure that GUID Partition Table is selected and then click Ok.
5. Open Terminal and enter the following command replacing the generic path and names to suit your file locations:
6. Find the Device Node for the USB Drive.
7. Unmount the USB by running the following command:
8. Create your bootable USB by running the following command:
4. Install Ubuntu on Your MacBook Pro
Now it is time for the fun part. For this guide, we are completely replacing the existing Mac OS X on the MacBook and going with an Ubuntu only installation, but you can set it up in a dual boot scenario as well if you wish. You will have to forgive me as this is being done on a live Mac, my screenshots will be very few and far between as you can really take them during the process. I hope you understand.
- Insert your USB stick in your Mac.
- Restart your Mac and hold down the Option Key while it reboots.
- When you arrive at the Boot Selection screen, choose “EFI Boot” to select your bootable USB Stick.
- Select Install Ubuntu from the Grub boot screen.
- Select Your Language and click Continue.
- Click on “Install third-party software for graphics and Wi-Fi hardware, Flash, MP3 and other media.” Click Continue.
- Choose “Erase disk and install Ubuntu.” Click Install Now.
- Select Your Time zone and click Continue.
- Choose Your Keyboard Layout and click
- Enter your name, create a username and password and name your computer. Click Continue when finished.
- Wait for the installation to complete.
- Once the installation is complete, click the prompt saying Restart Now.
- Connect an Ethernet cable to your system to gain Internet access if it doesn’t find the Wi-Fi drivers.
- Run all Software Updates and restart your computer.
5. Get Wi-Fi Working
Chances are, the Wi-Fi on your Mac won’t work out the box. Don’t worry, you won’t have to go without wireless connectivity on your Mac just because you want to use Ubuntu. Follow the steps below to get Wi-Fi working.
- Make sure you are connected with an Ethernet cable to your network.
- Select the Broadcom driver listed in the Additional Drivers Tab and click Apply Changes.
- When the changes complete, close the app and restart your computer. Be patient, it may take a few minutes to make all the necessary changes.
Ubuntu For Mac Os
6. Enjoy Ubuntu
Congratulations! You have now successfully installed Ubuntu onto your MacBook Pro and you can enjoy it and everything it has to offer when it comes to the world of free software right on your Mac. Now it is time to get to work tweaking your new installation of Ubuntu so you can enjoy it the way you want it. That, of course, is a guide for another day.
Although I do recommend you take the time to read a little more about all the freedom you actually have when you use Ubuntu. I think you will be glad you did, as the free world of Linux has so much to offer users from all types of backgrounds.
It wasn’t always easy to install Linux on a Mac, however today things are a little different. While there are a few extra steps to get everything working just right, in the end I believe it is worth it and it is a great way to breathe new life into your aging MacBook. As you know, Apple abandons their older tech pretty quickly, which could leave you out in the cold. But with Linux, you can keep using your MacBook or MacBook Pro for many years to come.
Ubuntu For Macbook Pro 2010
What did you think about this guide? Did you find it easy to follow or did you have issues? Let me know if this guide helped you out in the comments below and if you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will do my best to give you a hand. If you are looking for an alternative laptop for Ubuntu or other versions of Linux also feel free to browse our best Linux laptops guide.