Macbuntu strikes again, and we likes it!

Updated: December 26, 2014

Remember Macbuntu? It's a MAC OS X transformation pack for Ubuntu, which lets you tweak your Ubuntu desktop into looking like an Apple's offering. I have tried it about four years ago, on Lucid, but haven't played with the software since Unity replaced Gnome 2 as the desktop environment. I decided it was time for another attempt.

If you read online, you will find multiple references to Macbuntu, so it can be a little confusing. There's the SourceForge hosted project, and there's the initiative by Noobslab, who have packaged together a handful of PPA and scripts to help you refashion your Unity desktop in a modular and easily reversible way. We checked.


The beauticious and the noob

Anyhow, my test distro was actually a Salamander instance rather than a Trusty LTS, running in a quad-boot setup on a T61 machine. But for all practical purposes, that's good enough. We will be enjoying the finer points of art, regardless of the actual distro version.

Unlike the previous attempt, the setup is more manual, interactive, and you can decide to skip certain portions of the transformation. You can choose between changing wallpapers, fonts, themes, icons, splash screen, login screen, additional Unity decorations, as well as using a dock at the bottom of the desktop. In this particular case, Docky, with a separate Mac OS X theme. There are several more tweaks available, as outlined in the original article, but it is entirely up to you. Plus, if you do not like it, you can easily go back.

The first thing I did was download Unity Tweak Tool, in order to be able to control the Unity behavior, since most of the options and settings are hidden from the standard settings panel. This will actually help you perform the transformation more easily.

Unity Tweak Tool

Then, you can proceed with themes, fonts and icons. Personally, I skipped fonts, because I did not really like them. Then, the official tutorial mentions a v3 revision for some of the packages, but it really depends on your distro version. If you stumble, search first using apt-cache search, then narrow it down to the right package and version.

New theme

New icons

Slowly, you will start making progress. Do not rush. Take your time. Examine each component, and make sure you like it. For example, you may decide you prefer the left-side Launcher rather than Docky. Or you may want both, and then alternate between them based on your mood and auto-hide settings. Branding is also something you may want to consider, or not. I did not want to replace the Ubuntu logo and strings with Mac. The whole idea of the transformation is to retain pieces of the original identity, so you can brag and showoff before your nonexistent friends.

Transformation, WIP

File manager

Hide launcher

Docky, zoomed


And now, some lovely lovely images:

Desktop 1

Desktop 2

Final looks

Nice looks

System settings

Ubuntu Software Center

Shutdown prompt


This transformation serves little to no practical purposes. But it's fine. The whole idea is not to give you new functionality, it's to give you extra beauty, and in this regard, the project succeeds quite well. While the original product is quite pleasing, Macbuntu does infuse the desktop with some extra flair and finesse. Enough to make it fresh and cool once again, even for a short while.

I hope you like the concept. I sure do. And while there's a lot of room for problems and niggles and visual glitches, my testing has revealed none of that so far. The pack works well, and it integrates smoothly into the Unity setup. Really elegant. For all you desktop and distro hoppers, always searching for next exciting and shiny thing, a new angle to make Linux spicier and more appealing to the crowds, there's a perfect toy for you.


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