How to make Ubuntu as similar as possible to Windows

In the most recent versions of Ubuntu, we have seen a gradual approach to the other types of operating systems. The user experience has seen a recent increase with GNOME Shell of Ubuntu 18.04 LTS that allows you to have a single bar of applications in full Windows style.

This is an important step forward that limits the trauma for those who made the big leap from the Microsoft operating system to Linux but, in this sense, there are a number of rather interesting measures to bring the two OS together.

An Ubuntu interface that comes close to Windows

Better to be clear right away: if you get sick with Ubuntu, the changes you can make with these changes will be minimal. The advice is, if you are strongly nostalgic about Windows, to fall back on the Microsoft operating system.

If instead you would like to change the interface just a bit ‘towards Windows, continue to follow this little guide: you’ll be satisfied!

A Windows-style taskbar

The GNOME Shell desktop supports extensions that can drastically change the desktop layout and add various features. In order to do this, you will need to install extensions and an editing tool.

First, open a Terminal window. You can do this by clicking on Activities in the upper left corner of the screen, looking for Terminal and then pressing enter.

Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal, then press enter:

sudo apt install gnome-shell-extensions gnome-shell-extension-dash-to-panel gnome-tweaks adwaita-icon-theme-full

You will be prompted to enter your password and enter Y to continue.

The command just listed, allows you to install the GNOME Shell Extensions package, the Dash to Panel extension, the GNOME Tweaks utility and a theme of icons that will be very useful.

You will have to log out and re-enter before GNOME Shell discovers the newly installed extensions. To do this:

  • Click on the system icons in the upper right corner of the screen
  • click on your name and then click on the Exit command
  • then log in again normally
  • after logging in, start the Tweaks application (you’ll find it in the Applications menu )
  • Click on the Extension category on the left side of the Tweaks window to view the installed extensions
  • now enables the Dash to Panel extension

If you do not see this extension in the list here, you must exit and then reconnect.

The dock on the left side and the bar at the top of the screen will disappear and will be replaced by a single Windows-style application bar at the bottom of the screen.

This panel also features live thumbnails that also resemble Windows. When you mouse over an application in the title bar and a jumplist-style feature that shows application-specific shortcuts when you right-click the icon in question.

Choose a theme

The default theme of Ubuntu is called Ambiance and is based on a color scheme mainly based on orange and gray. Thanks to the packages installed just now you can change this theme according to your tastes.

To change the theme, open the Tweaks application. Under Appearance -> Themes, you can see how Ubuntu uses Ambiance for the theme by default, DMZ-White for the cursor and for the icons the Humanity graphic.

If you want a theme slightly closer to Windows chromatically, try Adwaita (a very light theme with a predominance of blue and white). For those who prefer slightly darker themes, there is the Adwaita-dark variant, which can always be selected from the Themes menu.

Change the background

If you’re still using the standard Ubuntu background, you may want to replace it. To do this, right-click anywhere on the desktop and select the Change Background command. Use the options available here to choose one of the available backgrounds, or choose an image you previously downloaded or opt for a monochromatic background.

Note: from here you can also change the background of the Ubuntu lock screen.

Finally, you will notice how the orange and gray colors are still present. For example, you will see them when you click the clock icon or the system status in the lower right corner of the screen.

To change these combinations also, you must first enable the User Themes extension from the Extensions panel in the Tweaks application. Just click on Extension and set the User Themes item to ON.

You’ll probably need to download a fairly light GNOME shell theme to install. Naturally, in this context personal tastes are almost everything but, among many, we took Nextik into consideration. Download the file (or any other theme that inspires you) on your computer to get started.

Start the Tweaks application again. Then, to the right of the Shell entry, in the Themes section, select (None) (If you do not see this option after installing the User Themes extension, you must close and restart Tweaks).

Now click on the box to the right of the (None) button, then select Theme Nextik from the list. Using this particular theme, various panels and popups will appear with a light gray and blue: a good combination if combined with Adwaita or Adwaita-dark.

Enable a Windows Style Applications menu

If you do not like to start the application in full screen, you can instead go to the popup menu of the Start menu, as happens with Windows.

To do this:

  • go on Tweaks
  • select Extensions
  • set the button next to Applications Menu to ON

This will display a pop-up applications menu each time you click on the Applications option. So you can order your applications in different categories as you like, so you can start them more easily.

An example of the ductility and potential of GNOME Shell

If you feel homesick for the Windows environment, it is good to know that what is described is nothing but a palliative. At the same time, however, what has just been described underlines once again the enormous potential of GNOME Shell and related extensions.

Beyond “mimicking” Windows, in fact, you can change the face of your operating system to create something truly unique, adapting it perfectly to the needs of each user.

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