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Nostalgia is a weird feeling.

I tend to think that most Linux users have spent many years with Windows before switching to Linux, and this – in many cases – leaves them with a nostalgia to the look and feel of Windows operating systems, such as Windows XP, 7 and 10. There are also people who never want to hear about Windows or see its face ever again.

For those of you from the first category, luckily, you can easily turn your Linux installation into the look & feel of Windows, thanks to the B00merang Project.

Understanding How Linux Theming Works

In the Linux world, desktop environments use something called “user interface toolkits” to develop menus, panels and applications. There are 2 famous toolkits that are widely used in Linux: GTK and Qt.

  • Desktops that use GTK: Cinnamon, GNOME Shell, Xfce and Unity.
  • Desktops that use Qt: KDE Plasma, Enlightment and LXQt.

You can get GTK and Qt themes from many sources and websites on the Internet to make your system look more stylish according to your taste. However, the GTK/Qt theme used is not everything, as most desktops tend to develop their own “window managers” and other interface components, which will require you get additional themes for each of these components.

You additionally need an “Xfwm4” theme if you are gonna use Xfce, or your window controls will look different than your GTK theme. You need Cinnamon and GNOME Shell themes if you are using these desktops in addition to the GTK theme so that you can have a fully compatible look & feel on your desktop.

Beside all of that, you need something called “icon themes”, which will change all the icons looking on your system. Icons are independent of the desktop you use, and can be used everywhere (Unlike Cinnamon themes for example, you can’t use them on Xfce or GNOME). You can use the same icon theme if you want on both GTK-powered interfaces and Qt-powered ones.

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Because of this situation, most Linux theme developers usually release complete sets of themes that will give you the same look they wanted on most supported desktop environments instead of just independent themes for each desktop.

Fortunately, the B00merang Project is one of them; It provides you with Windows XP, 7 and 10 themes that support GTK toolkit and its desktops like Cinnamon, GNOME Shell, Xfce, Unity and other apps (Plank panel theme and Openbox window manager theme). It also provides you with the same Windows icon themes so that you can have the exact same look & feel as Windows.

Making your Linux Look Like Windows XP, 7 and 10

For Windows XP Theme

  1. Download the icon theme from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.icons folder. The .icons folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  2. Download the complete Windows XP theme for Linux from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.themes folder. The .themes folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  3. Now, you just need to switch into using the new themes. This can be done differently depending on what desktops you use. For GNOME Shell, you’ll need the GNOME Tweaks tool installed, and then head to the Appearance tab and change the themes from there. For Cinnamon, open System Settings and head to Themes. For Xfce, there’s an appearance window in the settings manager to change your themes.

Now you are done! Your desktop should look like this:

windows look on linux 5 March 26, 2020

For Windows 7 Theme

  1. Download the icon theme from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.icons folder. The .icons folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  2. Download the complete Windows 7 theme for Linux from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.themes folder. The .themes folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  3. Now, you just need to switch into using the new themes. This can be done differently depending on what desktops you use. For GNOME Shell, you’ll need the GNOME Tweaks tool installed, and then head to the Appearance tab and change the themes from there. For Cinnamon, open System Settings and head to Themes. For Xfce, there’s an appearance window in the settings manager to change your themes.

Now you are done! Your desktop should look like this:

windows look on linux 7 March 26, 2020

For Windows 10 Theme

  1. Download the icon theme from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.icons folder. The .icons folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  2. Download the complete Windows 10 theme for Linux from the following URL, and extract it into /home/<your_user_name>/.themes folder. The .themes folder is a hidden folder in your home directory (You need to press Ctrl + H to display it). If it doesn’t exist, then simply create it.
  3. Now, you just need to switch into using the new themes. This can be done differently depending on what desktops you use. For GNOME Shell, you’ll need the GNOME Tweaks tool installed, and then head to the Appearance tab and change the themes from there. For Cinnamon, open System Settings and head to Themes. For Xfce, there’s an appearance window in the settings manager to change your themes.

Now you are done! Your desktop should look like this:

windows look on linux 9 March 26, 2020

The Bottom Line

So this is the end of our post. The B00merang Project did an amazing effort that probably costed them hundreds of hours of work, and they gave it for free! If you want, you can show them your gratitude by contacting them and saying a thank you, or via supporting them on their GitHub profile.

In addition to that, you would be glad to know that they provide more themes than this; Such as Windows 95, 8, macOS, Solaris, android themes and much more too! You can browse their themes from the following link, and you can get their icon themes from the following page.

What do you think about this Windows theming on Linux? Do you like it?

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Comments to: Make Your Linux Look Like Windows XP, 7 and 10
  • April 11, 2020

    It’s not (at least, not completely) working. What do I do.

    Reply
    • April 11, 2020

      Is there somewhere I can a screenshot/cast?

      Reply
    • April 11, 2020

      The icon themes are working, but the other one isn’t even showing up as an option.

      Reply
      • April 11, 2020

        Are you sure that you have placed them in the .themes folder? You should place only the top-level folders, and not folders containing other theme folders, for example.

        Reply
        • April 12, 2020

          Yeah, that worked; thanks; evidently the person who made the Windows 7 icons theme thought ahead, further than the person who made the Windows 7 complete theme. The reason the Windows 7 icons theme worked, straight away, is that when you add files/folders into a zip file, upon decompression, the name of the .zip file becomes a master folder, for the files/folders you add to the .zip. The person who made the Windows 7 icons theme, just added all the individual sub-folders to a .zip file. The person who made the Windows 7 complete theme didn’t do that, he added all the individual sub-folders, inside an existing master folder, so the end result was all the sub-folders/files, inside a master folder, inside another master folder; I just had to delete one of the resulting master folders, and it all worked out, then.

          Reply
  • April 12, 2020

    So, now I fixed the (originally, the only problem I thought I had) first problem; problem is, now though, I have another problem. The picture you included, for how a Windows 7 themed desktop was supposed to look in the end, is not what my desktop looks like, presently.

    Reply
    • April 13, 2020

      The apperance would depend on the desktop environment that you are using, in addition to what applets/extensions you might have on your panel.

      Reply

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