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How To Make An Ubuntu 11.04 Classic Desktop Resemble A Mac (With Elementary, Docky & Gloobus-Preview)

This article shows how you can change the appearance of your Ubuntu 11.04 desktop (with the Ubuntu Classic interface, i.e., GNOME instead of Unity) so that it resembles a Mac. This can be achieved with the help of Elementary, Docky, and Gloobus-Preview. Elementary is a project that provides a popular icon set and GTK theme; Docky is an interactive dock (like the one you know from a Mac) that provides easy access to some of the files, folders, and applications on your computer, and more; and Gloobus-Preview is an extension for the Gnome Desktop Environment designed to enable a full screen preview of any kind of file or directory.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

Please note that I’m using the Ubuntu Classic desktop (GNOME) here instead of Unity. This tutorial will not work if you use Unity!

Docky requires that you use a compositing manager on your desktop. If you’ve enabled Compiz Fusion (e.g. as shown in this tutorial: Enabling Compiz Fusion On An Ubuntu Classic 11.04 Desktop (GNOME) (NVIDIA GeForce 8200)), then you’re good to go. If your hardware doesn’t support Compiz Fusion, you should enable the metacity compositing manager.


2 Installing Elementary, Docky, And Gloobus

Docky is available as a package in the official Ubuntu 11.04 repositories, but Elementary and Gloobus-Preview are not. Fortunately there are packages available on Launchpad, so we have to add software sources to our system so that we can install these packages. Go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager:


In the Synaptic Package Manager, go to Settings > Repositories:


Go to the Other Software tab and click on the Add button:


Add the following repository in the APT line field:


Then click on the Add Source button:


Click on Close in the Software Sources window afterwards:


Because of the new repositories, the system’s package database needs to be updated…


… to do this, click on the Reload button in the Synaptic Package Manager:


Now the package database is being updated:


If you get an error like W: GPG error: natty Release: The following signatures couldn’t be verified because the public key is not available: NO_PUBKEY 4D17133CFC5D50C5


… open a terminal and run the following two commands:

gpg –keyserver –recv 4D17133CFC5D50C5
gpg –export –armor 4D17133CFC5D50C5 | sudo apt-key add –

(Replace 4D17133CFC5D50C5 with the string that comes after NO_PUBKEY in the error message.)


Back in the Synaptic Package Manager, select the following packages for installation (you can use the Quick filter field to search for them):

  • elementary-theme
  • elementary-icon-theme
  • docky
  • gloobus-preview


Gloobus-Preview allows us to preview files and directories in Nautilus by marking an item and pressing the space bar on our keyboard. But this works only with a special version of Nautilus which is also available from the repositories that we’ve enabled in this chapter.

To install this special Nautilus version, upgrade the following (already installed) packages by selecting Mark for Upgrade:

  • libnautilus-extension1
  • nautilus
  • nautilus-data


Click on Apply to install the packages:


3 Activating Elementary

To activate the Elementary theme, go to System > Preferences > Appearance:


On the Theme tab, select the elementary theme – the desktop theme should change immediately:


Go to the Background tab and select a wallpaper that you like – the wallpaper should also change immediately:


4 Enabling Docky

To start Docky, go to Applications > Accessories > Docky:


You should then see the dock at the bottom of your desktop. Click on the Docky icon (the left icon in the dock) to open the Docky Settings window.



In the Docky Settings window, you can fine-tune Docky’s behaviour, for example you can tell it to start automatically when the computer starts (which makes sense) and to use a 3D background:


On the Docklets tab, you can add some additional applications to your dock, for example a clock. Click on Close when you’re done with the Docky configuration:


Now we remove the panel at the bottom because it interferes with our dock. Right-click on the panel and select Delete This Panel from the menu that comes up:


Confirm this action by clicking on Delete in the following dialogue:


The bottom panel should now be gone, and your desktop should look like this:


5 Enabling Gloobus-Preview

To enable Gloobus-Preview, we need to log out of our current desktop session and back in so that our new Nautilus version can load:


Afterwards, you can open your Nautilus file browser (under Places). To preview an item, mark it (i.e., click on it once), and then press the space bar:




6 Screenshots

That’s it! Your desktop should now resemble a Mac. Here are a few screenshots of what your desktop could look like now:


6 Screenshots

That’s it! Your desktop should now resemble a Mac. Here are a few screenshots of what your desktop could look like now:



  • Elementary:
  • Docky:
  • Gloobus-Preview:
  • Ubuntu: