The main argument of Windows users against Linux is that it is difficult to use, not user friendly and not as “polished” as Windows. And they are wrong. Here is a short description of various ways to make linux look great (to me at least). The point of it being close to windows usage is then a matter of taste. I prefer it to be different!
I’ve used few window managers (what pops the windows up) and desktops (what you actually see on your screen) since I first started using Linux:
- which is the one people usually start with because it’s close from Windows look’n'feel. I now nearly hate it. Don’t ask why, I just don’t like it.
- which is the other windows-like Linux desktop. The windows manager behind is metacity and the interface is GTK+2.0. It’s lighter, faster and more beautiful (to me) than KDE. I still use it once in a while.
- which is a window manager/desktop very far from the spirit of windows. It small, very light in RAM and fast as hell. It has been my main window manager for one year.
- XFCE 4
- that I’ve tried just recently. This desktop is for me the best compromise between a windows-like interface (as gnome) and some more obscure but powerful linux things (like Blackbox). It has some classic user-friendly features such as applications launchers from a panel, task-bar and so on. But it is still very fast and uses the same kind of right click menu that Blackbox, which has become nearly mandatory for me now. Furthermore it uses GTK+2.0 so it’s good looking. I might stick to this one someday…
In the following you can find few links and other snapshots concerning the “skinning” or “theming” of these desktops and of some applications I’m using.
Blackbox themes can be found on Freshmeat. To install one just copy it to ~/.blackbox/styles/ and jump to it in the style section of blackbox right-click menu.
Old Blackbox snapshots with a theme called Almost X which is said to mimic the blue colors of Mac OS X Aqua interface.
Many applications using MacOSX-like skins (gkrellm, xmms, mplayer). Two transparent E-terms in the up-left corner (used to monitor the state of an FTP server and to pass small commands). Other more shaded E-terms that I use as my everyday terminal. The simplest and fastest file manager of the galaxy: SFM. A small image viewer in the back: qiv. ICQ with nice icons. And The Gimp, used to take the snapshot showing my GTK+1 theme: crux.
A lighter snapshot with few applications and showing the small customisable menu of blackbox. It lets appear my wallpaper: a linux-oriented modification of a windows XP one! You can download the Blackbox style that I modified : AlmostX. If you like the applications skins, look down the page. I can’t provide the background because I lost it…
Blackbox with a new theme. This theme colors are made to fit a GTK+2.0 theme called Milk which is also derived from Mac OS X. I’m the author grey-white theme and of the background I use with it.
Applications from top left to bottom right: Gimp-2.0, used to take the snapshot, Gaim an inter-protocol Instant Messaging client (ICQ, AOL, MSN…), a transparent Eterm, Mplayer with a iTune/QuikTime like skin, XMMS with the same kind of skin, gkrellm with Milk theme. And in the middle, the same old blackbox menu. The blackbox theme is called Milk and the background is made from a picture I bought. To install the theme (wallpaper included) just unzip the archive in ~/.blackbox.
Gnome / XFCE 4 theming (GTK+2.0 themes):
GTK+2.0 themes can be found on Art Gnome.com. To install one, unpack the .tar.gz file and copy the directory hence created in /usr/share/themes. Gnome or XFCE 4 provide graphical interfaces to change easily your GTK+2.0 theme. Otherwise a small utility called Switch is available to change your GTK+1.0 and GTK+2.0 themes.
Here is a snapshot of XFCE 4 with the GTK+2.0 theme called Milk:
A transparent Eterm which is my everyday-use terminal. XMMS on the up-right corner with a winamp skin. The Gimp on the left. Some information about XFCE 4 in the center of the imag.; At the bottom, the XFCE 4 pannel with shortcuts to some applications, a desktop switcher, some ressources monitors and the usual date, time and such. In the bottom-right corner a window iconified in XFCE 4 iconbox. In the middle the XFCE 4 menu, obtained with a right click on the desktop.
The wallpaper is made from an image found on the web an can be downloaded in 1024×768 resolution.
And here is a snapshot of Gnome with the same theme:
Still the same transparent Eterm. On the right, Gaim an inter-protocol Instant Messaging client (ICQ, AOL, MSN…). Still XMMS in the up-right corner. The bottom is Gnome’s toolbar with applications launchers, iconified windows, system monitors and all the rest. Just above is Gnome-Commander a Norton-Commander like file manager (two panels, many keyboard shortcuts).
The background is made from a picture I bought in Paris. You can download it in 1024×768 resolution.