Ubuntu's New Look, a Pale Imitation of Mac OS X?

The moment Ubuntu enthusiasts have been waiting for has arrived. Canonical has announced the rebranding of Ubuntu and showed us the new logo, color schemes, desktop themes, and more. According to them, the new style of Ubuntu is driven by the theme called "Light", which will be used in version 10.04 LTS "Lucid Lynx" and will define the look and feel of Ubuntu for several years. But are there really a lot to be excited about with this redesign?

First of all, I would like to give credit to the Ubuntu team for all their efforts in trying to give this already excellent Linux distro a more polish and simple appeal. Personally, I love the new set of logos (see below):

...except for this one:

Now let's take a deep look at the brand new "Light" theme (click to enlarge):

Compare it to the Mac OS X desktop:

Can you see the similarity? I guess I was right in saying that Ubuntu is trying to imitate the Mac OS X look (read Ubuntu Goin' Gray...) .

First, look at the top menu. Does it not closely resemble that of Mac OS X? --The light-gray menu bar (although the Ubuntu menu has a little shades of brown), the all black menu items, and the WiFi signal strength meter among others are telling us that they are Mac-inspired.

The new Ubuntu window area (Gtk theme) is also quite similar to that of Mac OS X. It looks like they slightly copied the circle buttons and even place them on the left side like that of (you guessed it) the Mac OS X.

The wallpaper completes the pale imitation. As most of you may know, the purple aurora wallpaper is the default wallpaper of OS X "Leopard" and "Snow Leopard".

I think Ubuntu is having an identity crisis right now and should seriously consider changing several things in terms of look and feel to avoid being branded as a Mac OS X rip-off, or worse, get sued by Apple.

I believe the fans are divided right now. Some have learned to love the brown color scheme since it uniquely represents Ubuntu, while others wanted change. Now that the change has come, are you willing to accept it? What are your thoughts regarding the new design?


  1. Just because the guy next me is wearing an blue shirt doesn't mean I shouldn't wear the same color shirt!!! If gtk color theme is same as Mac/Windows doesn't matter.

    Out of all possible color combination few only looks good... As long Ubuntu theme is good looking it's fine

  2. Are you saying this is the stock theme that will install by default? There are a lot of themes available for Ubuntu. I think Karmic has at least four already installed and available with a couple of mouse clicks. Personally, I use of the darker themes. But the only real similarity here with OS X is the wallpaper which pretty much everyone I know changes to something else anyway. On either OS, purple or pink or whatever is a pretty disastrous color for a desktop background and makes viewing photos and videos and needs to be changed out IMO.

  3. I'm sorry, but you need to learn to not read into things so far trying to stoke a flame war. Ubuntu is refreshing its default theme and branding. The new logo looks sleek, sharp, and precise. It also looks *nothing like* anything that comes from Cupertino. Their main color is *still orange* and not gray (like you claimed in your "Ubuntu Goin' Gray..." post). The accent color is actually a shade of purple. Still not gray.

    Ubuntu has had a similar, slightly evolving look since 2004. They decided to switch things up after five years of the same logo and color scheme. Big effin' deal. They're *not* trying to copy anybody but to market themselves as *different* from everyone else.

    The default theme may or may not have the buttons on the left (it's a general consensus that it won't). Otherwise the pictures you posted have *nothing* in common regarding the actual themes (I see you put the windows in similar locations... clever you). Sure, the gnome-panel (which has been part of GNOME for ages) has similar styling for the icons. So does Windows. It makes sense to have solid-colored icons on a panel. As Anonymous said (at 3:05), the default theme can be changed with two clicks and will be by most users.

    And the default background... it's purple because that's new accent color of Ubuntu. Apple does *not* use purple in any of its branding or themes. I don't know of any popular operating systems that do; another example of Canonical doing something *different* with Ubuntu.

  4. Oh my...I'd rather download a pirated copy of Mac OS X Leopard than get the new Ubuntu. They are really copying Mac even the services that they are offering right now. First they copied Apple's MobileMe by creating Ubuntu One. Then there's Ubuntu Music Store that we know is an iTunes rip off. What will they create next? An iBuntu? - a music player powered by Ubuntu.

  5. Apple didn't invent computing. Everything apple has ever done was done by someone else first. They simply put their spin on it and feed the sheep.

  6. That was the first thing I thought when I saw the new scheme.. Apple Clone.

    Not good.
    When I boot up my super cool Ubuntu desktop or steer someone to try it out I don't want them to think "This looks an Apple"

    Can any one say Lindows?

    Why Purple? Why? Why? Why?!

    Heck I don't even like Apple's theme.

  7. That is not fair... if the window buttons are on the left side, Ubuntu is said to copy Mac OSX, if they are on the right side, people say that it is copied from Windows... should they put it somewhere in the center, or on the bottom window border to be fully original (and clumsy)?

  8. color this color that, all a matter of taste, and can easily be customized by the user.

    the key is what is under the hood.
    and with Ubuntu, you aren't tied to Apple's hardware or company.


    Linux = True Freedom.

  9. Hey, even if Ubuntu does a mac clone of sorts, the fact that its open-source, costs no money, and runs on anything (in theory, stupid closed-source drivers) makes it way better. The fact is, Apple does a lot of things very well. Their seeming obsession with end-to-end control of the user experience results in very good interfaces and integration. If Ubuntu can take Apple's good aspects, but skip the control-freak tendencies that Apple has, they'll go a long way towards the mainstream. I know non-geeky people who get annoyed with Apple for those kinds of reasons. They's switch to Ubuntu in a heartbeat if it was easy as their Mac (no driver issues, things like that).

  10. Things that were *not* taken over from Mac:

    - Put X in the corner (it's actually on the inner-left side)
    - Dock
    - Size of top panel
    - Functionality of top panel
    - Main color of icons

    That is: most of the user experience. Just because they changed the background to purple, you claim it looks like Mac? Very poor judgment.

    Shuttleworth *did* say he wanted to increase usability, and said that Mac OS was a target. A target to surpass, that is.

  11. The important thing to remember is that Mark Shuttleworth himself has said numerous times that they are trying to move Ubuntu graphically in the direction of emulating the MacOS look and feel, but with their own spin. I think it's quite elegant.

    I don't use Ubuntu though, I use Mint, which is still much better at detecting drivers and an overall improved product than it's parent distro. I'm curious to see what Mint will do with the new interface.

  12. It should be noted, as someone USING Alpha 3, that the button are on the RIGHT. Please get your stories straight before starting something like this.

  13. The open source community celebrates the news that Ubuntu will (finally) get a facelift.

    Unfortunately, I still don't like it. The first screenshots look unpolished and unprofessional.

    Compare that with the open source Enigma Desktop

  14. I hope this saying is not true: Once you go Mac, you never go back.

  15. Wait a second here. If I decide to wear three pins on my left lapel, say a flag & an elk & a hammer & sickle, & I see some other with the same buttons, I can sue him? Does apple have some sort of patent or copyright on having three buttons on the left & purple-ish? The sad this is that they probably do.

  16. Nope: once you go GNU/Linux/Slackware you never go back :P

  17. in my opinion, the new look will be rejected by users because is similar to mac.
    many thanks for bisigi themes developers. we have a lot of things to choose from

  18. Jun, man, you really don´t get it.
    Its not about if it looks like something else!
    It´s about anyone being able to make it look the way they want it!

  19. Wait, Gnome looks like OS10?
    No.... really?
    This is not a new thing, althoug the only thing missing from this version is a fruit logo.

    I have yet to meet a destkop that I can use the default settings (besides the fact that like all people I know with weak eyes the fonts are waaaaaaay too small) and the first thing I do when I get one is take all the stuff down.
    I like my own wallpapers (preferably with a KDE type slideshow to change automatically) and I make the taskbars, since back in the Win98 days, disappear from sight when I dont use them.

    So I might not be the right guy to 'appreciate' hype when it comes to eyecandy (whch I love), wallpapers, icons and fonts.

    But that's what this is: the promotion of fluff to get some buzz going which as we all know is how you get to be popular.
    Pretty soon, we will have the same kind of PR stunts but instead of knowing ahead of time, there will be secrecy involved in the unveilings because we know that hiding things and then releasing them drop by drop is the way to wet the appetites of the tech blogs. Most likely have some big online event called "One new thing" where the world will be invited to gather and admire the new wallpapers and logos.
    That's how you create hype/buzz/BS.

    If youre going to ape something, you might as well do it like pros all the way through.

    In the greater schemes of things, this is wholly unimportant for most Linux geeks who know how to change things (my long retired parents know how to change themes as well so it cant be that hard).
    The strength of Linux is that we have many desktops to choose from (and as someone who has converted over 40 people Linux, Gnome is not popular with Windows switchers because it looks like Mac, the look and feel of GTK and fonts is different) and this is one of many looks that Linux can have.
    As long as we dont act like this is THE definitive Linux desktop, then its fine.
    Choice is good.
    Choice is what we are about.
    Whether you want satanic versions or Mac copies, its all about what the USER wants.

    But let's not kid ourselves, the Gnome has always copied Mac, this is only another step in that direction.

  20. You're complaining about a feature that can be changed in a heart beat and customized to your heart's desire? It's a freaking theme. Besides the black icons on the panel, I see nothing to support your argument. The colors, buttons, menus, windows, damn near everything is different. I couldn't be happier with the solid icons. The old GTK icons were too comical in my opinion. Why do I need a colorful little eyesore just to tell me I'm connect to the internet? I change my icons to OSX icons, because frankly they have a good icon setup. Why don't you post a real story that will help people decide to use the new version, instead of implying they should just get a mac.

  21. Son: Look, Ma! I'm using Mac OS X, except that it's not really Mac OS X, it's Ubuntu.

    Mother: Well that's great son! Now it's time to replace your crappy old laptop that has an Apple sticker on.

  22. And can anyone honestly say that they keep the default orange and brown theme?

  23. I am disappointed in the "new" look because it looks very old and tired. It reminds me more of Mac OS9 with a few hints of Mac OSX. To me, it looks very mid '90's and is not graphically sophisticated and aesthetic, as should be expected in the year 2010. Graphics have come a long way beyond the primitive appearance of the "new" Ubuntu. It would be very easy for Ubuntu to update in a more sophisticated, modern way.

  24. the new logo's look like garbage

    the theme is just another ubuntu copy. just like they copy everything else. just a clone, clone of debian, with a gui clone of mac. and it does matter what it looks like, i don't want to use software that I HAVE to change the theme because the developers made it look like mac.

    ubuntu sucks, just a bunch of fanboy newbs that don't know any better. performance sucks, hardware setup sucks.

    run real linux, then maybe people will take you seriously

  25. The human theme and the bisigi themes are really wonderful. As for moving the Min-Max-close buttons to the left, I feel it's a little convenient for some. For hands that are accustomed to quickly moving to the right, it's useless and will be one more thing to undo just after a fresh install!

    The shades are good though. I feel we can now let some brighter and IMO different color to the ubuntu desktop.

    As for Gnome aping the OS9/X I feel that's only partly true. Gnome has been clean and intuitive always without being a major system hog or eye candy hog!

    Copying good things from anywhere without stiffling choices is always great. It's about human beings remember! So overall, I feel this new theme is a welcome change ... besides we'll still have the older themes to switch too!

  26. I wonder how many people actually keep the starting UI. I like my desktop and file system organized in kind of a weird way ... what I think is a good organization of information, others might think is weird. Cairo Dock, Krusader, Conky, all sorts of good stuff. Basically, I don't think what the default UI looks like at first start up will be a deal breaker for Ubuntu users such as myself.

  27. this is how looks like my fresh installation of Ubuntu LL:

    the icons are a little messy for the change of resolution in the virtual machine...
    greetings from Chile! ;)

  28. You can change it if you want to so its not really an issue. Its sad that our innovative linux is starting to copy Mac.

  29. it doesn't look like mac to me. Sure they changed the WIFI signal to the mac like one and put the buttons on the left. Who cares.

  30. If they put the buttons on the left I'm switching to Mint and punching somebody in the face before I leave.

  31. Am I the only one that can get along with all the OS offerings out there?

    I have OS X 10.6 and Windows 7 on my Macbook Pro

    And I'm install Ubuntu 9.10 right now on my PPC G4 Mac Mini as its only OS.

    I grew to like the brown.
    I really like the new theme for Ubuntu but I will be choosing the dark grey that is the grey of the Professional Video Editing apps from Apple.

    I think what I see from Ubuntu overall is generally good from release to release. I can see them trying which is more than I can say for others.

    I don't agree with mono, especially in a default install.

    I'm agnostic over Gimp or OpenOffice inclusion as I don't run them often enough to form an opinion.

    I do a lot of coding and have taken up a lot of python lately and Ubuntu is a good distro for python, just watching the installer complete which is written in python and humming along quite nicely.

    The only thing giving me grief in the Python world is I like the eric4 editor but its written in Qt. Qt is utter crap when you are not on a Linux platform because the additional software building on it, Scintilla etc, have no binaries or easy install. Just dump a Linux package with source at the user and say figure out how to make it on your computer.

    Therefore Qt is an absolute No for choice for development, and I do all my work in WxWidgets which has complete and easy binary installers for every platform, even Windows.

    I see these as more typical areas for debate, even heated than what I consider wanker opinions on what a theme color is or if it looks like OS X.

    We all need to check ourselves at times.

  32. Wow! I am very disturbed on such comments in which were mentioned. I personally love Canonical's new Ubuntu design. I am thrilled to see Ubuntu growing better then before. I can just imagine that beautiful theme with their awesome new user interface and not to mention that awesome Facebook and Twitter connect right from the desktop.

    Ubuntu is doing a great job and I believe that Ubuntu should copy a bit more of easy to use interfaces such as the Mac operating system. Also Ubuntu has awesome performance and reliability. Ubuntu has saved my digital life by serving as the most secure operating system of my life.

    Ubuntu 10.04 is decently an awesome release and I can see Ubuntu with even more action with Ubuntu 10.10. I can't wait till this new release is out. Ubuntu saved over $43,000 on licensing for all my business computers and it has saved me from purchasing software.

    Ubuntu's new UI is brilliant! I am proud to have installed Ubuntu on all my business and personal computers. Ubuntu is a pure blessing and a life saver.

  33. Imitation of the best is forgivable. May you forgive imitation of Windows 7 instead?

  34. Who cares. As long as they still have the current Dust theme (the darker one) thats what I'll be using. And if you really want a Mac clone theres that elegant theme or whatever it is that does a pretty nice job of making the GTK apps even cleaner and simpler in terms of looks.

    Personally I don't want my window buttons on the left either. It feels unnatural to me now to manipulate the window over there. And the buttons themselves look like copies of KDE...and I must say the buttons in their last release were very pleasing to the eye. But anyway just give me my flat icon buttons on the right and call it a day. When I get tired of Dust I'll visit Gnome Look or Ubuntu Look like everybody else and look for something new.

  35. Come on Canonical!! LinuxMint has much less funds and does a much better job each release. Just hire them!

  36. As a person who uses both Ubuntu and OS X, It doesn't really bother me. Isn't imitation the sincerest form of flattery? I hope Ubuntu continues to thrive, but I have no quarrel with Apple. I just wish they had bought Sun instead of Oracle.

  37. I personally do like the new logo & the new color scheme. However, I am not too crazy about the new buttons placement but I will not change em if they came with default install.

    Kudos to Canonical for the great job.

  38. I don't like the themes because they look ugly not because they look like OSX

  39. I like Ubuntu Linux this is the distro that moves me to the Linux world. The only thing I'd like to happen is the Intel Graphics regressions and how to make copying files from CD-ROM/DVD-ROM lose its security emblem.

  40. It's macish and that's why me don't like it!

  41. I don't know about themeing in OSX, but in gnome it's as easy as a left click on desktop...
    I've been fed up of brown after one year, like 3 years ago at least. Then I stuck with dark themes like ubuntustudio's one and new wave.

    Linux is about freedom and not companies/distros choices.

    A theme is copied from OSX, an other one from 7, who cares ? Some others are better and far more innovative.
    But Ubuntu has aim to convince and convert windows/osx users. And to accomplish that they tend to mimick. In my pov this is the sad way of converting people to something better.

  42. Wait... which one was the Ubuntu one again?

    "Linux will never be as good as OSX blah blah blah..."

    "Ubuntu looks too much like OSX blah blah blah..."

    Can we just settle on a meme and stick with it please? Can't you follow Microsoft's example, they will be blathering "Windows is cheaper and more secure" all the way to the grave... hahaha... man that one always gets me.

    Don't worry, just think of OSX as having a new twin sibling one that's smarter, more popular and more attractive, and loves you.

    Be happy!


  43. Methinks they'll get sued.

  44. So that means every blue linux theme distro out there is a copy of Windows?

    You are stretching things too far.

    You might as well say every car is the same and copy everyone else.

    I like the new theme, they will refine it. People complain about brown now they complain about this. There is no pleasing people, therefore, I hope they don't try.

  45. Ubuntu: Linux For Dummies. On Disk!

    Ubuntu: An old African word for, "can't configure Debian"

    Q: What's the difference between an Ubuntu user and an AOL user?

    A: About ten years.

  46. I'm amazed that adults judge a release based on something as silly and transitory as the default theme. Graphics people, get over yourself. Desktop themes are subject to trends like fashion. What works will be imitated ad nauseum until the next trend hits. If you base the OS you choose on something as useless as the default wallpaper and color scheme, I would rather not have you using the same distro as me.

  47. Wow. Another typical Apple fan, "they copied us!!!". Yes, because gnome NEVER had the menu bar on the top before, and a similar looking wifi icon was NEVER used before Apple "invented" it. The only thing they have in common in both UI and colors is the primary colors of the default wallpaper. Well holy crap, someone call Jobs, they're ripping him off!

    Personally, I can't stand Apple. The only product I ever liked was the iPod Touch, but it's still outrageously overpriced. Furthermore, I don't know what everybody's saying about usability, because I. CAN'T. STAND. IT. I mean, seriously? If I want to use my mouse and have a window in the bottom right corner, I really have to travel alllll the way across my desktop to the top left corner just to go to the file menu? Pathetic.

    Quit being so vain.

  48. There are plenty of ways to get EXACT mac look-alike themes in GTK.

    Still, I don't like the new ubuntu look. The buttons are wrong, and grey just doesn't cut it.

    I wish they would go for a deep brown.

    Not that I'd use it, I change everything to black as soon as I can, but still.

  49. Why do ppl worry abt sm thing so silly like the default looks???
    anyway we all will change the wallpaper just as we install the distro.....and maybe the colour scheme as well.....really babyish of to complain sm thing like this....

  50. Ummmm, didn't Apple 'borrow' extensively from, uhhh, BSD and a number of other 'Linux' and Open Source' Concepts, just to get back in the game?

    Some peoples children ...

  51. you can just flip the buttons back to the right side with iconf can't u?

  52. Gnome has always had close ties to Mac's operating systems - the panels in Gnome are similar to those found in Mac OS 9.

    Naming the latest version of Ubuntu "Lynx" is kind of Apple-ish - Quoted from the Mac OS X page on Wikipedia: "Apple has also registered 'Lynx' and 'Cougar' as trademarks, though these were allowed to lapse." (

  53. AnonymousMay 01, 2010

    I really like where Shuttleworth is taking Ubuntu, but this is a Walmart clone of OSX. I *HATE* Apple, but have to give props in their attention to detail. I have faith that the free software community can do *Better* and pay attention to the same details in our own way. So please let us not succumb to this. The default theme does matter as it reflects the ideas of the developers and the community as a whole. I could totally defend Ubuntu before, and still will do the same *AS LONG AS WE HAVE OUR OWN IDENTITY* And this is NOT it!!!!

  54. AnonymousMay 02, 2010

    Pretty Lame Article but if your goal was attention you got it.

  55. OS X is great. I'm sticking with that until Ubuntu or any other distro drops having to dip into the beard terminal/add repository style stuff and gets a consistent UI.

    Congrats to Ubuntu for moving in the right direction. I'm liking what I see with each new release.

  56. Ubuntu looks like something a talented high school student would turn in for a project. Opensuse looks like it was created by professionals.

  57. It's not good way to mimic other OS... Now you can take Win7-like Kubuntu or OSX-like Ubuntu;p

    However, for me it's not big deal, one of the first things I do on freshly installed OS is to change its look. So my Ubuntu doesn't look neither like Win7 nor OSX but just like... my Ubuntu!

  58. Apparently, there's someone/others that complaining why linux doesn't have features like windows. And the stupidest thing is that person even wrote "most brands of Linux don't even have a start menu. On Linux Mint it is a bit easier because their start menu looks like Windows".

    In my point of views, Linux is Linux so why should Linux have to had a start menu like in windows.

    So, this might answer your question about Linux looks like mimicking other OS. It's not that Linux want/purposely mimicking Windows or MacOS but the end-user that want it that way.

  59. Not only that, many people also hoping that they can install windows apps/games in Linux, doesn't that means they also hoping Linux to mimicking Windows?? If not, they wouldn't ask something like this because they should already know that Linux is different from windows.

  60. AnonymousMay 20, 2011

    I remember the earlier versions of ubuntu. The user interface was kind of on its own, and it was unique. They're using the terms "Apps" and making it look very similar. The newest version of ubuntu 11.05 has a launcher and "Apps" that looks way too much like the Macintosh OS. I personally don't like it and i'd rather it be back to the way it used to be like in version 9.04 and 9.10.

  61. AnonymousJuly 23, 2011

    Why does it matter?
    Ubuntu is free anyway so I doubt Apple can sue...

  62. Not more than Amiga Os resemble Mac OS

  63. It's terrible. Apple fanboyism is destroying Ubuntu.

  64. Flash forward to Unity. Global menu, dock, and even the fade out transition when you make a selection on the desktop.