Make Ubuntu or FreeBSD look like OSX

Installing the Aurora Leopard BSM Theme

The Aurora Leopard BSM Theme provides a beautiful, minimalistic appearance. This is how it looks like:


First we have to install the GTK engine. The steps to take:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libgtk2.0-dev gconf-editor
wget http://gnome-look.org/CONTENT/content-files/56438-aurora-1.5.1.tar.bz2
tar -xvjf 56438-aurora-1.5.1.tar.bz2
tar xvzf aurora-gtk-engine-1.5.tar.gz
cd aurora-1.5
./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-animation
sudo make install


On FreeBSD, install the devel/glib20 and the aurora port instead:
sudo portmaster devel/glib20 x11-themes/gtk-aurora-engine

Both OS: drag the theme

Now we can install the theme, by downloading it from here. Save it to the desktop, then open System->Preferences->Appearance, and drag&drop the downloaded file to this window. Ubuntu will install the theme for us.

Looks a bit like OSX? Indeed it does. To go one step further,  we can change the order of the buttons too (this is a copy from here):
1 - Press "Alt + F2"
2 - Type "gconf-editor" and press "Enter"
3 - Browse to "Apps -> metacity -> general"
4 - On right panel, double click on "button_layout"
5 - Change the value to "close,minimize,maximize:menu"
6 - Press "OK"

Now we have the chance to install their icon-libraries. I ended up using a built-in icon library instead. This is how it looks like:

To install it on Ubuntu:
sudo apt-get install gnome-human-icon-theme
Or, here's a nice one for FreeBSD:
sudo portmaster /usr/ports/x11-themes/gnome-icons-dropline-neu

Now if you click "Customize" under System->Preferences->Appearance->Aurora Leopard BSM, under the Icons tab you'll find GNOME-Human (or Dropline...)

One more thing. You can use the (already enabled by default) desktop effects if you like, but after a while it can become disturbing, so I usually disable it under System->Preferences->Appearance->Visual Effects (not to mention that Desktop Effects still have some compatibilty issues, if I'm not mistaken Google Earth didn't like it).

Still, compositing makes the user-interface snappier; if you go back to gconf-editor, at the same place where you've had the button_layout (apps->metacity->general), you can enable the compositing_manager by checking it. This is the setting I've found the most performing; let me know if you think otherwise or if you've found some other hacks!

Hope you like it! Cheers!


  1. I translated the article on the mighty Russian language: link.

  2. updated the post to include the necessary extra step for FreeBSD