Theming in MATE tweak tool regarding Cupertino / MAC OSX

Hello guys, I hope this is the right forum to post this question? I have recently installed Ubuntu Mate 16.04 beta 2 on to my main desktop PC and have been trying to do a little evangelism for Linux with my family. My sister and her children have recently visited and they were impressed with the desktop that I was running as it was different than Windows and OSX that they run at home. My nieces statement was that it looked futuristic with the space theme. :slight_smile:

Now they are MAC users and I wanted to help them navigate the OS easier so I switched to Cupertino in the MATE tweak tool. However they were not that impressed. Other than the dock at the bottom of the screen the interface is not that similar.

They were a little frustrated initially that the task bar buttons were on the ‘wrong side’ of the window and that the menu was inside of the active window and not at the top of the screen.

Now I noticed after trying ‘Mutiny’ that there is the old school global menu from Ubuntu 10.10 and earlier.

My suggestion is (if possible) that when a user selects Cupertino as the desktop selection that you default the windows controls to the left and use the global menu as in Mutiny. I think this would make a much better first impression to users coming from a MAC. It is the little things like this that go a long way and familiarity of interface is a big selling point for potential converts.

Anyway that is my suggestion, I hope that you give it some consideration, I do feel it would help users coming over from the Apple world.

Kind regards,



You got the right forum for the question, thanks for sharing your feedback. :slight_smile:

As far as I’m aware, Cupertino is just an alternate layout that makes use of a dock instead of a bottom panel for apps, it isn’t strictly designed to be a OS X “lookalike”, although I do agree with your suggestions that it could be.

But, with MATE you can customize an awful lot yourself quite easily:

  • Remove the “Applications… Places… System” menu bar with “Main Menu”.
  • Add the global menu applet to the top panel.
  • Change the window buttons to the left. The option is in MATE Tweak → Windows tab → “Window control placement”
  • Change the icon and themes if you like. Here’s one from the community:
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Hey, @lah7, good answer from a great guy! :joy:

Oh, and P.S. (some friendly ventilating, pointing to no one), in spite of all wholly and equally valid concerns, we must remain cognizant of the fact that the majority of other folks, here, pretty much adore the lion’s share of our offerings the way they are - just as they stand (with normal modernization, of course).

There is a reason why Cupertino and other legendary UMATE, goodies are so popular, in tandem with UMATE; and it is because it all works together to be MAGIC-MATE. Like me, some faithful users have even spent months of their lives looking for, exactly, what is already in place here! :stuck_out_tongue:

With the utmost of respect and goodwill, may I suggest the concept of, instead, “adding” these great new things - versus - an out of nowhere proposal for “changing” the the great stuff we already covet. :astonished:

The hard work, talent, and dedication is very evident in UMATE 16.04; and I am not alone in feeling that it is the best OS experience, anywhere & ever, to date!

If anyone wants more themes other than the installed defaults, I recommend this website, easy for beginners to get their heads around too, just add the Noobslab PPA and add the theme you want!:


Hello guys,

Thank you for your suggestions, perhaps I was a little mistaken with the concept of the OS theming in the MATE tweak tool. I thought the purpose was to make it easier for users of other operating systems (in this case OSX) to use Ubuntu MATE for the first time, to lower their ‘barrier to entry’ if you like. And this was done by broadly following the windows decorations, panel layout etc of the chosen OS from the selections available.

If the only difference is to put the Plank dock at the bottom of the screen then that is fine, I misunderstood what was attempting to be accomplished. I just assumed Cupertino meant that the interface would work similarly to OSX. I do however think that there is a missed opportunity to make a new Ubuntu MATE user feel more comfortable in the short term. I have used Desktop Linux for many years and I would be comfortable changing panels and and button layouts as a lot of other people here would. But for a certain class of user such as a 11 year old girl who has only used OSX and Windows at school would have no idea what Lah7 means (thank you very much by the way!) Good default choices are crucial.

But, with MATE you can customize an awful lot yourself quite easily:

Remove the “Applications… Places… System” menu bar with “Main Menu”.
Add the global menu applet to the top panel.
Change the window buttons to the left. The option is in MATE Tweak → Windows tab → “Window control placement”
Change the icon and themes if you like. Here’s one from the community:

I respect what has been accomplished with Ubuntu MATE, heck if I didn’t I wouldn’t be trying to show off this desktop to other people. I’m not suggesting to copy every detail but if you have a selection called Cupertino then perhaps a few sane panel and choices would help a user coming from OSX.

Anyway thank you very much and I appreciate all the hard work put in by the developers of this project!

Kind regards,



Hi James,

just a small tip for you in case you aren't aware of it, open the Control Centre > Appearance > select the desired theme and then press the "Customise" button and you can further alter the look and feel of any theme in the list!. :smiley:

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Hi Wolman,

Thank you for the information, I did realise that you can change the appearance settings and I do use a lighter theme in general. But the question I am asking is if MATE could more closely match the OSX decorations by default for the Cupertino option in the MATE tweak tool. By that I mean that the window control buttons default to the left and that the global menu applet is loaded when Cupertino is selected.

Of course having a dock at the bottom does bring the desktop environment closer to the ‘real’ OSX but it is only a dock at the bottom of the screen. I just think that changing a couple of things would help users who are more familiar with MAC computers and it lowers the barrier of entry if you wanted to help people switch. You don’t need to slavishly copy the colours in OSX etc, but a few changes would help new users coming to Ubuntu MATE from OSX.

Best regards,


H iJames,

you can remove the bottom panel anytime you like and use either Plank (pre-installed in Ubuntu Mate) or Docky (I don’t know if Docky works well with the Mate DE as I have never tried it!).

To move buttons to the left, use Dconf Editor, just swap the order around:

Top panel > Applications > System Tools > Dconf Editor > Org > Mate > Desktop > Interface > gtk-decoration-layout and change this:


to this:


Or from MATE Tweak, under the Interface tab:

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Thanks @lah7,

I didn’t even think about that as I never use the tweak tool! (still old school stuff for me I guess!). :smiley:

@ lah7 @ wolfman

Thanks for the suggestions I appreciate you both taking an interest in this discussion! I did notice that you can move the buttons to the left in MATE Tweak as it is underneath the selection for Cupertino. This really goes to my point, if Cupertino is supposed to be an approximation of OSX on Ubuntu MATE then wouldn’t it be a good idea that selections like this are actually made the default? So a MAC user coming to MATE for the first time won’t have to make selections like this but rather choose a single option and the desktop broadly acts like OSX?

A few changes like this would go a long way, if the purpose of the of the OS Theming in MATE Tweak is to approximate other desktop workflows then there could be some valuable improvements made and I would imagine with not a great deal of development work.

If the purpose of Cupertino is just to add Plank to the bottom of the screen then that’s also fine but it is not an approximation of OSX and the name ‘Cupertino’ is confusing in my opinion. Maybe I’m a litle OCD here but I see an opportunity to help new users coming to MATE that would make their first experiences a little easier.

Does anyone remember a distro called Xandros? When you loaded it for the first time there was a start scrren that asked how you wanted to interface with the system and there was a selection of panels like MS Windows, MAC OSX and a default Linux desktop. I thought that was really useful.

Even something like this in the MATE introduction information that loads as a possible choice could be useful for some. You are only helping rather than hindering new users of MATE.

With many new people coming to MATE due to the Raspberry PI (especially with the 16.04 release imminent) I see this as a benefit also as there will be those that are eager to try the the OS but perhaps never had much desktop Linux experience.

Is there a mechanism for suggesting this as a potential option to the developers of MATE?

Thanks once again guys,


Hi James,

I think you have to bear in mind that if someone made a Linux version of the Apple desktop theme (as an example), there would be all sorts of law suits due to copyright infringement heading their way, it is up to each person to decide how the desktop should look and as you well know, you can’t please everybody all the time. :smiley:

Ubuntu Mate most likely offers more desktop themes than most Linux distro’s and you could add another 20 or 30 and someone would still say can you include “blah” in the next release!.

I do remember Xandros and it was a nice OS, I also used Pear Linux for a while and the rumour there is that a certain company bought him out because it looked remarkably like a certain OS whose named dare not be mentioned here!. :smiley:

Something from the rumour kitchen:

If you want to contact the devs, just PM them and I am sure they will be able to tell you what can or cannot be done. :smiley:

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Hi Wolfman,

Again, I appreciate you taking the time to respond and you make some very valid points. I think that MATE is very good in the selection of desktop like themes available. And I agree that different people have different points of view. But I would suggest that a new user of MATE has probable come from another ‘easier to use’ distro like Ubunt standard edition, Windows or MAC OSX. So there is not really a need for many additional themes that you mentioned. And I am not suggesting to slavishly copy the colouring, decorations etc but rather the windows control location etc. Ubuntu with Unity has the buttons on the left hand side for example.

I use Ubuntu MATE precisely because it is a very good user focused distro with sane defaults and understanding of the audience it targets and I think a few changes would go help new users. Looking at the experience of my niece she was confused because her expectation was that the desktop would work like the MAC she uses at home. But some parts are alike such as the dock but other parts are different and it is inconsistent with calling the theme Cupertino.

I will probably send a link to this thread to the devs you mentioned. Thanks for all the valid points you made.


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Hi James,

I am not sure how much of Ubuntu Mate you have looked at yet but one of the new features is the “Welcome” app, it was developed by the devs on the Ubuntu Mate forum, maybe some of what you suggest could be integrated with that, it has many functions and I don’t think that adding another like you suggest would be a biggy, that is obviously up to the devs of course!. :smiley:

Top panel > System > Welcome > Getting started > Customization is but one of the many functions . :smiley:

Thank you, @wolfman; finely some sanity! :joy:

P.S Just to keep things on target, I have no recollection of anything but dozens of positive reviews on our beloved theme, at issue; this discussion orbits the sole bummer. :scream:

I’m getting the impression there was simply a tad of confusion - as to what the original intention of this tweak was in the first place. :innocent:

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I’m listening :ear: – One thing to ensure is clear is that there are:

  • MATE developers - they work on the desktop used on many distros, like this one.
  • Ubuntu MATE developers - who maintain the distro (including MATE Tweak) and could change this layout.

I did ask @Wimpy when this thread started and he responded that Cupertino won’t be changing. With 16.04 very close to release, I imagine this is because it’s an unexpected change to make for most users.

I would see problems when switching to a different theme causes the button controls to unexpectedly move – I use the default layout, but my buttons are on the left (similar to Ubuntu 11.04), so it may become a “Why is it changing that when I didn’t tell it to?” type of thing. :confused:

But most importantly, there is nothing stopping users to tweak it to look like OS X. Personally, I’d encourage new users to get familiar with new environments, as much as old habits can be hard to break. :slight_smile:

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And I been listening too :smiley:

Maybe this would make a better discussion in the 16.10 cycle.

Myself, I feel that people new to linux will like the osx look, but then its just a look (theme) and will not function like osx. People will then ask for more osx like functions on a non-osx base. I think this has happen to Zorin (a linux/window look-a-like system), which offers a environment more eye friendly to window users.

So in my eyes, a osx theme is just a spoof and new users will after a few minutes realize this. Creating disappointment…


Hi all,

Thanks for further info, I just wanted to make it clear that I am not criticising the work that has been done, on the contrary I think Ubuntu MATE is a fantastic distribution and I wouldn’t take the time to write if I didn’t care.

The point I am making is that having a familiar desktop environment initially is a help for new users and having something that is about half way there causes some confusion.

Of course Ubuntu MATE is not OSX or Windows but being able to optionally, and that is the key point optionally use a panel layout, system menu like what you are familiar with goes a long way.

I think that perhaps some people might expect more and be disappointed but there will be more that are thankful they have a starting point. If you have used a system for many years you don’t really think about how new users look at things. It was mentioned earlier about Zorin and I think that is good for users looking for a Windows like interface. I think people know it is not Microsoft but it gives a starting point…

Similar with some Apple users that have never experienced desktop Linux before a familiar OSX interface is helpful. It comes down to muscle memory for many. And this could help bring even more people to Ubuntu MATE.

If desktop Linux continues to grow then it will be taking users away from Windows and OSX and it would help to make this as easy as possible.

To a previous point I wrote earlier if the purpose of the desktop interfaces choices is not about trying to replicate an experience then I am just mistaken. Because I genuinely expected that having an option called Cupertino would make the system interface work like OSX and perhaps others do too.

Thank you all for the hard work you put in to this distro and I appreciate the hard work of those that make this project what it is.



Hi James,

the point you make above is exactly what I mentioned about copyright infringement earlier, if someone was to create an exact copy of the OSX theme, Apple would kick them all the way to China using a lawsuit of unprecedented proportions!. :smiley:

There are 100’s if not thousands of themes available out there, you just need to look around, sites like the following are there for your inspection:

You just need to make sure that the theme you are installing works with the desktop you have installed!. :smiley:

Hi Wolfman,

It is a good point that you make, but I don’t think this suggestion is about trying to slavishly copy the look of OSX. It is just about making the workflow similar for new users by making a few useful changes, like move the Windows controls by default when the Cupertino option is chosen and use the global menu.

It is not about changing the look of the theme, but rather only adding minimal amendments to an interface option that already exists with the shipping Ubuntu MATE distribution.

The default interface to MATE is not Cupertino and I never expect it will be. It is just for those that are looking for a similar interface initially.

If the Redmond option is chosen the panel moves to the bottom like in Windows with a ‘Start Menu.’ By that rational Microsoft could sue so this should be removed?

Ubuntu have their Windows controls on the left hand side of a window and use a global menu.

This proposal is only about making new users more comfortable by providing a similar (not identical) interface that is not default of an optional interface choice.

Best regards,