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I have an ancient Mac that I'm looking at wiping when Lion support goes the way of the dinosaur. I still like the idea of keeping it as Mac-like as possible.

Are there any Linux distros that mimic to a very large degree OS X functionality? Interface bears more importance than under the hood development.

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    Since its a mac, what processor? If its a PPC model, your needs are going to be VERY different. You can also, reasonably simply hack together a mac-like theme off a basic cli only install. – Journeyman Geek Feb 10 '14 at 7:25
  • I think that the real question is "which DE/WM is similar to OS X's". – Braiam Apr 2 '14 at 23:21
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EDIT: Clementine OS is now long dead. Please disregard this answer, and use eOS or something instead.


Clementine OS aims to be as similar as possible to Mac OSX -- it boasts many of the same features, such as expose, and is visually almost the same. It comes from a now discontinued (sold) project called Pear Linux and has an interface virtually identical to that of Apple. Here is a screenshot:

Clementine OS UI

If you just want an Apple-like interface, I think I will go so far as to say that Clementine OS is perfect -- Oops! I just did --, although you may not like the Mavericks-style.

Under the hood, it is based on Ubuntu, so it is nice and stable and has a lot of available packages.

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    Clementine OS is no longer available. The German website heise.de posted this headline today: heise.de – Irgendw Pointer Feb 7 '14 at 12:34
  • You can still use the themes and programs on Ubuntu, though. I expect. – MadTux Feb 7 '14 at 14:44
  • Screen-shoots present Pear OS Linux which is also unavailable nowadays. – danijelc Feb 10 '14 at 1:48
  • hmmmm, looks more like a parody (imho) – Display Name Mar 27 '14 at 17:36
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    It seems that Clementine Linux is no longer active and the download link is broken (I was unable to find an updated link) – Tom Jan 7 '16 at 1:03
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Elementary Luna OS aims to be as "Mac-like" as possible. It's built for usability and to visually look like Mac OS X.

Elementary Luna OS UI
Click to view in higher resolution

Etoile is a Linux distro aimed at using the GNUStep project to do system tasks, thus allowing a vaguely similar programming environment to Cocoa. While more similar to NextStep in terms of visual style, it will have some familiarity from a programming perspective.

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  • I don't understand why people says that elementary is looking like mac. What is common in between mac and elementary? Is a dock all about being like Mac OS X? – niyasc Mar 27 '15 at 11:55
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When I first got my MacBook Pro at the end of last year, I thought its UI was very similar to Unity (the default desktop environment in Ubuntu). Now, Unity is not 100% like Mac, but I think it's very close in many ways, especially when compared with most other distros. The top menu bar, the dock, the Settings app, etc. Here's a screenshot:

Unity screenshot

(I took the screenshot on my Retina display MacBook Pro, and unfortunately, Unity currently doesn't support HiDPI displays yet, so things look a little out of proportion. But I'm hoping that come 14.04 LTS release time, this will have ironed itself out.)

Here's another screenshot, showing the top menu:

Showing the top menu

The top menu style is quite reminiscent of the Mac UI, but with two differences:

  1. There is no Apple menu.
  2. The Alt-Tab task switcher is still window-centric (though windows are grouped by their owning application), not application-centric. This probably won't make a huge difference to you unless you're wedded to the "every application is basically MDI" aspect of the Mac UI.

Update: My boss tells me that Ubuntu 14.04 now does support HiDPI displays! Here's a screenshot of Unity (with Firefox 29 beta, that also supports HiDPI) running on his MacBook Pro 15 with Retina:

Yay, Ubuntu 14.04 has HiDPI support!

(I'll get around to updating the other screenshots soon.)

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