Brief: This article lists some macOS lookalike Linux distributions. The comparison here is based on similarity to macOS in looks and functioning.
Now, not everyone can afford or would want to buy a MacBook just to use macOS. You could go for a Hackintosh but that would mean ditching Linux, something a Linux lover like me wouldn’t do.
The good thing about Linux is that it has endless possibilities. When it comes to tweaking its looks, you can do wonders. Imagine making Ubuntu look like MacOS. It’s totally possible.
But why bother just tweaking when you have Linux distributions that imitate or take inspiration from the looks of macOS? Yes, there are several macOS lookalike Linux distributions, and in this article I’m going to list them for you.
This is the last in our series of look-specific Linux distributions. The others are:
Linux distributions that are inspired by MacOS
Before I show you the macOS-inspired Linux distributions, I’d like to mention Pear OS.
If you’ve been keeping up with Linux for the last 4 years, you might have heard of Pear OS. To put it simply, this was the macOS of the Linux world. Its logo was a bitten pear. It had its own Pear Cloud, Contacts, Music app, color profile, search, etc., everything along the same lines as Apple’s macOS.
But 3 years back, Pear OS suddenly announced its demise. Apparently, it was bought by an anonymous big enterprise.
Pear OS aside, we still have a few Linux distributions that are macOS lookalikes or inspired by macOS. Let’s see them.
Note: This list is not a ranking – it’s not in any particular order.
1. elementary OS
No matter how much the elementary OS team denies it, there are resemblances to macOS everywhere. It’s clearly inspired by macOS.
The bottom plank is not the only thing that you’ll recognize from macOS. Look at Geary, Photos, Scratch and the other apps. They have a Mac feel despite being so elementary-ish.
In fact, being inspired by macOS was kind of a boon for elementary OS. Do keep in mind that they’re not just putting a MacOS-looking theme on top of Ubuntu. They’re doing some serious work to give the entire OS an elementary feel.
As well as the Pantheon desktop environment that they developed from scratch, this effort is quite visible in the applications they’ve forked. It’s an ecosystem where everything is created aesthetically.
elementary OS is quite protective of their ecosystem and hence they have strict guidelines for app developers so they can designapps that would fit in well with the elementary OS environment.
Another plus point about elementary OS is that it’s a widely used distribution. This means that you won’t end up with a Linux spin that’s rather unknown and not be able to find support and help easily.
If you want a version of Linux that has a Mac feel but provides great community support, elementary OS should be your first choice.
2. Deepin Linux
After elementary OS, Deepin Linux could be the distro of your choice if you want your Linux to look like macOS.
Deepin Linux was initially based on Ubuntu but it now uses Debian as its base. They’ve created their own desktop environment along with a range of other Deepin-specific applications that blend perfectly to give you an aesthetic feel. As you can see in the video above, Deepin Linux is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful Linux distributions ever.
The Deepin team is based in China and their primary target is a Chinese audience, so some of their applications are not available in other languages. This is an area where they can certainly improve.
3. BackSlash Linux
BackSlash Linux is a relatively new and unknown entrant to the Linux distribution world. If looks are the most important thing for you, BackSlash Linux does a marvelous job of imitating the looks of macOS.
It also provides icons similar to macOS. You can maybe even consider it a Linux clone of macOS.
It’s based on Ubuntu and follows a similar release cycle. While it’s available as a free download, you also have the option to buy support.
4. Gmac Linux
Gmac is short for GNOME + Mac. Unlike the above-mentioned macOS lookalike Linux distributions, Gmac is not a full-fledged distribution. It’s simply the GNOME desktop with a Mac theme.
That means you get Ubuntu Linux with a heavily customized GNOME desktop environment that looks a lot like macOS. It also means that you won’t have to do all the customization all by yourself to make Ubuntu look like MacOS. Gmac already does it for you. Plus you get to keep your Ubuntu distribution.
The one weird thing about Gmac Linux is that weird logo that’s a mix of the GNOME and Apple logos.
5. Trenta OS [Under Development]
There’s not enough information available about Trenta OS at this time. It’s under development and hasn’t even reached the beta stage.
From what I could surmise from their website, blog and social media accounts, it’s based on Ubuntu and uses the GNOME desktop environment.
The focus is on looks and UI. The Rainier icon theme that imitates macOS icons is the main USP here.
The terminal and some other regular applications are also tweaked to make it look like macOS.
Of course, It’s FOSS will cover the news when the final version comes out :)
Macpup [Unsure of development]
Puppy Linux is one of the best lightweight Linux distributions for older computers. This would make Macpup a good option for you if you have a 15-to-20-year-old computer.
There’s one problem with it, though. Its latest release is based on Precise Puppy 5.5.0, which is based on Ubuntu 12.04. In a few months, support for this version will end.
Moreover, I’m not sure if Macpup is being actively developed either. Their forum is an abandoned place and their website doesn’t seem to have been updated in over a year.
For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend that you use it. Additionally, I didn’t even find it that close to macOS in looks. Maybe back in 2012 it might have looked like macOS, but not anymore.
Apricity OS [Discontinued]
Apricity OS is one of my favorite Arch-based Linux distributions. You could maybe call it a cloud-centric Linux distribution. Though its first stable version was released only a few months ago, it’s already gathered a good userbase.
Apricity OS may not be exactly like macOS but it does have a slightly similar feel. Its GNOME based clean user interface and beautiful icon themes make it a stunning looking Linux distribution.
MacOS lookalike or not, if one day you want to switch to the ‘Arch domain’, do consider Apricity OS among your options.
While obsessing over the macOS look is one thing, you’ll have to accept that Apple does have a good sense of design. And somehow it influences other projects. To be honest, I feel that Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment takes a lot of inspiration from macOS.
What do you think of Linux distributions that look like macOS? Are they pointless or are they simply trying to provide a good UI to end users? What’s your opinion on them?