There are a lot of things to like about Chrome OS, but perhaps the best thing is the way it looks. Everything is neat, clean, and has a good sense of design. If you like the way Google’s operating system looks, but have reservations owning a Computer entirely owned by Google, there is another way to get the same UI on Linux; consider making Linux look like Chrome OS instead!
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
This might seem a bit silly but there are actual benefits to doing this. For starters, you’ll get the neat material design without sacrificing privacy, spending money and etc. And best of all, because your “Chromebook” runs Linux, you’ll be able to use real programs, and not Android apps and Chrome “apps”.
Choosing A Desktop Environment
Chrome OS is a light-weight operating system designed to run on Laptops and PC’s with as little as 2 GB of RAM. Despite this, the desktop itself is very modern. There are lots of slick visual effects, animations, and an overall modern look. Keep all this in mind when trying to replicate the Chrome OS feel on your own Linux distribution.
There are many different desktop environments to choose from for this theme. With that said, users should consider using the Cinnamon desktop environment as a starting point. The main reason is that it has similar animation effects, and an overall modern design much like Chrome OS.
Keep in mind that even though Cinnamon is probably the best choice, other lightweight desktop environments can work with this theme as well. Just be sure to follow the guide to enable window compositing via Compton, for animation effects.
Install Chrome OS GTK Theme
The first step in converting a regular Linux desktop into something that looks very similar to Google’s Chrome OS is applying the overall desktop theme. Out of all the aspects of customizing a desktop environment, the GTK theme is the most important. Getting this theme requires the Git tool. To get this program, open up a terminal and enter the following:
sudo apt install git
sudo apt-get install git
sudo pacman -S git
sudo dnf install git
sudo zypper install git
Is your Linux distribution not on the list above? Not to worry! Git is available on pretty much any Linux distribution. To install it, open up your package manager or software center, and search for “git”.
With the Git tool installed, use it to grab the latest version of the Google Chrome OS GTK theme.
git clone https://github.com/B00merang-Project/Chrome-OS.git
When the command finishes fetching all of the theme files, you’ll be able to install it to the system. To make the Google Chrome OS theme available for all Linux users, do:
sudo mv Chrome-OS /usr/share/themes/
If you’d just like to make the theme available for one user, consider installing it into the ~/.themes directory in your home folder instead. Please keep in mind that going this route means that the theme will need to be installed each time for every user that wants to use it.
mkdir ~/.themes mv Chrome-OS ~/.themes
After the theme installation is finished, the next step is to apply the theme to the desktop environment you’re using. The B00merang Chrome OS theme is currently supported by modern desktop environments on Linux, especially if they support GTK3. Each desktop environment on the Linux platform is a little different, and each of the cosmetic options are in different places, so it’d be incredibly tedious to go over how to apply the theme several times. Instead, check the list below, and select the desktop environment that you use.
Install Icon Theme
Along with the GTK theme, the icon theme is just as important. Often times a good Linux theme can hit all the right notes, but still look off if there isno good icon theme to compliment it.
There are many different Google inspired, material icon sets for Linux. The best theme, by far, however is the Papirus icon theme. The reason to go with this theme is simple: it’s the most complete icon theme. It covers the many different programs that Linux has to offer, and even allows users to choose between separate versions of the theme (Papirus Adapta, ePapirus, Papirus and etc) on the fly.
Installing this icon them can be done in several ways, as a lot of Linux distributions have embraced it. There are PPAs for Ubuntu, RPMs for SUSE/Fedora, and it’s even featured in the Arch Linux community repository. That said, the most universal way to install it without leaving any distro out is to simply run this command in the terminal:
sudo wget -qO- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/PapirusDevelopmentTeam/papirus-icon-theme/master/install-papirus-root.sh | sh
Running the above command doesn’t download the theme directly. Instead, it runs the official Papirus icon theme installation tool. It’ll automatically download the latest version of the icons, delete the old version (if there are any on your system) and place everything neatly in the /usr/share/icons/ directory.
After the script is complete, simply go to the Appearance settings in your Linux desktop to apply the icons.