This weekend finally took the time to upgrade Windows 7 on my old laptop to the free Windows 10 download.
Was surprised, that was an old laptop from 2009 with the stock Windows 7 version and it worked. Have to say that the new interface is indeed good looking and simple. Really enjoyable, but the fact it beams up to Microsoft whatever I'm doing with this laptop is still a bother.
On my work laptop I run Linux Mint. Old version from 2013 that could really use an update. So, decided to simply go ahead and bring up the Linux machine to a more recent version and see what had changed over the past two years. While doing this upgrade kept asking myself "how about adding some of the simplicity of Windows 10 on the mix?"
And this is the result:
This is not an exact look-a-like, but (in my opinion) tried to mix and get a relatively good result on Windows, without forcefully opening hand from your privacy.
I've started with Linux Mint 17.2 (Cinnamon edition for x64) downloaded from http://www.linuxmint...tion.php?id=197
Instead of installing to disk, this time I've installed and run the operating system from a MicroSD card connected to the laptop through the SD reader using an SD adapter. The MicroSD is a Samsung 64Gb with advertised speed of 40Mb/s for read operations. Cost was ~30 EUR.
Installing the operating system followed the same routine steps as one expected. There is a GUI tool from within Linux mint to write the DVD ISO into a pendisk connected on your laptop. Then boot from the USB and install the operating system on the MicroSD, having the boot entry added automatically.
Window 10 theme and icons
Having the new operating system running, starts the customization.
Windows style can be used from here: http://gnome-look.or...?content=171327
It comes with icons that look exactly like Windows 10, but wasn't looking balanced. Found instead an alternative as Sigma Metro: http://gnome-look.or...?content=167327
If you look around the web, you'll find how to change the window themes and icons.
Firefox update and customization
Install Ubuntu Tweaks. From there, go to Apps and install the most recent edition of Firefox because the one included on the distro is a bit old.
Start changing Firefox, open it up and go to "Addons" -> "Get Addons". Type on the search box "Simple White Compact", this was the theme that I found the simplest and it will change everything on the browser, from icons to tab position. Other extensions you might enjoy are "Adblock Plus" to remove ads, "Tab Scope" to show miniatures when browsing tabs and "Youtube ALL HTML5" to force youtube running without using the flash player.
Office alternative and customization
Then comes to Office. I only keep the old laptop because it has the Adobe Reader (that I use for signing PDF documents) and Microsoft Office when I need to modify documents and presentations without getting them to look broken. So, I was prepared to run both these apps using Wine (it is possible) but decided to first update and try using only Linux native apps. Was not badly surprised.
LibreOffice 4.x is included by default on the distro and was always displaying badly a set of powerpoint slides that I need to change with some frequency. To my surprise, when trying version 5.x those issues are gone. Both the slides and word documents are now displayed with just about what I'd expected from Microsoft office.
To install LibreOffice 5.x visit https://www.libreoff...reoffice-fresh/
For the Linux edition, read the text document with instructions. Quite straightforward. So, I was happy with LibreOffice as a complete replacement to Microsoft (no need to acquire license nor run office through Wine). However, those icons still didn't look good. Again on this aspect Microsoft simply "looks" better and I wanted LibreOffice to look that way too. So, got icons from here: http://gnome-look.or...?content=167958
It wasn't straightforward to find out where the icons could be placed because the instructions for version 4.x no longer apply. To help you, the zip file with icons need to be placed inside:
Then you can open up "writer" and from the "Tools" -> "Options" -> "View" choose "Office2013" and get the new icons being used. The startup logo of LibreOffice also seemed too flashy and could be changed. So I've changed with the one available at http://gnome-look.or...?content=166590
Just a matter of overwriting the png image found at
Alternative to Adobe Reader for signing PDF
Every now and then comes a PDF that requires being printed, signed by a pen and then scanned. I stopped doing this some time ago by adding a digital signature that includes an image of my handwritten signature on the document. This way, no need to print nor scan any papers. Adobe Reader did a good work on this task but getting it to run on Wine with the signature function was not simple.
Started looking a native Linux alternative and found "Master PDF Editor". The code for this software is not public but at least they provide a native Linux install that supports digital handwritten signatures: https://code-industr...asterpdfeditor/
If you're using it for business, you need to acquire a license. Just for home-usage, you can use it free of cost. Just head out to the download page and install the app. I was surprised because it looked very simple and customizable. Having LibreOffice and MasterPDF as alternative to MS Office and Acrobat, there is no more valid reason (on my case) to switch back the old laptop whenever editing documents. Can be done with same quality from Linux now.
A relevant part of the day-to-day involves in my case to use the command line. In Linux it is usually a very pleasant task because it can be adjusted, customized and doesn't ever feel like a second class citizen on the desktop environment. With the recent changes, was possible to improve it by showing the tool bar. Open a terminal, "View" -> "Show tool bar". Usually I'm against buttons, but the tool bar has button for pasting code directly onto the console. I know that I can do "Ctrl '+ Shift + V", but it also practical to just use the button and mouse.
There are tweaks only possible on Linux. One of my favorite keeps being the "Woobly windows". Enable Compiz on the default desktop environment: http://askubuntu.com...-wobbly-windows
With Compiz there are many tweaks possible, I've kept them to a minimum but certainly is refreshing to use some features rather than the plain window frames.
Many of my friends use Skype. I'd prefer to use a non-Microsoft service because the client gets installed on my computer and who knows what it is doing, so we'd end up losing privacy by just installing that client. One interesting alternative that I've found was launching the web-edition of skype that you find at https://web.skype.com/
From firefox, there is the option to "Pin" a given tab. So I've pinned skype and now it gets open automatically whenever the browser gets open, in practice bringing it online when I want to be reachable. A safe desktop client and alternative would be better, still this was the compromise that felt possible on my case.
There were other small tweaks happening to adjust for my case, but above were described the big blocks to help you reach a similar desktop. If you have any questions or get stuck, just let me know.