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Make Linux look like Amiga OS
(Or, at least, pretty gosh darn close.)
I mean, if we’re going to go through the trouble of making a Linux desktop look like a classic computer systems… it would be heresy to not include the Amiga!
What follows are the best options that I’ve found to achieve exactly that goal
We’ll be starting with XFCE as our default desktop — XFCE is sort of the gold standard for making your desktop look like older systems. If you’re following along at home, I highly recommend installing XFCE before we get started. You can use pretty much any Linux distribution you like.
The Window borders and decorators
To start with, let’s make those window borders look like actual Amiga window borders.
Grab “Amiga OS Themes for XFCE (XFWM4)”. The creator of that window manager theme has done an excellent job of recreating both the Amiga 1.3 and 3.0 looks.
This is the Amiga 1.3 theme:
And this is the Amiga 3.0 theme:
Choose whichever you prefer. 1.3 is, obviously, far more “old-school”. But that 3.0 look and feel is excellent. That’s the one I go with, myself.
The GTK Theme
Next we need to change the look and feel of all the controls.
There are a handful of GTK themes available that are attempting to mimic (or are loosely inspired by) Amiga OS. None of them are absolutely perfect.
But this Amiga 3.x GTK theme comes pretty gosh darned close:
It’s not exactly “Amiga”. But it is certainly “Amiga-3.0-looking”.
Note: The only downside to this one… is that it is a GTK 2 theme. I have yet to find a quality GTK3/4 or KDE theme for Amiga OS. There are some out there that are clearly Amiga inspired (like this one and this one)… but none that truly capture the Amiga look. My recommendation is to grab one of those GTK3 themes that closely matches the color… so that GTK 3+ applications don’t look too out of place on your system.
The Mouse Pointer
The Amiga has a distinct, red mouse cursor. It really stands out.
And, honestly, if you don’t use a bold, red pointer… your whole system is going to look “Not Amiga”.
Luckily there are two red, Amiga-inspired mouse cursor options.
Both look great. The first one is a bit more “old-school”, but both do an excellent job of being… well… very, very red.
The Topaz Font
All of the classic operating systems have their own, distinct font. Using the wrong font will make your system look… wrong.
For the Amiga, you need Topaz.
There are many Topaz fonts out there, but I recommend the Amiga Fonts collection. A recreation of Topaz fonts, with a careful eye towards getting them right for each era of Amiga (including different hardware releases — as the font was stored in ROM).
Seriously. Don’t go through the trouble of getting your system looking close to an Amiga and then skimp on the font. You’ll thank me later.
The wallpaper for an Amiga OS system can really be just about anything you like. Do a quick search, on whatever search engine you prefer, for “Amiga Wallpaper” or “Boing Ball” and you’ll find a large collection of Amiga-inspired options.
If you want the true, default, classic experience…
Set your desktop background to a solid color.
If you are mimicking the Amiga 1.3 look, choose this dark blue (0 red, 84 green, 177 blue):
If you are going for that Amiga OS 3.x look, you’ll want to use this gray color (175 red, 175 green, 175 blue):
While the boot screen of your system may not be the most important aspect (you do only see it when booting, after all)… having an Amiga-styled boot loader is still a nice touch!
Luckily, there is a GRUB theme available that has iterations for multiple Amiga OS versions!
Not bad, right?
Now your system can look “Amiga-like” right from the boot loader!
There are some issues
Even after you’ve done all that… there are a few things that just won’t look quite, 100% “Amiga”.
Most notably… the menu at the top of the screen.
On an Amiga, the “Amiga Workbench” menu bar shows the memory… and has a “hover-over” set of menus that appear.
Your best bet is to simply put your XFCE panel at the top of the screen and tweak the color to match. What you’re going for, with this part, is to make it blend with your system as best you can. At least until someone comes along and builds a plugin that mimics exactly the Amiga Workbench menu.
But, honestly, the whole look can get pretty darned close! It will never be 100%, exactly Amiga… but you can certainly bring your system to the point of looking like an Amiga-descendant. Which is pretty cool.
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