Project eLubuntu : Change Lubuntu theme to look and feel like Ubuntu.. with a twist of elementary – Part 1

In this article, we will be performing a series of tweaks, configs to an existing Lubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr stock desktop and try to bring about a look and feel you get with the stock Ubuntu Unity 14.04 Trusty Tahr desktop. A sneak peek at what you can expect:


One of the main reasons I got into using Ubuntu (Unity specifically) as my main rig was the highly optimized usage of real estate by the Unity Desktop Environment. I primarily need more space in my desktop, as in, I need to have multiple windows open side by side, focusing on the main work area (editor, canvas etc.,). I really don’t care about and care for the GUI button based Tool Bar or even the Menu Bar. Unity kind of fit the bill to the tee. Anyways, once in a while, I keep trying out newer (older?) DEs to see if there is something that I like and can fit into my workflow. Long story short, I haven’t found something out of the box..

So started my experiment to do something of my own. I took Lubuntu, which is supposed to be the fastest of the *buntu family and tried to tweak to my heart’s content to make it look like Unity. I can say I was fairly successful though I feel a lot can be improved/improvised. I guess I can call this phase 1 of what I wish to achieve.


  • To maximize real estate by
    • optimizing title bar, menu bar etc.,
    • auto-hiding Unity like launch panel
    • stripping down default panel and moving to the top
  • To mimic Unity/Elementary looks by
    • running elementary OS like theme
    • tweak window controls, fonts etc.,



NOTE: Generic Panel How-to : Right-click on Panel and select ‘Panel Settings’

  1. Move the default bottom panel to top
  2. Remove everything except the right hand side cluster (starting Volume applet in a fresh install)
  3. Shrink panel width to 15% and align right.
  4. Create a new Panel and place in the left edge of the screen (Right-click on existing panel->’Create New Panel’)
  5. In this Panel
    • set Transparency (as per taste, I set it to around 90% or 230)
    • Add Menu, Spacer (size 10), Application Launch Bar (add application to taste), Spacer (size 10), Task List (see settings in screenshot), Spacer (Stretch), Desktop Pager, Show Desktop in the same order.
Top Panel:
Left Panel:

Window Decorations:

  1. Move Window Controls to Left.
    • Menu->Preferences->Openbox Configuration Manager->Window Decoration->CIMLD
  2. Install Elementary OS like theme and Icons (Optional, left to taste).
    • Theme: I highly recommend Elementary OS Openbox. You could try Unity like theme Ambience Crunchy as well..
      • Menu->Preferences->Openbox Configuration Manager->Theme->Install New Theme->select downloaded .obt file.
      • Again in the same window select ‘Elementary’.
    • Icons: Elementary OS’s original icons. Get it from Elementary OS’s LaunchPad page
      • Extract downloaded icons into ~/.icons/
      • Menu->Preferences->Customize Look and Feel->Icons->select ‘Elementary’

Window Controls and Icons:


If you are successful through all previous steps, you should see something like this:


As you see, though not fully there, for me, it was a good start towards using a non-Unity minimalist Desktop which is as efficient. Over the next several days, I’ll be working on improving the tweaks to make it more seamless with Unity UX. So, keep tabs.

In the meanwhile, I’m sure there are folks out there who have done a much better job.I would love to hear and contribute if there is effort already going on!! Just leave me a word in the comments below.

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