I've read a lot about Elementary OS. It seems like a potential alternative to Ubuntu and many other Linux desktop distros. It looks beautiful and works smoothly, many say so.

After having checked a lot of videos and screenshots of different versions of Elementary OS, I've noticed something unclear when it comes to window title bar buttons (Close, maximize/restore down and minimize). For example on Ubuntu, the buttons are simple and they are placed on the left, same goes for OS X. I would like to know whether it is possible to have those buttons in the latest version of Elementary OS (0.4.0 "Loki") work and look just at least like in Ubuntu 16.10? And what configuration options for these buttons exist in Elementary OS, if there are any themes and styles to choose between?

It looks odd in some screenshots where there is only "x" ("close window" I suppose) button on the left side of a window title bar and another button which looks like "maximize" is placed on the opposite side, all the way to the right side of the window title bar like in this screenshot: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-T0vMLRwbxsA/VcPhaVq3vZI/AAAAAAAAKOA/tN_CGHG0MIg/s1600/email.png

I am not sure, but I think that I saw more OS X like window title bar buttons in older versions of Elementary OS (some screenshots on the net) or custom themes like http://gamblisfx.com/elementary-lion-1-1-theme-make-elementary-os-like-mac-os-x/ . No idea where "minimize" button exist in the latest version of Elementary OS. Using right mouse button on the window title bar and choosing "minimize" every time would be totally unpractical.

And what themes can possibly restore such simple close, maximize/restore down and minimize buttons from Ubuntu or OS X in Elementary OS?

NOTE: I am unable to install and test Elementary OS or any other operating system at the moment, so I decided to ask you this first. Sooner or later I am going to run it on a laptop.

I am basically looking for the right Linux distro which would be compatible with a large number of commonly used programs and also look/to make it look similar to older versions of Ubuntu before Unity and GNOME 3, something like OS X would be perfect. Elementary OS is based on Ubuntu, right? In my case wouldn't it be better to customize Ubuntu or any other well compatible Linux, Unix-like OS and make it look similar to OS X while keeping security, compatibility and functionality? Or will Elementary OS be enough?

Thank you very much for specific and detailed answers with explanation, any help and advice.

  • You should try to run the live USB without installing that might help you clarifiy this issue.
    – lemonslice
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 10:44
  • We're best suited for Q&A here. There are other (linked) answers that already answer your main concerns, but the discussion-oriented questions are best served in another forum, such as the elementary Reddit. As for standardization, it's a long road with insufficient peoplepower.
    – wolf
    Commented Nov 21, 2016 at 22:08
  • There's a nice starting point that links to most sites about elementary OS (including @wolf recomended Reddit): elementaryforums.com/index.php Commented Nov 22, 2016 at 16:21

2 Answers 2


Actually you can add a minimize button and place the close, minimize, maximize buttons on which side and which order you want for any of them with dconf editor (needs to be installed from AppCenter) or from Terminal, as described here: How can I get a "minimize" button? Or you can use a hot corner to minimize the windows (System Settings > Desktop > Hot Corners).


On elementary OS you have a maximize and a close button. There's no need to minimize because closing an app and opening it again will also open what you were working on before. This only works with elementary apps and maybe some apps designed for elementary.
However you can alt-tab or press another icon in the dock to go to another app. That way it won't close the previous app.

If you REALLY need the minimize button you could enable it with elementary-tweaks. That same app also allows you to install themes, but it's not supported by the elementary team.

About the compatibility, Loki is based on Ubuntu 16.04 so you will have everything that's in there but also you will get more recent versions of some packages and drivers that the elementary team have actualized.

  • Thanks a lot, Maccer. I looked up elementary-tweaks and it has some interesting features in the screenshots I saw, such as "buttons layout" or something like that. That could be it, right.
    – Style432
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 10:10
  • Sounds awesome. What about the bar on top of the screen there is in Elementary OS, does it act just as in OS X or like in Ubuntu with Unity so that it reacts with the running and active app?
    – Style432
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 10:11
  • The top bar is always the same. However it goes black when you maximize a window.
    – Maccer
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 10:43
  • It would be great if the top bar would be active as in Unity on Ubuntu or as in OS X, if Elementary OS is a resemblance to OS X or an alternative, how you take it, I guess.
    – Style432
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 10:47

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