The Best Linux Clones of Windows, Mac, and Android

Make Linux look like a familiar Windows, macOS, or Android desktop

The diversity of desktop environments for Linux means that you can configure a distribution to look and act like Windows 7, Windows XP, or even macOS or a Chromebook. A combination of a base distribution and the selection of a specific window manager and theme files helps you build a system with the performance and appearance that meets your needs.

Best Linux Win 7 replacement
 Andrew Neel / Unsplash
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Zorin OS Desktop screenshot
What We Like
  • Powerful operating system.

  • Outstanding security.

What We Don't Like
  • Limited desktop styles in free version.

  • Difficult to add items to desktop.

Zorin OS is a great replacement for Windows 7 users.

The general look and feel are the same as Windows 7 but it brings the security of Linux and it includes desktop effects and virtual workspaces.

Zorin OS comes with all of the applications that desktop users generally use including a web browser, audio player, email client, messenger app, remote desktop client, video editor, graphics editor, and office suite.

If you want to try a different look then you can always go for the Windows XP layout by using the Zorin Look Changer.

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Q4OS screenshot
What We Like
  • Incredibly light desktop environment.

  • Fast and easy installation.

What We Don't Like
  • Installing applications is not straightforward.

  • Lacking some documentation.

Q4OS is the perfect desktop replacement for Windows XP users.

It gives you an incredibly close experience to the Windows XP you are used to but is built on top of the more cutting-edge Linux operating system.

Install a common set of software applications such as Google's Chrome browser, the LibreOffice suite, and Thunderbird—or you can simply install the applications you require one by one.

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Elementary OS

Elementary OS screenshot
What We Like
  • Easy installation.

  • Elegant appearance.

What We Don't Like
  • Fewer features than some operating systems.

  • Lacks commercial support.

If you would like to try a Mac-style interface but you don't want to spend all of your hard-earned money on a new MacBook then try Elementary OS.

It has an easy-to-follow website, is incredibly easy to install and offers a desktop experience that has been carefully crafted to look simple yet elegant.

The software is lightweight in nature and will run on most hardware.

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MacPUP screenshot
What We Like
  • Extremely lightweight.

  • Plug and play compatibility.

What We Don't Like
  • Small software library.

  • Not as attractive appearance as other options.

MacPUP uses Puppy Linux as a base distribution.

From a user's point of view, however, all you need to know is that the look and feel have been crafted so that you get a similar interface to that of a MacBook.

It isn't quite as clean as Elementary OS but it will work on much older hardware and as it is built on Puppy Linux you can carry it around on a USB drive and boot it as required. 

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Peppermint OS

Peppermint OS screenshot
What We Like
  • Attractive desktop.

  • Fast, light, and stable.

What We Don't Like
  • Takes getting used to.

  • No simple document processor.

If you are looking for a Linux distribution to turn your laptop into a Chromebook then Peppermint OS is quite close.

It will take some customizing to make it look exactly like ChromeOS but the ICE application lets you add web applications to your computer as if they are standard desktop applications.

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Android x86

Android On Windows 8 screenshot
What We Like
  • Actively developed.

  • Open source.

What We Don't Like
  • Short list of supported devices.

  • Limited mouse controls.

If you are looking for an Android clone to run on your laptop then install Android x86 on your computer. It's a port of the full Android operating system, not a clone.

You'll run into some frustrating limitations to running Android on your desktop unless you have a touch-sensitive monitor or run it in through emulation software like VirtualBox or Hyper-V. It has been designed to work on a tablet or phone.

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