How to make the Cinnamon DE look like Windows XP

September 23, 2020
Note: This tutorial is an evolving work and might change at any time.
A reference image showing what this tutorial aims to emulate.

Love it or hate it, Windows XP, nicknamed the Fisher-Price OS, has been a big part of many people’s lives. Enjoying a market share of 86.80% at its peak, it was a great influence on subsequent operating systems and desktop environments.

This tutorial will teach you how to create the closest possible imitation of the Windows XP desktop environment in Cinnamon. It was written with Cinnamon version 4.6.7 in mind and is mostly based on themes developed by the b00merang project (check them out!).

Downloads

Window Borders, Controls & Desktop

Start by downloading the Windows XP theme from project b00merang: link here. Copy the Windows XP Luna folder into ~/.themes. You can also copy the other folders as well if you want some of the other default Windows XP themes. You can see what each one looks like on the theme’s GitHub page.

Icons

Then download the Windows XP icon set: link here. Copy the Windows-XP-3.1 folder into ~/.icons.

Start Menu

The closest thing to the Windows XP Start Menu is CinnVIIStarkMenu. You can get it by going to Applets > Download > Search for its name. Also, download this JSON file containing the settings it needs. On line 167, replace username with your own username.

Fonts

Install ttf-mscorefonts and Tahoma by following this guide.

“Bliss” wallpaper

I’ll leave downloading that as an exercise to you.

Setting things up

Go to the Themes menu (or type cinnamon-settings themes into a terminal) and select the Windows XP themes for Window borders, Icons, Controls & Desktop.

Make sure you only have one panel, on the bottom of the screen. Set its height to 30px. We will now refer to it as the taskbar.

Right-click on the taskbar > Applets > Manage, then look for CinnVIIStarkMenu and add it to the taskbar. Move it to the leftmost edge of the taskbar (you need to be in “Panel edit mode” which you can enable from the right-click menu of the taskbar). If you had another menu before, remove it. Right-click on this new menu, then Configure > Click the 3 lines on the top right > Import from a file > Find the JSON file winxp_settings_for_menu.json.

At this point, we could also add the Quick-Launch menu using the Panel Launchers applet, but it the b00merang themes do not cover it properly yet.

Windows XP had no window shadows. So, to disable them, you need to specify the value of MUFFIN_NO_SHADOWS in your ~/.bashrc file. This command will do that:

echo export MUFFIN_NO_SHADOWS=1 >> ~/.bashrc

Then open a terminal, and type source ~/.bashrc to o load the new environment variables into the current shell session. You should then restart Cinnamon, by pressing Alt+F2, then typing r and then Enter. If you still have window shadows, this change should take effect the next time you reboot. To get the shadows back, you need to open ~/.bashrc again and remove the line, then type export MUFFIN_NO_SHADOWS=0 into the terminal, then restart again.

Also check out K.Mandla’s blog post about imitating the look of Windows XP Classic in IceWM.

For reference, this website contains many screenshots of Windows XP.

Reviving my blog

September 23, 2020

I got my first computer when I was around 12 years old – in 2008. Once we got an internet connection one year later, I proceeded to dive head first into the web, exploring every little corner I could find.

This is why I made a WordPress blog. I also made a blogger account and a reddit account, which I’ve since deleted.

I recently realized that I would actually want to have a blog where I can write down my thoughts, ideas, and maybe teach a bit. This is why I dusted off the old Yahoo! address and logged into WordPress again. I’m going to keep the old theme, as I really like it, and the first post.

Hello world!

March 13, 2009

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!