The more or less successful experiment of bringing the Windows interface to the Linux environment has been attempted several times. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution derived from Ubuntu that has a user interface that closely resembles that of Windows 11. Indeed, at first glance, the Wubuntu desktop looks just like that of Windows 11 with the Mica design, the icons centered in the application bar, the traybar, fonts practically indistinguishable from the Microsoft operating system.
Wubuntu inherits the legacy of Windowsfx, an Ubuntu-based Linux operating system that sought to provide a Windows-like experience. Since the end of June 2023, the author of the project – Raphael Rachid – decided to rename Windowsfx to Wubuntu. Rachid has not yet explained the reasons for his decision but in fact Windowsfx is now definitively shelved to make room for the new Wubuntu.
What is Wubuntu and how the Windows 11 experience works on Linux
The full name of the Wubuntu project is The Windows Ubuntu Operating System. It is a platform designed for those who prefer the interface and features of Windows but want to use a Linux-based operating system.
Distributed in various versions, Wubuntu focuses on desktop environment Plasma, part of the KDE (K Desktop Environment) project. It’s a desktop environment highly customizable, powerful and flexible that offers a wide range of features to enhance the user experience. Based on advanced technologies such as Qt and KDE Frameworksthe possibilities of customization are really noticeable: Wubuntu’s interface is almost indistinguishable from that of a Windows 11 system.
The effort that the developer has put into making the Plasma desktop as close to Windows 11 as possible is impressive: anyone who hasn’t internalized details such as window border width, icon spacing and Windows fonts may not notice, at least at first vista, to use a Linux machine. In this sense the experiment conducted by Rachid is undoubtedly a great success.
Apart from the very similar interface to Windows 11, the others functionality offerings from Wubuntu could be manually added by users with virtually any Linux distribution. The advantage of Wubuntu is that the platform already collects them under a single “hat”, ready to be used.
Run Windows executables on Wubuntu
As seen in the Wubuntu Plasma Edition YouTube video, the distribution offers by default the option to start Windows executables (EXE). and other files specific to the Microsoft operating system, such as installation files in MSI format.
Wubuntu doesn’t launch Windows executables directly – it leans on instead Wine (Wine is not an emulator), a compatibility program that allows Windows applications to load on Linux-based operating systems, including Ubuntu and Wubuntu. Wine is open source software that provides an implementation of API Windows: Microsoft operating system system calls and functions are automatically translated to their Linux equivalents, allowing applications to function properly.
To make Wine easier to use, Wubuntu seamlessly integrates it into the operating system, so users can run Windows applications without having to deal with additional technical complexities.
Support for Windows, Linux and Android applications
We have already mentioned that Wubuntu tries to simplify the experience of using Windows applications on Linux. Despite the identical nomenclature, the package PowerToys supplied with Wubuntu allows you to use a large number of Microsoft applications: things like the Windows Control Panel, the network settings window, OneDrive, Android support and much more are made available immediately. In reality, Microsoft PowerToys are something very different, a set of utilities for Windows that can be activated on request by each individual user.
Furthermore, unlike what happens on Windows 11, the android applications can be searched and directly installed through the Google Play Store. Wubuntu also supports thehardware acceleration through the use of the GPU, which is useful for games.
Being in turn based on Ubuntu 22.04 LTSWubuntu ensures regular updates and makes available to users all patches released by Canonical until April 2027.
Free and paid version
In Windowsfx, the Windows 11-derived GUI was part of a package called WxDesktop, which is not open source but proprietary. The author offered the opportunity to use it for free for 30 days. Subsequently the component continued to work, but Wubuntu periodically showed a system notification asking the user to purchase a license by paying the amount of 35 dollars.
The developer does not clarify whether Wubuntu follows the same pattern but it is likely that the approach to license management remains unchanged. Indeed, on the page Professional Key of Wubuntu, through which you can register your license, Rachid adds that every paying user receives all the applications of the PowerToys package.
The paid release of Windowsfx also provided support for Android apps, for Microsoft Active Directory and showed OneDrive at the file manager level.
The mystery of the name change
It is not known why the author of Windowsfx has chosen to change the name of his Ubuntu-derived “creature”. An imposition by Microsoft appears unlikely because Wubuntu is called The Windows Ubuntu Operating System in extended form and the word Windows, on closer inspection, is a registered trademark. Furthermore, the Wubuntu interface (like that of Windowsfx was) is really almost superimposable on the graphic and design choices made by Microsoft with Windows 11.
The so-called “look-alike operating systems” or “themed operating systems”, i.e. mimicking the interface of another product, have always existed. Their goal is, as in the case of Wubuntu, to allow users to navigate a familiar interface, even if the underlying operating system is different. The legality of an operating system look-alike depends on several factors, including intellectual property rights and applicable licenses.
The versions of Wubuntu available
To date, the author of Wubuntu has made three different versions of the operating system publicly available: the first, the one mentioned above, is based on Plasma. Then there is a second call Advanced Hardware Support (AHS) for Plasma which improves performance on systems equipped with newer hardware.
In the end, Windows Ubuntu Cinnamon is a third version that instead Plasma use the desktop environment Cinnamon.
In all cases, the files are downloadable ISO images of the respective installation media, useful for starting the installation of the operating system on the machine in use or within a virtualized environment.