Re-Creating iLife (and Other Mac Stuff) on Linux

I have to admit, one of the things that initally drew me to Macs back in the day was the iLife creative suite. Some 15 year ago Macs absolutely blew everything else out of the water for artsy/multimedia type stuff with iPhoto, iMovie and GarageBand. Windows equivalents were ridiculously expensive until Windows 7 was introduced and then the gap narrowed considerably, though I still found Apple’s suite easier to use.

So now that I’ve made the move to Linux I’ve had to try to find alternatives, and boy did I ever succeed in doing just that. I found three programs that gives me pretty much the same functionality as iLife and the transition was very easy to make.

With that, here are the three equivalents I settled on.

  • iPhoto – I can’t speak for any other Linux distribution, but Mint Cinnamon edition comes with an app called Pix built right in. It’s an image viewer that also comes with GIMP built into it for easy editing.
  • GarageBand – LMMS has a very similar interface to GarageBand and the same capabilities. You can use real instrument tracks as well as a synthesized instrument library.
  • iMovie – OpenShot has an interface that is almost identical to iMovie. For Mac users, this is probably the easiest app to make the transition to Linux.

As far as some other stuff, for a music library manager I ultimately settled on Amarok.  I never used iWork much personally, but Linux Mint Cinnamon edition comes with LibreOffice preinstalled, which is what I had been using for an office suite on Mac so that’s no different at all.

On another note, I was able to pretty much completely recreate the “dark” theme from macOS Mojave by downloading and installing the Mint-Y-Yltra Dark theme as well as the Loki theme and the Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” default background (the whole cosmic thing). By implementing the themes as shown in the preferences, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference between the two:


To totally round out the Mac-clone package, Mint comes with the trademark “Flurry” screen saver* you can downoad the Xscreensaver package to implement the “Flurry” screensaver that’s the default Mac screensaver. That’s kind of the icing on the cake.

Anyway, hope this maybe helps some of you new Linux users who are coming over from Mac OS X/macOS. Of course, your results might vary depending on the distro you’re running but for Mint it was really this easy to almost completely recreate the interface I knew and loved on my Macs for a fraction of the price – this HP Pavilion 15z with quad-core AMD Ryzen 3 2300u processor, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB hard drive and a touchscreen set me back less than $750 including tax and shipping. A 13″ MacBook Pro with an equivalent Intel processor, 16 GB RAM, 1 TB storage and a non-touchscreen would have set me back $2,600 before tax and shipping. Sure, this HP only has a standard 5400 RPM SATA hard drive as opposed a SSD but that’s the only real edge the Mac would have over this machine.

Oh, and this thing actually still has the function keys (instead of that stupid Touch Bar) AND has a 10 key. Mac laptops haven’t had 10 keys since…forever. On some 2007 and earlier MacBook Pros they had an imbedded 10-key that was accessible via the number lock function but that’s completely gone now too.

Anyway, I digress. The point being is try not to fear too much, a simple Google search will show you plenty of alternatives to your beloved Mac apps. Also,  AlternativeTo is a great resource as well.

Happy app hunting!

*Note: As of Mint 19.1, the only built-in screensaver is a dimmed desktop background/blank screen. You can, however, install the full version of Xscreensaver and override your default screensaver by following these directions.

4 thoughts on “Re-Creating iLife (and Other Mac Stuff) on Linux

    • Oh nice!

      I started out as a comp sci major in undergrad myself. Ultimately I changed majors to maths with comp sci as a minor.

      I’ve used all three major operating systems (Windows, Mac, Linux) over the years and I’ve absolutely fallen for Linux. If you’re doing comp sci I’m sure you will too.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. One of my friend is doing computer science as well. Her college uses Linux. And even she said it is the best. I will have to wait until next year to find out. I’m yet to get admitted to college for my undergraduate degree.


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