Tuesday, 29 September 2009

On the Ubuntu 9.10 default wallpaper

The first thing I did after installing Ubuntu 9.04 was to head straight for the Appearance settings to choose a desktop picture. Here's what I was offered:

Naturally, a panic ensued while I tried to work out how to synchronise filesystems between OS X and the VirtualBox Ubuntu installation so I didn't have to drown in brown every time I looked at Ubuntu.

For Ubuntu 9.10 we asked people to submit images on Flickr, and selected 19 of these for inclusion on the CD. Here's what you get now:

Much nicer.

Here's the default appearance on 9.04 and then 9.10.

It's not a quantum leap, but it feels like the lights have been turned on. The new default background is an organic version of the previous one - warmed up and subtly intriguing. The icons have been smartened up, the window title bar is darker yet somehow less intrusive, the 'panel' icons (top-right) are monochrome, and generally colour is being used more where it means something and less where it only adds visual noise.

I feel that we've managed to move things forward. There is a lot of work to do on a million other aspects of Ubuntu so I hope people won't get fixated on things like the default desktop too much - these are matters of taste and there are no correct answers - you have to trust that we have a long-term vision and that decisions are made to move things in a certain direction. We don't think you'll be disappointed when things really start to come through over the next few releases.


  1. If the progress and level of design invested in Karmic is only half as evident in Lucid, it'll still be a great release! The changes to Karmic have been, imo, superb.

  2. While I fully agree that Karmic looks much much better than any other Ubuntu release, I can't help but notice a certain degree of disconnection between the usplash (or whatever replaced it), the GDM artwork and the actual desktop. Any thoughts on this?


  3. I have shown ubuntu to a lot of people, because after using a lot of different linux distros I decided on ubuntu as "the one..."

    The point is that the reaction I get from people to the ubuntu color scheme is consistently neutral to negative. I have yet to meet someone face to face who says that they actually prefer this color scheme.

    The observation that I offer is that the ubuntu color scheme feels very appropriate for Africa. From what I know of that social+eco-sphere, the brown and black tones harmonize well with it. For instance looking at a NASA photo of the earth from space you very clearly see the African continent having the same colors that are predominant in the ubuntu brown scheme.

    But other countries have different energies and because of this they do not necessarily relate well to the ubuntu color scheme. For instance, in North America, the colors that resonate strongest are blues, soft greens, and soft yellows.

    Different continents (and cultures) are likely to give different results in their receptivity to any particular color scheme. For instance I suspect that Australia would feel very comfortable with ubuntu brown because of the similar eco-spheres.

    I know it's a lot more work, and there is some risk of diluting the ubuntu "brand" recognition. But I suggest that you look into the idea of creating multiple color themes targeted to specific areas, And that there be some mechanism for selecting the appropriate default scheme during installation. and perhaps even get fancy and suggest the default based on external ip address (found via traceroute or website)

    IMHO I think that the current brown color scheme is slowing down adoption in America, it certainly doesn't help. I get too many negative responses to it for this to not be having some effect. I do not believe that making it a "lighter" brown is the answer.

  4. clarification, I'm suggesting that you use "ip2country" to determine the installers probable location and then use that to suggest a default color scheme.

    Neophyte computer users will often accept the defaults and seldom change them, so it's important to make an effort to get the defaults to be as useful as possible.

  5. Good team america wallpaper ..Keep Posting

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