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Dust is a concept for a new, refreshing look for Ubuntu. The idea was to take the defining aesthetic elements of Ubuntu and remix it into something clean, modern, functional, and unique.
Here are some guidelines I followed while making this:
No custom software. It has to use an established GTK engine. This one is made with the Aurora GTK engine in mind, which sports a very polished look.
Few custom icons. It was made with the Tango iconset in mind.
It's visually neutral. The window decorations are not orange or brown — they’re predominantly dark gray. This is good so that when you’re viewing images or working on visual things, the colors of the decorations don’t influence your perception of the content. I think this is a strong point of OSX. Let the wallpaper define the look, not the window controls.
It's dark, to be similar to the current Ibex theme.
It uses the default two-panel configuration of GNOME. Not only is it proven functional, but people have been used to this and it would be awful to break their expectations. No AWN docks or anything fancy.
Update (Sept 1): Icon concept
Update: Firefox theme progress
(Right now, this *rips off* Camino's buttons, because it's the closest to the direction I want, but not quite. Obviously, new icon artwork will be made just for Dust.)
Update: vanity wallpaper
(Hey, I know the wallpaper is a little too messy to be considered, but hey, just playin' around.)
The latest versions of the GTK and Metacity themes are available here:
Download Dust theme (.tar.gz)
(Updated September 8)
* = For Hardy, this theme requires Murrine from SVN. Compile it using:
sudo apt-get install subversion intltool
svn checkout http://svn.gnome.org/svn/murrine/trunk/ murrine-svn
./autogen.sh --enable-animation --prefix=/usr
make && sudo make install
Other stuff to try
The mockups have borderless windows. To have this, go to your theme's settings (Under System -> Preferences -> Appearance -> Customize) and under the "Window Border" tab, select "Dust Borderless."
Try setting your panel background (right click at panel -> Properties -> Background -> Background image) to ~/.themes/Dust/panel-background.png.
Compiz decorator settings
If you're using Compiz and you find the titlebar transparency weird, you can try running the script Dust_compiz_settings.sh (included in the download) to fix.
Issues and to do list
- Firefox uses a light toolbar background. This is a workaround since the dark colors don't work well with the default Linux Firefox theme.
- Openoffice toolbuttons are light. Probably can't fix. (GTK gurus: Anyone know how to make an exception for Openoffice to use a 'light' style instead?)
- Evolution toolbar is flat.
- Thunderbird toolbar is hard to read. Probably can't fix. Wait for TB3 or use Evolution.
Artwork to do:
- Toolbar separator (I'm not sure how to implement this)
- Toolbar handle
- Shinier metacity theme (haven't changed buttons yet)
- Fixed toolbar handles--they're currently transparent, will do handles later
- Fixed panel menubar
- Fixed input boxes on toolbars (i.e. Nautilus/Epiphany location bars should have darker text now)
- Consolidated both Aurora and Murrine versions into one package
- Added a borderless style
- Fixed toolbar handles a little
- Aesthetic improvements to menus and toolbars
- New selected item color
- Incorporates and cleans up changes from the previous version
- New color scheme, titlebar buttons alignment fix, and other fixes)
The theme is currently being worked on by Rico Sta. Cruz ad Kido Mariano.
- I think Ubuntu needs a more colorful theme. This looks too much like OS X.
- The icons and buttons remind me of OS X. (Are you using an OS X based icon theme?) I'd change the toolbar buttons to look a bit less like brushed-metal and I think the normal buttons could use some prettying up. Asides from that, I love it. If you've already done any work on the theme, can you please upload it? -- Natan
- A W E S O M E. The only thing I would change are the buttons, they are too much Mac-ish and the GTK controls( just add some RGBA to make them prettier). Artir.
I don't see how this is OS X-like at all. It's as if people think "looks too nice - like Mac OS X!". Care to explain yourselves, or are you happy just touting the position without constructive contribution? (Aimed at the two above Artir). As for the buttons... they are indeed round, but that's the only similarity I see. Maybe a side-by-side comparison would help. I think the smaller buttons are a good idea because they'll translate better to, for example, close buttons on tabs. It would be good to see how this will look with the minimize and maximize shortcuts in there, too. (Even if you don't intend them to be enabled, users may still choose to turn them on).
The thing with MacOS's theme right now is that it tries to stay out of the way. That is, people aren't looking at it but at the contents provided by an application. Thus, any smart and unobtrusive theme is going to look similar. I don't think that is a problem. The only place where people can really legitimately say "looks like MacOS" (aside from window buttons) is if we break mouse acceleration, we reduce valuable functionality by adding a dock and all of our desktop applications start looking like iPhoto. As is, people may as well say "Ubuntu feels too much like MacOS" because the only time it fails is a kernel panic and it prefers very particular hardware.
Back to the topic, I love the mockup! I am a big fan of having certain containers like menu bars and toolbars darkly coloured, but leaving any content with a light background. It keeps everything readable, organized and pretty darn nice looking, too.
I like that your mockup does not rely on the widgets being positioned any certain way. For example, toolbars are not designed to flow into anything else, and the menus do not cast any extra colour to the theme. This makes it much easier to apply the theme without breaking anything.
While it's quite a different topic, I like what you have done with Nautilus' toolbar. Replacing the context menu items (like Extract) with things that appear on the toolbar could be a nice direction for the future. After all, the context menu is only meant to be secondary!
One other thing: You mention to "let the wallpaper define the look, not the window controls." I agree completely, but there is soemthing you miss. The CONTENT - that is, the stuff inside each window being decorated here - is also key. Let's allow good looking content to exist unhindered by arbitrary window themes. One way to do that is to remove overpowering window borders. For example, today's Human theme has overpowering window borders; a window open to display specific content looks caged off from everything else by a thick grey border. The border is nice for resizing, but that is about it. (And frankly, I think that needs to be fixed; themes should not affect interaction like that). You appear to be doing that, too, in your mockup... which means it gets an A+ from me! -- dylanmccall 2008-08-18 16:43:00
- Hey guys, I'm the person responsible for the mockup here. Thanks for the comment guys.
Re: OSX look: I think most of what makes it OSX are (1) the icons, and (2) the 'unified' title/menu/toolbar look. As for the icons, I didn't really intend to use those icons. I lifted them from a screenshot of my desktop (which happened to be using a Leopard icon theme at that time). Ideally, there should be a theme to go with this. IMHO even the default Human icon theme will look good here.
Re: posting the theme: Sorry guys, this is just a mockup. I'd love to develop it into a GTK theme but I'm not sure if I'll ever get to do that. Will update this thread in case that happens of course.
Re: windowborders: My thoughts exactly too Dylan. Regarding resizing windows, I remember making an Emerald theme that has "transparent" borders -- i.e., meaning they appear borderless, but they can be grabbed by the mouse as resize handlers. Maybe this can be done with gtk-window-decorator too?
Re: small min/max/close icons: Definitely a part of the mockup that didn't get much work on. Having just a close button (and invisible min/max) is unacceptable in my standards too. Sorry for being to lazy to mock those up too. -- rico-ambiescent 2008-08-18 22:13:31
- Hey guys, I'm the person responsible for the mockup here. Thanks for the comment guys.
-- troy-sobotka 2008-08-19 03:48:52 First, to avoid 'is ugly' 'is awsome' 'zomg' 'is nasty', I'll try to temper the comments with related speculation regarding an audience.
- Mature. The theme has a maturity to it. Hard for me to pinpoint exactly why so, but I'd speculate that it firstly avoids the gaudy heavy handed outlines present in both Tango 48 point icons, but also a plethora of the heavy outlined GTK engines (Murrine included.) That speaks of sophistication, and as a result, maturity. Works in the late twenty to thirty range.
- Slightly Masculine. The darkness probably lends more to a male audience. Not quite slick hot rods, but enough masculinity to maybe consider neutralizing the tonal value slightly as an experiment? Certainly works on male 'sleek', 'dark', 'mysterious' feeling.
- Sophisticated. As above. Note the subtle font size as compared against default Ubuntu bold, boxy, and clunky feeling. Note the absence of Tango outlines on both the 48 point icons (Borrowed, of course) and the GTK implementation. This also aids in keeping the GTK button sizes down which helps pull this toward a sophisticated feel.
- Instrumental. The monochromatic interface elements on both the browser and the panel are plus one. Kenneth Wimer and myself did a brief foray into the monochromatic icon shapes on Launchpad somewhere. I'd have to say that the monochromatic icon look, when executed properly, aspires towards instrumentation panels far superior than the multi-coloured icon sets out there. The GTK and window decorations are examples of this as well -- again avoiding the repetitive heaviness present in so many GTK engines thanks to outlines and overly massive vertical presence.
Dark Webby. There have been many websites that exploit a dark and simplistic two dimensional feeling to great effect. This theme, using some of those cues, has a very contemporary feel as a result.
- Icons. Avoid Tango if you want to keep the above feel. Avoid Tango styled icons. The 22 point sizes certainly aren't disastrous, and it would be difficult to avoid them at this stage without a groundswell of help. That said, I'd hate to see the overall feel dragged down thanks to Tango outlines and style.
- Thematic. The basic interface is working tremendously well. What sort of visual imagery would further the thematic along? I don't believe the stones quite do it justice at this point.
- Palette. This theme might greatly come to life with a little colour. Perhaps through the choice of a visual thematic you can obtain a clear triplet or quad based palette? I believe in this instance the interface being devoid of colour is working extremely well. Round it out with some helping visual colour in other areas? If you get a clear triplet or quad, perhaps you can integrate subtle cues in the active / selected items tones?
- Let the Dated Die. There are still some yearnings toward gloss on the panels. Might be worth experimenting with the 'webby' concept above by avoiding the gloss? Perhaps even experiment further by dropping the slight 3D feel to the windows? Interesting alternatives at the very least.
- Real. How close can this theme come to reality at this point? Can we set this into motion via a downloadable tarball?
- Great, except in firefox, the text is black on black on the bookmarks bar, other than that, perfect
I wrote a comment on Reddit, which I am transcribing here. Should answer some of the questions on where it feels too much like OS X, at least what I perceived:
- Looks way too much like Leopard.
- Borderless windows? That doesn't work so well if you don't have things better planned (i.e., every single resizable window will need a bottom-right resizer; even on OS X, which in theory should have sorted that out already, has its eventual quirks with that). Not to mention the shape of the windows is basically the same as OS X's (rounded upper edges with strikingly similar radius, square lower edges). Then there's the shadow of the windows, quite similar to OS X's too.
- The Firefox theme is obviously an adaptation of the OS X version. Please, we can do better than having round buttons on some toolbars and square buttons on others. Then there's the Safari-ish lack of a status bar, which I find quite bad... and which led here to Firefox being nearly unresizable, due to the lack of a resizer widget.
- Monochrome notification icons, also too similar to OS X's. I particularly dislike that idea, first because it doesn't really fit with the Tango palette, second because you won't succeed in getting all applications (or even the popular ones) to use similarly-themed icons. In no time the notification area will become a mess of colorful and monochrome icons. So, it's better to just stick with something that blends nicely with Tango, since that's the goal of GNOME UIs today.
- The fonts are quite small, and that, together with the color and the lack of hinting (another controversial aspect of OS X, by the way), produce text that is blurry and harder to read than it should by default.
- Plus, it's awfully hard to tell which is the focused window. But since that seems to be just a mock, it could be just that the author didn't work on that yet. Anyway, since I guess the titlebar will have to blend with the menubar for the unified look (another Leopard-ism), it won't be able to change color unless the menu bar also changes, and possibly the whole toolbar/statusbar/client area. I've never seen GTK do that, but I don't know its capabilities either. And changing just the title color will most certainly still be not enough to easily tell the focused window.
- Lack of minimize and maximize buttons.
- Non-hinted fonts. I know, this is configurable, but I find it unlikely that Ubuntu will use them by default, and it'd be nice if the screenshots were taken/mocked looking closer to a default install. My personal favorite is slight hinting, anyway.
Out of curiosity, what is the "No activity" item in the top panel? I assume this is just something the author uses, not a proposal for the default panels.
But of course, the author could address all of these points, so this shouldn't be taken as a "there's no hope here" kind of criticism. I'm eagerly looking forward to new versions.
-- -- mernen 2008-08-25 07:03:24
- Looks way too much like Leopard.
please, choose this so i don't feel like i have to excuse myself every time i install ubuntu for someone. "yes, i know it looks ugly, but relax. I'll change the theme right away". - -- lars DateTime(2008-08-25T09:30:00Z)
Good enough to be the default theme. -- heavensblade23 2008-08-25 22:03:30
In almost every Drak theme, I've found that workspace switcher is not rendered properly. It's becomes almost invisible. -- sandaru1
Looks fantastic, but needs some love on the Firefox front and a little something to make things like the system monitor applet and workspace switcher stand out a bit more. Firefox is the more important issue though: that's what keeps me from using this as a new default right away. As far as the icons are concerned: maybe the Foxtrot or Gion icon sets can do the job. I'm using it with Gion now and that seems to fit (but is a matter of personal taste, of course). I noticed some glitches on the panels while 'spinning the cube' with this theme on Intrepid, but then again, those glitches might always have been there and not been noticed by me... -- maxim
I LOVE it! It has a polish and maturity that can't be found on any other theme I've seen. I'm with maxim though. The GION theme is gorgeous and would fit this theme beautifully. You can find it here: http://art.gnome.org/themes/icon/1340 -- chiefmanyrabbitguteat
I like it a lot ! I've already tried to install the theme (Murrine), and the result is near the screenshots. I just have 1 question : What is the font used in the screenshots (and plz the configuration too RGB ? slight-hinting or not etc...) and I'll be in paradise -- Cpt-Falcon [2008-08-28]
The font I was using in the mockups is proprietary, sorry. As an alternative, I suggest Droid: http://dump.ambiescent.com/i/dust-droid-1.png The settings to get full antialiasing is to check "subpixel rendering (LCDs)" with hinting as "None" (which I assume is what you're looking for!) Good luck @-- rico-ambiescent 2008-08-29 03:30:49@
Ok thank you for Droid, I've tried it but I can't have the same rendering as you... I'll try harder But just for info, what was the name of the font you used ? Myriad (Pro) ? Oh and by the way where did you find your icon set ? Blue directories looks great, and the icons in the top bar too ! (Proprietary too ? Nevermind, give me some names plz lol). I hope your theme will be the default theme for intrepid, need some tweaks maybe, but you've already done the big job ! I'm bored by the orange theme :p Where can I vote for you ? Cpt-Falcon 2008-08-29 08:00:49
It's too dark on my screen. I loved the screenshots but when I installed the themes I was dissapointed.
I have a cheap and crappy 19" LCD screen, yet most popular IMO, and the panels and toolbars backgroung seems just too black.
This is more disturbing when one window is on all the screen so you don't see the wallpaper as a seperation between the window's border and the top and bottom panels, and it gets worser in daylight.
I would suggest to keep the dark concept but make all the dark colors a little bit brighter, for the sake of those who don't have the latest state-of-the-art LCD panels.
Another option I like is to keep the dark panels, but make the window's content much brighter (I saw this in other mockup suggested here, I don't remeber which).
Except that I have a bug in the links in firefox (black on black), but that's already known I assume.
- Request: Please make this wallpaper available if it's freely distributable! Thank you and if you want you can move this to comments or delete it - mewithafez aka firefish17
For 1280 only here. I really don't want to release it because I feel it doesn't quite match neither the Ubuntu ideals, nor the Dust look. (in fact I'm not sure where I got the bg texture from!) -- rico-ambiescent 2008-08-31 20:39:14
- Thank you! While it may not match the ideals, I encourage you to post it on deviantart/gnome-look/the ubuntu forums even if it is just to draw eyes back to this theme. - mewithafez
Wow this theme looks hot! Theres's one thing i don't like tho: dark menu-dropdown-lists. Dropdownlists like in the GoodDarkTheme mockup are much more appealing imo. However, i really wish this (more polished) would become the default theme for future Ubuntu releases. Worth a look: Kim's area (especially his soft-surface theme), NuoveXt 2.
- The dark popup menus are there mostly as a workaround to make Firefox and OO.o menus appear correctly without adding more files. I do like the dark popup menus, though :P -Kido
This is a wonderful theme! With 09/07 update, I noticed some bugs: one in Thunderbird, one in the menu-bar (I made a 2 bugs in one screen-shot for those) and one in the .tar.gz itself: theme manager say "the required icon theme "Dust" is not installed".
Otherwise, I think min/max/close buttons have to be bigger and/or with different colors because I don't think it is currently use-able for some user (olds persons, bad view...) those buttons are fundamental for a good OS experience, they have to be easy to access and to see for everyone.
- Malaria (sorry for my English )
- Fixed the panel menubar issue. I don't think we can do anything about the Thunderbird issue. We'll have to wait for Rico to do something about the window buttons. :P -Kido
- You should post this on gnome-look to get more exposure for what currently is among the top 2-3 themes for Ibex so far. I would recommend trying to blend the window border/menu so that it looks seamless. Also, are you striving to make an iconset soon? The icons mockup is quite impressive. -PRGUY85
- Insensitive text should be darker than normal text on dark background and you should get back the previous selection colour (it makes content more meaningful). Last version (09/08/2008) seems to be uninstallable.