Basic Ideals: Main


Between Sun 16th Dec - Sat 22nd Dec

Basic Ideals Ideas

Since the main basic ideals page is getting large we have created this "Ideas" wiki page to support the ideas of this project.

Basic Ideals: Maybe it's the name

Alright, lack of entries in the submit-names thing, so we'll just keep the name.


Basic Theme Guidelines Comments/Criticisms

Please post any suggestions and ideas in this section please.

As much as i do like this theme-- i don't think it is appropriate to be the default theme. I think it feels like the change from XP to Vista. I think we should be aiming for something minimalistic. I would rather have something simple and sweet that everybody agrees looks good than something like this, where opinions are divided between people who think it looks amazing and those who think it looks gaudy.

-- Dpic 2007-12-15 21:35:28

It's been a while since we've seen any news here - hope it doesn't mean the theme is dying... I've been looking at the version 3.3 mockup frequently since it came up, and my suggestions (based purely on taste and a bit on usability issues) - would be:

  • Revert to the old palette. It's somehow fresher.
  • The gradients are confusing to me. I think they should be used only to suggest some kind of texture/subtle 3D feel, nothing else.
  • Try and simply make the window border+menubar+toolbar a broader version of the panel. As mentioned before, there should be a clear distinction between user-defined contend and GUI-defined contend. Maybe the the menubar could have a slightly different gradient, suggesting a 'bump', thereby borrowing from both the Vista (black 'bump' menubar) and OS X Unified look.
  • Get the Ubuntu logo in the system menu back into that darker field outside the lines framing the Applications/Places/System entries. It looked awesome.
  • Transparency should be restricted to inactive windows, it's a showoff but it confuses the eye and steals attention from the work done.
  • I like the buttons, but I still think that in active windows,they should fade to a brownish shade of the button color, not the chrome color itself. That would give the buttons a sharper outline, and help distinguish active windows from inactive ones.
  • I'd love to see the gradient in the active taskbar button be a central one, framing the text.
  • In the inactive window with toolbar, it seems you'll get a dropdown menu by selecting a tab...?

All for now... --Lusepuster

Wow this is looking a lot cooler now! I do agree with Mirek2 that the buttons are a little on the Vista side, but I was wondering what it would be like if a mouse was to hover over it. Could you please in another screen shot show us what it would be like if one of those buttons was hovered over.


-- Lmessenger 2007-12-21 23:59:43

Here are my few notes:

  • - The difference between active and inactive windows is too small. - I would still make the transparency a little lighter. - I actually prefer the old minimize/maximize/exit buttons. In these, I'd say the buttons are too Vistaish and don't really resemble buttons anymore...

Other than that, I love the theme...

-- Mirek2

Kver3: Don't worry even the most random things can create the coolest themes.

-- Lmessenger 2007-12-20 21:06:12

Lusepuster: Lots of great ideas here! I'm going to be executing on just about every one of em! Version 3.3 will have the updates, probably later tonight/very early tomorrow.

Lmessenger: Inverting the theme was probably about the funniest things I've done, because you're completely and hilariously right. I love it - I'm going to be doing that! I'm giggling like a little school girl right now. It'll be called Arctic, kudos!

  • -- Ken Vermette

I was messing around with the v3.2 themes and found that if you turn them into negative coloring(or the opposite color) that the theme is very cool looking. If you were to redo Shift and replace it with the negative colors(which looks like snow) you could rename it to "Artic". Just an interesting thought that I wanted to share.

-- Lmessenger 2007-12-20 18:18:30

Whoa, things have happened since last time I looked at this! Removing the gloss has generally been a very good idea, although like Lmessenger, I think the old panels looked more vivid. Also, usability-wise, I think there's an idea to visually represent the difference between the user's workspace and the static area such as panels (and, for that sake, window chrome). The monochrome icons in the top panel are a very neat way to make the panel unintrusive yet always present when it is needed, which is exactly what a good user working environment should do. This is one of the few things that's bothered me since I switched from the Mac, and I really welcome it! I also think, though, that the basic brown has become too dark and reddish. I liked the original palette better, though lightening the beige was a very good idea. The rollup button in the bottom is a very neat idea too!

Transparency, to my taste, is a good idea in the work area of a window, but I like the chrome of the tool- and menubars opaque, firm and reassuring, perhaps with a smooth and subtle gradient to give it texture. Think a semi-transparent window firmly held by a strong frame... Smile :-)

I still think that the orange should be reserved for interactive elements - that is, not for tooltip and notification. A clear distinction is, in my opinion, needed between interactive (almost the entire interface)and non-interactive (tooltips, notifications) elements.

Also, easy on the gradients! they tend to make a blurry overall experience. In general, I think gradients between different shades of the same colors are great, if used carefully, while gradients between two different colors disturb the image. Examples:

  • The change in color in the window without toolbar still signifies the change from static, system-given content to dynamic, user-defined content, and the visual experience should reflect this, drawing a clear line. Take a look at the Apple Unified look to see how the top bar in windows without toolbars/menubars is simply extended to become the background behind the buttons in windows with tool-/menubars - it works great, visually, and marks a clear distinction between user-defined and system-given elements.
  • The close/minimize/maximize buttons, with the colored gradients, are blurry, hard to see and not well-defined. A subtle gradient between shades of their respective colors could work great, but fading into the background color, it only blurs the outline and makes them hard to see. I like the design of them, though, especially the fact that the cross/plus/line are only outlines in the unfocused windows. The button colors fading to the background color could maybe be reserved for the unfocused windows, making them more blurry in general than the active one?
  • The orange glow in the notification could maybe be replaced by a clean line? It would work as a 'frame' around the text. The rightmost part of the light bulb could stick a bit into the text area, visually bridging the two. the light bulb has become very nice btw, though I still think the glow around it tends to blur it and could be removed entirely
  • The orange gradient in the bottom of the focused window draws attention to the window frame rather than the document/website/... the user is working on. A good working environment should guide the eye towards the content you're working on.
  • The orange glow marking the active window in the window list could maybe be a central one, suggesting a subtle backlight? Also, in the workspace switcher, I think the entire active workspace and window should have each one shade of brownish orange, since these elements are too small to successfully apply a gradient.
  • The monochrome icons in the panels should be - monochrome! Being outlines, they are hard to see, and what you need from these icons is being able to take a quick look and instantly identify the icon you want and see its status. There's an idea in making the inactive bars in the wifi icon empty, of course, but other than that, I suggest clean lines as the way to go.

Regarding text colors: the difference in the beige/brown and white/brown contrasts is not enough to make the eye instantly realize the difference between active/highlighted ind inactive elements. I think settling for beige was a nice and clean solution, and the problem of highlighting and stressing the important elements could be achieved otherwise (at least in my wet dreams), by:

  • re-applying a subtle gloss or other kind of texture to the panels and chrome of the active window, and
  • making the inactive windows 'flat' with a slightly grayed or lightened, monochrome color. This could also work for a non-composite window manager (if GTK technically supports it).

Think that was about it... Sorry for babbling Wink ;-)

Thanks again, Lusepuster, 6:25pm gmt+1

I was just noticing the original mockups and found my self liking the older version more. It seems to me that the original idea is a lot cleaner cut. It also seems to be that the panels are of a lighter color, and now it seems that the panels and the overall theme seem a lot darker. It would be nicer if the current theme could change back to the original design, especially the panels.

Thanks, -- Lmessenger 2007-12-18 17:19:04

First, I give you top shelf marks for your enthusiasm and mocking.

As with most FOSS projects, you can probably see that this will turn into a game of chasing your tail unless you make a clear and present decision on some fundamental design principles. To quote the countless folks out there who have written tomes on design, studied fine arts, and spent numerous hours researching and / or studying the field, you are probably going to end up spinning your wheels until you clearly identify the following two key items:

  1. Audience: Who is your intended audience? What is their age demographic? What appeals to this demographic currently? Are there contemporary examples of successful designs outside of operating systems that might be examined to glean some information? Remember -- if your demographic is too wide you will likely end up with a tepid delivery and reduced success. Too narrow and you risk marginalizing your presentation. State your audience without shame, and don't fall into the foolish namesakes of FOSS such as "everyone" / "humans" / "all".

  2. Concept / Goal / Communication: What is the driving force behind your design? What is the aesthetic that you seek to capture with the design? What do you seek to communicate through the execution?

After that, you might be able to avoid the 'I think' 'Is Ugly' 'Isn't Usable' 'I think' cycle. Remember, you are always able to stamp something with the 'by design' ink and stick to your guns. Once you have your 'best guess' to appease your audience with your given concept / goal -- try to get feedback from that audience. The rest is completely irrelevant.

Once again, your vigor is most inspirational.

PS: On a practical note, the rounded corners and such as present in your mocks are currently unattainable with our current library base. Perhaps much can be gleaned by mocking your mock into reality and pursuing the shortcomings as you are able?

-- TroySobotka 2007-12-18 03:02:13

The latest mock-ups are much improved. A couple of things still don't set right though.

  • I think there is too much contrast between the brown and beige colors. This can be overcome by changing the value of one or both colors to be closer together.
  • Even if the colors are less contrasting, I believe they are still too saturated. I do not mean to suggest that the theme should be grayscale. A more neutral theme would be less distracting from the window content.
  • I think the window control buttons (close, min, max) do not fit the rest of the design. Their outlines should fade out near the top, just as the widget borders in the previous mock-ups fade out at the bottom.
  • In response to the brown->black request being rejected, look at Artwork/Incoming/HardyDesign , "Orange on black is the general definition of what we want to achieve. The look can vary from modern to organic. The main idea is to create something which represents glass in a dark room being lit from below with a yellow light creating a gradient from light orange to a deeper red color..."

  • Great job!

-- TimScaffidi

I'm not an artist, but I've been following these changes with interest because I've felt the current Ubuntu theme is a little outdated. I personally enjoyed the glossy effects; I thought they gave the panels a bit more texture. They feel a little flat now, as if part of the desktop background, IMO.

-- adambargar 2021-10-20 00:54:33

I'm beginning the windows themselves now, and I'd like to post a link at this point on how the windows might be coming together:

Completely Transparent Window Effects

It won't be near what you see in the link, but it will manipulate the effect. Any suggestions or ideas for it's usage?

Aethralis: I'll play with the saturation and see how a less-saturated panel looks.

-- Ken

The new version (v3) is much better without the gloss, but I would think that the brown is too saturated.

-- Aethralis 2021-10-20 00:54:33

  • Guidelines I need to update the guidelines with the new info, as they too are getting outdated. Thoughts?

  • Gloss I've removed gloss completely from the theme, should it be re-added or is the new look better?

  • Colors By default the Ubuntu look is somewhat monochromatic, it's taken myself a long time to wrap my head around the colours, and I agree that an off-hue colour would be great. But it's the Ubuntu look, so there's not too much I can do with it. I can (and have been) working on a second theme based on the Blubuntu idea of a blue Ubuntu. There's a mockup on the main page, the "Shift" image.

  • Transparency The transparencies keep getting more subtle every update I make, and I think it will be manageable. If I do go over-the-top, please call me out on it!

  • Rounded Corners Great! I'm going to try to carry the corners into the notification box, but first I actually want to produce a window.

  • Overglossed buttons I agree on the gloss issue - the colour chart is actually horrendously out-of-date, so I'll probably take it down when I update the main wiki, and replace it soon with how buttons might actually look. The buttons will actually be much more subtle when finished.

-- Ken Vermette

  • Colors I agree with the reasoning for using different colors. However, I think that the choice of colors all very similar in hue is a mistake. There is a reason monochromatic color schemes are not widely used, and that is because of the lack of contrast. I know Ubuntu has decided on a brown color scheme, but this does not mean that every aspect of its design must be brown/orange/beige. I think the inclusion of a more neutral base color would not only be easier on the eyes, but allow for an additional method of attracting attention, namely different hues.

  • Transparency while it is a neat and flashy effect and could be argued to help by letting users know that there content is still safe underneath the new element, when over-used, transparency can be a great detriment to readability. This draw-back is overcome in Vista's Aero by the addition of a blurring of the contents underneath. However, it does look nice, and seems to be the current trend. Just make sure it is done well and does not hamper usability.

  • Rounded Corners In terms of the drop-down menu, this is the single greatest thing about the mock-ups in my opinion. They are attractive and stylish and also lead the users eye into the new element while implying it's relationship to the parent.

  • Active/Orange Elements The examples of active/orange elements for hte plastic and gloss schemes should alter more than just the outer glow. A glow implies that the element has become brighter, however these examples show the element at approximately the same brightness, with just an added glow. Changing the entire element's brightness or saturation would be a more immediate indicator as opposed to a small glow surrounding the element. I also don't think orange is the right choice for tool-tip backgrounds. As the middle color in terms of value, orange provides less contrast with the tool-tip text; in the current color scheme beige makes more sense.

  • Overall, while I dislike the near-monochromatic, deep-brown color scheme immensely (and not because I don't like the color brown), I am a big fan of the new style, especially the lack of that horrible 3D element look that's been around forever.

-- TimScaffidi 2021-10-20 00:54:33

  • Just a thought that came up was that the buttons for this theme are excellent they are too glossy for my liking (just a personal opinion) and that if they were toned down just a little (ie: blurred through the line in the middle, that seperates the 2 different colors, would make it look a little bit nicer). Remember that this is a personal opinion.
  • I really love the glossy look of the buttons and the whole theme for that matter! Its coming along really nicely! Only one thing though - is it really that hard to include a different colour scheme as an alternative to the brown? I mean, surely you could just have exactly the same button style but just change the colour of actual buttons? It would be really nice to see some fresh themes, something bright and Web 2.0 almost. gOS has done this and people like it.

-- Lmessenger 2007-11-27 21:54:43

  • I love the work that you're doing, and I think that it will end up being one of the best themes available. Only one point of criticism - in your new SVG versions, the glossy shine on the top of the top panel seems a bit too high (especially compared with the original mock-ups), and doesn't make the panel looked evenly curved.

-- Chiron3 2007-12-14 01:29:43

  • Great work! I think this theme will become one of the greatest themes ever seen. Smile :)

    • Since I've always watched without giving my suggestion here I am. I think that the general popup widgets (like tooltips, notifications, but also minimized windows buttons, workspaces buttons and wireless range task) should give an idea of "lightened". In the current mockup those widgets are drawn starting with a little lighter gradient and ending with a darker and larger one (especially notifications and workspaces buttons). Would be great if it'll be inverted, so with a little darker gradient at the beginning, which "lights up" till the end of the widget.

-- Wingman 2021-10-20 00:54:33

* Wow, that's really pretty. My only negative reaction was to some of the smaller color choices. The window border buttons are so brightly colored compared to the low-contrast brown theme that they seem to call attention to themselves and away from the more muted window content and panel icons. On the opposite extreme, the panel icons are so muted that it might not be obvious to a new user that [s]he can interact with them!

-- lurgy


Please post here if any issues may arise in this theme.

This is an awesome concept. I like themes in the darker color spectrum and this one is really balanced and well done. I'm not sure if it is technically possible to implement all of it within GNOME/GTK+ framework, but if it is (and I hope it is) I can see only two potential issues stemming from the dark nature of the theme:

  • Integration with QT. Some QT programs (e.g. QT Jack Control) seem to ignore desktop theme preferences. I tried using dark themes before, but had to switch back to something brighter because of the contrast.
  • The second issue is related to web pages. The majority of the web pages are rendered with white or very bright backgrounds which could give a contrast unpleasant to the eye, and since web-browsing is something a lot of people do frequently it has to be addressed. It may be possible to solve it by the transformation of browsers' color spectra.

-- Uga


Please post here if you have any correction that you would like to post.


Unsorted feedback, if you don't think your input goes anywhere else, it goes here!

This is gorgeous! I hope I don't take the discussion too far off-topic here, but if this ultimately gets developed into an available theme, have you considered offering it in different color schemes, maybe blue or green? Some folks don't enjoy the Ubuntu brown pallettes, and though yours is the best implementation of these colors I've seen yet, it would be great to see this same design using alternate colors. I'm sorry I can't comment too much on the minute details, as I'm not a designer... just a user. Thanks for listening, and thanks for designing this!


Hi again, a cpl more suggestions to use if you want:

  • Yes, the idea of a lighter beige seems good to me.
  • Reagarding the tooltips and notifications; should they really be orange and chocolate-glossy? They are active elements, but not interactive, and hence should not comply to the rules that interactive elements do. Having them imitate the visual features of the interactive interface - chocolate gloss, orange highlighting etc - would suggest they are interactive elements, potentially confusing the user. If you look at the present Gnome- and KDE notifications and tooltips, they look nothing like buttons or dropdowns, and that seems very sensible to me. I suggest you go for other visual features for these elements, though of course complying with the overall pallette and look'n'feel, underpinning the different nature of these elements as opposed to interactive ones.

--Lusepuster, Dec. 4th 00:38 gmt+1

Thanks again for the feedback, here's the next round of changes:

  • Kill the glow of dark letters on light backgrounds. Potentially, I could make the text darker (it's brown at the moment) in case too much visibility is lost. If that doesn't help, I might lighten the beige. I was thinking of lightening the beige anyways, so it might work out.
  • Improve the tool tip. It needs to be orange since it works as an active element. Give it similar colours as the selected item in the drop down?
  • The notification is sticky... Part of it needs to be orange, as it's a highlighted active element. Brown is for important info, and the gradient is there because it's a single element. The light bulb doesn't follow the Tango specification, so it's hard to make it fit because it blends into the orange. I'll try a few experiments and see what I come up with.

The updated image will appear around 5:00. Thanks again for the input, it's great stuff.


This was a genuine improvement! The added gloss on the panels is beautiful, and so is the new version of the menu. Having the gloss largely confined to the panels also helps the eye distinguishing between panel and workspace. Some more usability suggestions:

  • I still find the menu a bit hard to read. The glow of the letters, though faint and subtle, still blurs the outline. I suggest that is removed. The beauty of this theme is the clean lines of the vector graphics.
  • The tooltip is kinda hard to read. The Chocolate-on-orange gives a low contrast, and an even lighter border tends to blur the outline rather than emphasize it. How about swapping the colors of the background and the border? That would, I think, make the tooltip more readable and unintrusive. You could also consider removing the orange from the tooltip entirely, making it pure chocolate-on-baige with chocolate borders?
  • Gloss, blur and gradient together in the notification is a bit much and draws attention off the text in the notification box. A gradient peaking in the far end of the box does that alone. Light bulb without outlines makes me feel like I'm slightly drunk when looking at it, and the gloss symbolically hinders access to the information rather than underpinning it. On the other hand, the edge is beautiful and very consistent with the panels.

I hope My comments will be usable - please get me right, I love your theme and think it is very promising so far, which is why I spend time commenting on it. Good work, thank you!

--Lusepuster, Nov. 30th 15:30 gmt+1

Added the 4 alternate wallpapers I've been using. You can find them below the refined image posted earlier. --Ken

Great second version! I was wondering if you could post it again with the grass background, because the feathers make it look too "dark". Also, the notification pop-up is partly orange, so that it takes away from this mainly brown theme.

Thanks, -- Lmessenger 2007-11-30 00:32:12

I love this theme! Only, I think the latest revision was a bit of a regression from earlier versions. In general, it seems there's come too much Bling into it, by the cost of usability. A few comments:

  1. I think the light line parting the panels from the desktop should be a bit smaller, since to me they draw attention off the important stuff, which are the menu entries and whatever else is in the panels.
  2. The text in the dropdown menu is hard to read. I suggest you go for simplicity here - more 'satin', less 'gloss'.
  3. The indicator lights in the dropdown menu and the notification seem redundant to me, they only bloat the interface and draw attention off what's important.
  4. The light bulb in the notification deserves to be seen clearly, but without drawing too much attention. The 'halo' around it should, I think, be much more subtle if being there at all.

What I loved about earlier revisions of the theme is that it is stylish yet simple, easy on the eye and draws attention to what is important. I think that is an ideal to pursue further, instead of adding more Bling.

--Lusepuster Nov. 29th 14:40 gmt+1

PS: Also I like the Beige fonts in the panel better - still easily readable, less harsh contrast and a more simplistic color palette makes it easier on the eye IMHO.


Completely correct, and thank you for calling me on it (it's easy for me to get carried away, hence why I'm trying to go with rules alone)

I'm going to post a refined version of the SVG theme today, as I have both yours and Lmessengers' corrections to work on - I think it would justify an update in itself. I'm trying to find a way to get closer to the bitmap version (found in the links below the images for new readers) as that version has it's merits.

What I'll do:

  • Make fonts beige again
  • Make transparencies subtle again
  • Increase light bulb visibility
  • Remove halos. Those were bad, I'll say it too.
  • Make panel gloss more apparent, drop down gloss less dramatic

Some things will stay (at least for now), like panel line thickness. It fits the spec, and even though I don't like it as much, you can clearly tell the panels from the backdrop. Theres going to be alternate panels available without the lines anyway.


This theme looks great! Only one wish would be if it could be designed to work without Compiz/Beryl so that the visual interface would be applied but without the help of visual enhancers. Such as Windows or Mac, they have an excellent interface without the help of enhancers and it would be of great help to those that don't have such a great graphics card could be able to see this new theme.


-- Lmessenger 2007-11-26 18:25:09

That's an excellent call. How about we make 4 unique 'parts' for the theme?

  • Compiz/Emerald enabled for High-end machines (Transparency, Animations, etc)
  • Metacity for entry-level machines (No additional effects)
  • Gnome GTK Widgets.
  • KDE Widgets for Kubuntu and Ubuntu-KDE programs

Does this sound like a good plan? I haven't worked with KDE themes (only lamented them); if anyone would like, help tackling KDE would be great.

-- Ken

Yes, that would be an excellent idea. I would say that if we could involve any effects without Compiz/Emerald that would be pretty cool. Other than that I agree with you completely. Also, I was thinking that we could create a Launchpad group to help better this project.

--Lucas (Lmessenger)

I do want to apologize for this post, but there was something I would like to comment on. The mouse in this theme is quite visual enticing, but I think that because it has the "Web 2.0" style it adds to much punch into this theme, if an orange mouse that is not so "exciting", I think it would make this theme look better.

-- Lmessenger 2007-11-26 21:30:08

In GNOME windows can be resized by grabbing any edge/corner of the window. In the theme you include guides in the bottom corners of the windows. Do we really need those guides? What if the guides were completely removed? This would leave more space to the functional elements of the program and, as pointed out by Dpic, could make it "simple[r] and sweet[er]".

-- Uga


Artwork/Incoming/Hardy/Alternate/BasicIdeals/Ideas (last edited 2008-08-06 17:00:09 by localhost)