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Creating the final theme for the ultimate release of the current LTS cycle while also looking forward to the future.

Release Note

Our target audience will be drawn to ubuntu because of the fresh bling and simple beauty of the OS. Through this we can fix bug#1


Every LTS cycle should represent a concise design direction which evolves over the course of the cycle in a well planned and managed way. Hardy is the last in the line of the current LTS cycle and should therefor fit well with it's brethren.


An official main color palette and secondary color palette will be defined, design principles and examples will be explained in the Artwork teams wiki page


In order to complete this work we need to address the following:


The name of the theme will not change.


Different ideas are presented in rough form and decisions are made piece by piece. This information will then be presented to the artist community for implementation.


Accompanying the process for approval is a strict timeline to be followed to ensure there is ample time for testing and tweaking for cohesiveness and completeness.

UI Changes

As we create the theme this will have an impact on other parts (like compiz effects, etc). All of this should be inline and use the same design principles.

Code Changes

Minor pieces of code might need to changed. We need to find people able to help with this.

Outstanding Issues

Themeing for Hardy is the last in this cycle, at the same time we need to look forward to the next LTS cycle and creating a new art direction which will evolve over the course of the next cycle. Some small parts of this new art direction will become part of the Hardy artwork due to the longer time involved in creating some parts (icon theme for example).

BoF agenda and discussion

I had an idea yesterday that I wanted to share.

This idea pertains to the shortcuts/launchers contained in the main menu.

What if we were to swap the contents of the "Name" field, with those of the "Commment" field.

Instead of an entry that says "Synaptic Package Manager", we have an entry that says "Install, remove, and update software"... much less intimidating for a new user.

The biggest problem for new users is a near complete lack of name recognition. By listing our menu items by function, instead of name, we make it so that new users can quickly and easily find their way around the menu. Of course, the name would be displayed when hovering over the item, as well as on the Title bar of the window that comes up when the button is clicked.

Of course this should be optional, so as not to turn away users who already are familiar with Ubuntu Linux.

I suggest using GFX GRUB or a GRUB theme for a fresher look, instead of just returning with the same boot loader style we've known since Ubuntu 6.06

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=601273 http://bobbyperux.deviantart.com/art/Noiro-Icons-58238056 http://bradwjensen.deviantart.com/art/Ubuntu-Theme-Mockup-67903127

i think you should take a look at this post, i really like the work done here and the idea of merging the toolbar and the windows bars together, the orange simplicity in the hard-drive icon gives it a very rich effect. even tough i prefer lighter themes, this is the only theme i have liked.

it would also be nice if we could use a grayscape effect on all the icons situated in the top right corner including the text for the time.

this is a good example of a minimalist theme, even tough we will have to make it look a bit different than the mac look, not to infringe with its patents.

the effects on the fonts look pretty good too.

id suggest having the inside of the window to be a light gray.

Just from the wide variety of different opinions and ideas represented here, I think my earlier idea of having multiple full-scale themes with a chooser at installation is closer to what's needed than I originally thought. There are a lot of good ideas here.

And we're getting a lot of speculation about what the theme is going to look like on this thread at Ars Technica. They've gotten wind that we're going to do it in orange and black and some of them have started calling it Ubuntu 8.04 Happy Halloween.

I invited them to join us, or stop talking smack.

Perhaps we could make a contest at http://www.Ubuntu-art.org and take the most popular ones from a few different genre's. That would leave the chosen themes up for more democratic voting. Focus could then switch to developing a choosing system during installation.

We'd still have to come up with a theme for the Live session, but I think that would be the ideal place for the minimalist theme mentioned below.

Having the Startup Manager installed (for bootsplashes) and the gnome-splashscreen-manager installed by default (or preferably added into the new "Appearance" app) would be a bonus for customization as well.

I feel we should try a minimalist design, with a very sleek font and taskbar. this would give a larger workspace and easier access to important features.

some do feel that these types of designs look too dull or harder to understand, they could use another theme designed with extra glossy stuff.

http://www.hexydes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=67&Itemid=9 i just read this page, and it basically is what any parent would act like. it would be helpfull if we showed a demo video of appropriate quality when the user installs his pc for the first time. if the video takes a lot of space, we could have a guided tour.[or a link to site] i am not sure if this is possible, but can the effects and everything be automated and mouse disabled the first time he uses ubuntu.

Here's an example of what a wooden skin might look like... note this is a Windowblinds skin by Stardock's Object Desktop. I'm just adding this for discussion's sake. Personally, I like glossy black stuff like UbuntuStudio's default.

Wood Theme

I see several comments about picking a hue, and I would suggest giving than option to the users. Of course we'd have to pick a default hue, and the earthy colors used until now are not a bad choice. However, I rather like the option to pick a general hue and have a palette built that uses that. (Vista has something like that; I haven't used it much, but it seems like a good idea.) This should be nicer than the current "pick ten colors for these objects", though I see no reason why that wouldn't be possible.

A more important thing: I think we should look beyond colors to textures. These are very important because it's easier for the eye & brain to follow textured surface rather than patches of uniform color. Most surfaces around you have small variations. Even paper isn't perfectly uniform. This gives a bit more info and helps orienting when moving the eyes. The brushed metal of OS X is a very good example: it has high-frequency components (ie, small detail), but very little contrast, so it helps with orientation without obscuring the real information on the window. Note also how scroll- and progress-bars and textured in OS X, to allow the user to easily compare lengths and positions.

The glossy and glassy features of OS X and Vista are also useful for this: the highlights serve as an excellent excuse to vary the color in a predictable manner on even-colored surfaces, which helps the brain orient itself. However this is a low-frequency feature so it works better for small widgets like buttons and icons. Also, it forces the brain into "3D-mode", which on big widgets is distracting. A fine texture is more useful for large surfaces. I suggest minerals, like sandstone, it matches Ubuntu's look. (Someone mentioned wood; that's harder to use because it has medium frequencies, which are distracting because they're close to text and icons in size.)

Someone also mentioned window borders (arguing they should be darker). I recommend we instead borrow another excellent idea from Mac OS X: The borders should be made as small as possible (many windows would work just great with just one contrasting pixel-wide border). Instead, window shadows are a great way to help the eye read the window stacking. This is very natural (the brain is used to using shadows for determining spatial relations, and it's very efficient from a screen-space perspective (you can see through a shadow). The translucent window title-bar of Vista is smart that way, too. (Note that translucent doesn't mean transparent. Vista title bars blur a bit stuff behind the window; simple transparency (as Compiz does for background windows' title bars) is less nice, because it lets through high frequencies, and makes more difficult reading the window's title.)

It might be nice to consider glows (instead of shadows), for windows on top of dark colors, but that might be harder technically.

I think we should also focus on the theming of the ubuntu media player, as most people get frustrated when their player wont suit them or the os. we can try to integrate the player in to the desktop so the user can listen to music while multitasking.

I think the suggestion to allow the user to pick a hue is great.

I think Ubuntu should not borrow, but be innovative.

Vista has a glassy interface, Mac has a metallic interface - so what's good for us in keeping with the current general syle?

  • Um, Vista has glass, Mac has metallic... that leaves wood, water, plastic, flesh, gelatin, and the stuff they put in Twinkies. We could keep something near the current color scheme and use a woodgrain panel skin, with metallic accents. Think Steampunk. That would be sort of a continuation of current theme, but with added visual values. Basswood is kind of orange, poplar varies from yellow through green to purple...

    http://www.northeasternscalelumber.com/osc/catalog/images/basswood.gif check out the African Mahogany

    http://www.trustile.com/options/materials.asp?cid=288 It could look pretty classy if done well. EDIT: Forgot marble, or some other kind of mineral

    • That would work pretty well...
      • Would reflect our rock-solid stability. Smile :)

Proposed Theme: EARTH Many of the themes on other distros are blue with a few green (Mint/SUSE). I suggest TEAL accented with blue and green. It would be a little different than the the other distros. It could consist of the gradient swirls that are popular.

To make the desktop image more interesting a map image could be generated with green swirls on land and blue swirls representing the water bodies. The orientations could be diagonal turned on its side, oblique perspective, or even mirrored. For example I'm on the Oregon coast so a map generated for me might span from Baja, Mexico on the left to Vancouver Island on the right. The desktop background would be interesting and relevant to each user. The emphases should be on the esthetics and useablity rather than map accuracy or detail. These images could be made by artists (a couple of images per continent) or generated by a program.

Small earth theme accents could be added to a few of the icons: Leafs, blades of grass, fruit, nuts, trees (oak, pine & palm), mountain peak, snow flake, water drop, waterfall, ladybug, bird. fish.

Earth like Human is a non tech universal theme.

Alternate EARTH Transition Theme Another approach is to start with the HUMAN brown theme and add blues and greens to it with each release. The theme will grow with each release much like a plant and Ubuntu. The above theme could then be used for the following LTS 10.4? theme.

I really like that idea, I thought of it myself a while back, check out my screenshot:


The moon is actually set up to be my home folder. email me if you like the theme, I'm putting together a guide on my website soon. (email siraf (dot) lyrics (at) gmail (dot) com)

I've noticed the layout for Ubuntu hasn't really changed since Warty, and is staying with the default Gnome standard. Maybe time could also be invested in reconsidering all aspects of the desktop with the hope of providing a more useful and intuitive default layout. Warty was, in my eyes, a proof of concept, a mk.1 just to make sure the thing compiles and as a standard base to build off of. I certainly do not think that the current UI is the best it can be and simply changing the theme without looking at the UI as a whole is a bit pointless.

I think the new theme should be based on gems, since their beauty is completely undeniable. Maybe an...emerald...could be the gem of choice. *hint hint, wink wink*

Windows might be using emerald for their next theme.

First let me start off by saying I am not sure where to place my comments and if I have chosen incorrectly I apologize.

It appears that there is two major choices to the design that should be considered early. First the colors. This will define the overall feel and give direction to what the background should/could be. The second important choice is if the default GNOME layout will be kept.

For what it is worth I believe the default layout while lacking spunk should remain. It offers users a standardized interface that they can customize easily with the help of sites like gnome-look.org. This flexibility could easily be lost if a custom GNOME layout is used.

For the colors I like the concept of using EARTH as a metaphor(?). One idea I would love to see considered is the use of a darker window border. I say this because most of the people I know currently using GNOME use some sort of dark window border. I also see many XP users utilizing the Zune or Royal Noir theme. In both cases it is typically just the window borders that are dark. I also like the suggestion of using green. It is often a color used to represent earth and off the top of my head I cannot think of another distro or OS utilizing it as a primary color. The danger here is it may look odd with the larger Ubuntu theme of oranges and red.

Anyways I hope that I may contribute to this project and look forward to seeing the results.

PROPOSAL: Diverse Multiple Themes Chosen During Installation

If you really want to take 8.04 to a different level when it comes to themes, you need to think outside the box a little bit.

For instance, I think it would be nice to demonstrate a little more variety of what is possible by including more diverse themes with the initial install. The current selection of default included themes are pretty much a bunch of "also-rans." Several themes could be created (with appropriate wallpapers linked) that change the entire look DRASTICALLY. Themes included shouldn't just be a little smoother, or slightly different buttons. I'm talking about skinned panels using some wrapping PNG's (Flames? Spikes? Wildflowers? Hearts? Chains? Abstract?) Do an "earth" based one, yes, but also do one gothic, one gaudy/bling, one classic, one thats classy, one thats silly, one thats nostalgic with a "sepia" tone, one that's borderline insane. One black, one white, one green, etc, etc.

These themes should include window dressing, font, panel colors/skin, wallpaper, cursor, icons, and controls as well as Login theme usplash and grub backround. Pretty much everything that can be changed.

You should have theme selection included in the installation process via thumbnails. After installation, your theme will be active when you boot into your newly installed system for the first time.

Stop trying to make one desktop "look" work for all users, when you know that as soon as they figure out how, they're just going to change it anyway.

In this way, you could have a theme contest with various theme genres and have several winning themes, with a bland unassuming non-threatening theme used for the live session. I wouldn't make all the themes available during the Live session as it's wasteful of RAM during a time when it's crucial to have as much free as possible.

Make the terminal partially transparent by default, just for the looks. Offer to turn off transparency via a tooltip.

That's a big problem for new users... the lack of foreknowledge of what features exist and how they are used.

Having some tooltip help features for new users would alleviate this. Power users should be able to disable the "training wheels" in a few clicks, or even preemptively during install, but for the clueless, it can make a big difference in the amount of time it takes to become "at home" with the change to a new OS.

A tooltip could advise users that they can add applets to the panels, or change the theme. A message explaining screensaver options would be handy the first time the screensaver comes up. A tooltip about the Add/Remove feature would be handy maybe the 10th time you open up the main menu. And a tooltip for Synaptic would be handy maybe the third or fourth time that you used Add/Remove. After you've viewed 50 pictures with Eye of Gnome, give some information about GIMP. Some things are obvious, yes? Have the obvious things lead to the not-so-obvious. Natural progression of learning curve.

First time a new user tries to open a file with .exe extension, offer to install wine, after explaining what it is, and what its limitations are.

Also, "Live Help" button to bring up the #ubuntu irc channel in irssi would be a nice default layout addition... making an alias called LiveHelp or something like that would enable new users to get IRC help chat support even when X is not functioning. I realize the new bulletproof-X system should keep that from happening, but if it DOES drop to the terminal, a message saying "type 'LiveHelp' to enter Ubuntu Help Chat" would be just about invaluable.

Ubuntu is by far the friendliest of Linux distros, but it can be even more friendly.

I've heard it said that the best distro of Linux for new users to try is the distro their friend recommends, because that means they will have help. But there will be a lot of people trying this who don't have any Linux user friends. I'm talking about people who just heard by word of mouth and got fed up with their old setup, or they're very brave, or just naturally curious. The more at home we can make people feel from the very start, the less anxiety they will have. And anxiety is conversely proportionate to quality of the experience.

I second keeping the current default gnome layout. Having the desktop layout mostly the same from one version to the next helps give a general feeling of stability. When I upgraded to Gutsy, I had a heck of a time figuring out where to change my theme and cursors. It took a while to realize they had been married together under Appearance. Either I missed the changelog or there wasn't one.

  • I realize all of these ideas don't belong in here. Can't help it. Don't know where they're supposed to go.

The theme should be ,Odly attractive, In the next release we should go with a very different scheme. lets try to put an end to gradients, users are getting bored of the shine.

Im not happy with the earth theme as it doesnt bring the ubuntu feel into it. we could try a more creative theme.

Instead of creating a dozen different themes, why not create a few unique themes with drastic changes. I suggest the user can select the theme when the install is complete and reboots, this way he can see the theme practically.

we could also merge the taskbars into one at the top. the reason i say this is that most old computers that use ubuntu have resolutions of 800 x 600

I think there should be themes available for people who use other systems to make them feel at home. There are the old classic themes that look like BeOS, XP, or whatever, but Ubuntu doesn't come with anything that looks like newer systems (like Leopard or Vista). I'm not saying spend a lot of time on it, but 2 themes that borrow design cues from Leopard and Vista out of the box would be nice.

Faux Vista could be called something like "Mira" or some other play on words. Should have transparent borders and rounded edges with close-minimize buttons on right. Nothing to special, should be able to be assembled from already available stuff on Gnome-Look

Faux Leopard could be called something like "Pussy Cat" or whatever. Should have gray rounded borders, rounded white drop downs, minimize-close buttons on the left.

It would be nice if these were vector art Cairo themes as well. Both should be usable at 800x600 as mentioned above so cornballs that use them can show their friends how hot their desktop looks even though they're running old hardware.

As for the default theme, Human 3.0, the new color palette should be directly correlated to some type of Human Interface Guidelines. The colors in previous Human themes were a little harsh for my tastes. The default wallpaper is brownish orangeish and in combination with the sort-of-tannish interface elements I start wondering if there's something wrong with my LCD. I think I prefer the use of warmer colors as a way of highlighting interface elements instead of completely covering entire interfaces. Brown can be a calming color but orange is like the universal color of danger. I like the use of white drop menus with light tan hover overs on the Ubuntu homepage. Why not go with that? A simple top to bottom gradient for wallpaper would be nice too. Or include Creative Commons photographic wallpaper of some African landscapes or something!

<quote> Themes included shouldn't just be a little smoother, or slightly different buttons. I'm talking about skinned panels using some wrapping PNG's (Flames? Spikes? Wildflowers? Hearts? Chains? Abstract?) </quote>

I would like to second the writer above who suggested hearts or wildflowers. Speaking as a 22yo female ubuntu user I have felt that the standard themes are heavily on the high contrast, dark, or plain side (not really girl-friendly!). Windows '98 had the 'Rose' theme and Mac's are always pretty but I am sure that there are plenty of younger, female users who would appreciate a distro that reflected their tastes in the default appearances options.

The standard Ubuntu 'Human' theme one is certainly pleasing to the eye, but if we are going to allow more themes at install or even just in the appearances tab it would be nice to have just one theme that's pink or purple with some stars or something that is clearly aiming at a "female age 10 to 20" bracket. An example would be the 'Lila' icon theme from gnome look - it's purple, rounded and cute; and is still plain enough that it would not look out of place next to the other usual themes.

Would it be possible to do a panel with a gradient of transparency? Something that would fade from opaque at desktop edge, to transparent at the border, and seem to meld with the background?

Also, I second this:

I think there should be themes available for people who use other systems to make them feel at home. There are the old classic themes that look like BeOS, XP, or whatever, but Ubuntu doesn't come with anything that looks like newer systems (like Leopard or Vista). I'm not saying spend a lot of time on it, but 2 themes that borrow design cues from Leopard and Vista out of the box would be nice.

...and add that a new screen of the installer could ask the question of what operating system the user is most familiar with and set the theme accordingly, gearing everything for a familiar feeling first boot. This is the point where someone could stipulate that they are familiar with Ubuntu and disable the previously proposed tooltip help system.

Theming can be taken quite far by simply having the user pick their favorite color (maybe just hue?) and using that to derive the rest. The new Clearlooks Customize appearance dialog contains 8 colors that can be changed. However the blue highlight color is the important one to change. The rest are just black text and a light background. Also limiting the user to just a hue change makes it much easier to push the change out to the other non-gtk items. Images are still tricky as making purple puppy splash screens doesn't quite work. The abstract swirlies are easy enough to re-tint though.

Something bold and different like this theme(the blue theme) cound be refined for usability. One thing we have an issues with on the free software desktop is an addiction to grays(some slightly hued) and a lack of color. A good combo of colors can solve many of the issues non fray/white themes have.

I think i would like to choose my own colour scheme by selecting the hue :] If we can enable transparency without sacrificing system recources, It would be nice to change the transparency of the entire theme at once, [that would exclude the fonts, interior window, icons etc] this is a collection of wallpapers ; it would be great if we could learn and inspire our art from it, great stuff. http://news.deviantart.com/article/28138/

A Report From the Ubuntu Developer Summit on the Hardy Heron Theme http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20071101-hardy-heron-visual-theme-planned-at-the-ubuntu-developer-summit.html

There are 2 interesting articles that cover Ubuntu's usability & look and feel: Ubuntu 7.10 Pragmatic Visual Presentation Critique I, Ubuntu 7.10 Pragmatic Visual and Behavioral Critique II. I think you'll find them very useful.

The earth theme is a great idea, but it is also important to keep the basics alive, I mean Ubuntu is based on Africa so let's keep it that way, the orange theme should be modified to include some new color like green and dark blue, why don't we try making a wallpaper that changes depending on the time of the day, that's already been implemented in other distributions like fedora 8 and others, in this case we would have something like blue in ther morning, orange at mid-day and green by night but keeping the wallpaper based in landscapes of Africa. And the changes in color would give the final user an idea of a living and natural wallpaper.

I love the idea of automatically changing the wallpapers with time. i hope this is implemented.

I'd love to see the idea of multiple COLOURFUL themes implemented. I really believe that this is an excellent idea. Its been far too long since linux distros shipped a nice selection of themes. The themes need to vary, enough of this "oh look, the colour has changed a tiny bit". Lets be brave and ship some really colourful and aesthetically pleasing themes!!!

So here is the idea of the changing wallpaper over time, i don't know anything about art or how does gimp works jeje but i did my best just to make a draft of the basic idea of a changing wallpaper. Here it is https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Artwork/Incoming/Hardy/Alternate/AfricaColors

I just want to iterate that I think that a theme that uses black backgrounds for window widgets is a very bad idea in my opinion (I see that several of the mockups go in this direction). While cool-looking, such themes are shunned by just about every OS/distro in existance, and for good reason. You will also not see it on any kind of popular commercial website soon. It's just hard on people with visibility problems. Please consider usability while selecting your default theme. Thank you.

Here's my say: orange for a computer? brown? not working. Honestly, I love Fedoras sky theme, it's not as bright as it could be, but it is neat. What about a "airborne" theme for ubuntu? That would be nice. It needs to be something - diffrent, it should stick out from other linux distros somehow - like you all were saying about being diffrent from other operaing systems.

Another thing: include SEVERAL themes. 1 isn't very cool if you are new and don't like it, like the color changing thing.

So my question is, how is this stuff finally decided upon? Who makes the decision to go with what? Is it voted on? Where? And art submissions... I can't start creating til I know generally what I'm trying to create.

The more time spent equivocating, the less time dedicated to the actual artwork. Unless we just grab some stuff from the Ubuntu theme site and pray they're not copywritten by anyone else.

Good art takes time. Thats all I'm saying. Last version I saw only 3 different wallpapers included. Chocolaty swirl one, Elephant skin one, and Pink. Why weren't the wallpapers from earlier versions included as well? Our selection should increase, not diminish or stay immobile. We're the distro thats all about choice, no?

Results from UDS


  • Radically changed lots of stuff for this long term release
  • Define the process:
    • Definition of the color palette in advance
  • Start working on changes a lot earlier in the process to make sure any changes do not "break" other parts
  • Find coders to handle the parts that artists either do not know or are not willing to learn
  • Big Issue: Change the Name of the Theme
    • Either change the name to something like "Human 3.0" or...
  • Everything we want to change:
    • Installer Picture
    • Usplash -- Traditionally Installer Picture and Usplash have used the same image
      • These two will be changed in Ubuntu, Kubuntu, and Edubuntu
    • GDM
    • Wallpaper
    • Application Splash
      • Keep as little as possible
      • GIMP and OpenOffice

      • Use the same in the Example Look section
    • GTK+ -- Work with a coder (Andrea Cimitan, Murrine-author) on this
    • Compiz Effects
    • Metacity
    • Installer
      • Show some form of graphics during the install phase, but do not think this is going to happen in this release cycle
    • Cursor Theme
      • Across Kubuntu,Edubuntu and Ubuntu
  • Look at Tango Guidelines
  • Color Palette
  • Design
  • Target Audience
    • Needs true defintion, current Target is "Everybody", working on defining who it will be
    • Will follow with the next "marketing" goal of 8.04 LTS
  • WINE
  • WUBI
  • QT/KDE applications: I'd suggest to create a qt-theme similar to the GTK+ one to have a completely uniform desktop (I mean something like QtCurve, but GNOME based)


  • Minor Changes, distinct important changes due to KDE4 comming out
  • Changing the Desktop Splash
    • Discussing whether or not to use it, but this is a technical discussion and not an artwork/theme issue
  • Amarok Theme
    • Will not change between KDE3 and KDE4
    • Need to change theme for Hardy
  • GTK+ applications: I'd suggest to create a GTK+ similar to the KDE/QT one to have a completely uniform desktop (I mean something like QtCurve)

Ubuntu Studio

  • Working with the Studio theme, how can we use all the different pieces and parts



While you can certainly make the theme prettier by redoing the artwork in different colors, etc., it won't really be an *improvement*. What about a user interface that's actually more functional. For example, you could start by wasting less of the screen on titlebars and whatnot: windows could literally just be the contents of the window, with no borders or anything visible until you drag the mouse over the top right corner or something.

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DesktopTeam/Specs/HardyTheme (last edited 2008-08-06 16:19:48 by localhost)