This spec describes proposed changes and improvements to gfxboot-theme-ubuntu in Ubuntu Lucid.

Release Note

The appearance and usability of the CD boot loader has been gently polished.


Current issues:

  • Styling (logo, colors) does not reflect recent changes to Ubuntu boot and desktop
  • Automatic timeout in the initial language selection screen can cause unintended language selection
  • User is presented with too many choices in the main menu screen, some of which are only useful in rare situations and only meaningful to technical users
  • The wording "Try Ubuntu without any changes to your computer" is awkward and potentially confusing
  • Hints appearing at the bottom (e.g. "Press F4 to select alternative start-up and installation modes") do not provide any added value for advanced users and may prove confusing to beginner users

Refer to hardy-bootloader-review for background, since this is not the first time we have undertaken polish work on the CD boot loader and there is some history here.


  • It's hard to change the language on the fly during a GNOME session; switching the language of running GTK+ applications is decidedly non-trivial
  • The timeout exists for two reasons: firstly, to let people walk away and have the system boot automatically in English; secondly, because some USB keyboards are known not to be usable in syslinux, and so without a timeout some systems would be entirely unbootable

  • Note that blind users have to enter the F5 menu anyway (we provide directions) to enable accessibility options at boot, so they aren't relying on the timeout
  • Graphics can be changed easily; fonts can be replaced but it's much easier if the metrics are identical

User stories

Joseph burned the Ubuntu CD and wants to test compatibility with his new laptop which has Windows preinstalled. He chooses "Try Ubuntu without installing" to run the live session.

Federico wants to install Ubuntu on his old family PC, which previously had Windows on it. He chooses Brazilian Portuguese from the language selection screen and "Install Ubuntu" from the main menu.

Mikhail wants to install Ubuntu on his friend's old PC. He chooses to check disks for defects and test memory prior to installation. There are issues with graphics hardware, but X automatically notices this at boot time and falls back to VESA.



Update the Ubuntu logo and colours to match the current styling.

Replace "Safe graphics mode" with bullet-proof X, but automatically fall back to VESA rather than asking since the system is known to be unconfigured.


Instead of relying on the boot loader to choose between the two major paths "Try Ubuntu" and "Install Ubuntu", the Desktop Experience team will develop a display manager greeter that offers this choice. This greeter will include language selection.

Design team spec (private)

Initial language selection

If the new greeter lands, then insert a "press any key"-type message before the main gfxboot menu (this requires some kind of iconic representation, since we do not yet know the user's language) with a five-second timeout, and drop the 30-second timeout from the main menu.

Change the wording in the first option to "Try Ubuntu without installing". (The design team will confirm final text for this option.)

Remove the "Press F4 ..." hint.

Test/Demo Plan

The design team will use daily builds to verify appropriate appearance; milestones are too infrequent for quick iterations. Fetch daily builds from and use something like kvm -m 512 -cdrom lucid-desktop-i386.iso, or (perhaps preferably) use testdrive.

Future work

Add a "troubleshoot" option to the greeter with options such as testing for CD defects, bad blocks, memory errors, etc. (Note that this will not really replace the boot-loader-level options: the more code you have to execute from the CD, the more likely it is that you'll run into a CD defect before being able to run the test!)


Lucid/GfxbootUpdate (last edited 2010-02-26 15:21:42 by 82-69-40-219)