Open Source

The new Ubuntu look

The new Ubuntu "looks" were announced a while back and Jack Wallen is far from "impressed." Read on to see what Jack thinks of Ubuntu's bold new look (and what he thinks Ubuntu should really be doing).

Figure A

Recently it was reported that Ubuntu 10.4 was going to ship with a snazzy new GTK theme that would, by default, enable transparency to bring the Ubuntu GNOME desktop on par with the modern look of, say, Windows 7. Take a look at Figure A to get an idea of what I'm talking about. This image was one that has bounced around the Ubuntu "rumor mill."

I've been using Lucid Lynx for some time now (and am rather impressed so far). I've tried to find the ability to install or enable this look, but to no avail. I've added the correct repositories, but have come up with nothing that allows for transparent windows (outside of Compiz).

Figure B

This had been going on for a few weeks - before the Ubuntu community became alive with thrills and chills upon the announcement of the new Ubuntu Lucid Lynx looks. First there is the new Ubuntu Logo (See Figure B). Wow. Okay...not impressed (and what about the tattoo I have of the original Ubuntu logo - does that just go to prove I'm nothing but "old school" now?) The original logo oozed the very core of what Ubuntu was Now, it just looks like someone's lame attempt at making a T-shirt for Cafe Press.

Figure C

And then there are the new themes: Impression and Night Impression. These are really what had the community excited. Figure C shows the Impression theme and Figure D shows the Night Impression theme.

Figure D

Have you picked yourself up from your chair? Are you able to see through the awe and admiration in your eyes? To me they look like someone just adjusted the color settings on the default theme and then slapped on a different background. Yeah, I know they are cleaning up the code base so theme coding is easier and cleaner. But the average they see the code base? Not so much.

Here's my thing...if the Ubuntu community wants to really wow the public with a release then simply do this:

You already have basic Compiz support rolled in. Beef that up (by adding the Cube and Cube rotation, 3D windows, and a few extra bells and whistles) and then install and enable Emerald by default. You can even set opacity of specific windows through Compiz so, what the heck, enable that as well.

What I am getting at is this: The Linux community has the ability to create a distribution that would really WOW the public. The Elive distribution comes about as close to this as any other distribution. I know that eye candy isn't really all that important for an operating least not in its functionality. But take a look at what the public is buying en mass - Apple. Why? Because they place an importance on aesthetics few other companies can match. And look at the evolution of the Windows GUI. From Windows 2000 to XP to Vista to 7 - it's all been a progression of (among other things) aesthetics. Linux needs to follow suit.

I have been a big champion of Linux really pushing itself into the forefront of innovation. Why? Because that is one of the strengths of the open source community. The distributions need to take advantage of that and place more effort on making Linux look like something the public wants and needs.  The day that a Linux distribution realizes this, and makes something so cool that people can't resist, that old school idea of world domination might just come true.

Ubuntu has really missed the boat on this one. They have the underlying technology to take their Linux distribution way ahead of the pack. Instead they tinker with a few colors and call it a day. Make a statement Ubuntu! If you want to really make an "Impression" don't think, for a second, those new "themes" will do just that.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website

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