Time for a change..
The new style of Ubuntu is driven by the theme “Light”. We’ve developed a comprehensive set of visual guidelines and treatments that reflect that style, and are updating key assets like the logo accordingly. The new theme takes effect in 10.04 LTS and will define our look and feel for several years.
Back in October 2008 at the Ubuntu Intrepid Release Party in London we celebrated the release of Ubuntu 8.10. It was a great party with loads of Canonical and Ubuntu Community representation present. In the UK the London release parties are usually an opportunity to kick back, have a beer or five and celebrate. One or two laptops can usually be seen, but most hands are tightly grasping glasses of ale than CD-Rs.
Ok, not really. One thing that Mark did talk about was the need for long term plans for the desktop look and feel, and how he envisaged the Ubuntu Desktop in the years to come. Being impatient I wanted to know what was going to happen, and I wanted whatever it was to happen now! He didn’t say anything specific about the detail at all. When I pressed him I think his exact words were an incredulous “I’m not telling you that!”.
One thing we discussed in detail was the user experience, and how we (the Ubuntu project) need to raise our game. He was keen on the prospect that users didn’t see Ubuntu as an 2nd class citizen when compared to the alternatives like Windows and OSX. He said he wanted people to actively “choose Ubuntu” because of its features and how beautiful it is. He wants to show new users that we’re better than the competition, rather than people just considering us an also-ran.
I came away from that evening with my head spinning.
I was very, very drunk.
Almost exactly a year later I attended an event setup by BT, IBM and Canonical called Accelerating Enterprise adoption of Open Source Software along with The Alans from The Open Learning Centre. The event itself was a great idea, but didn’t quite get the attendance we’d hoped for.
Photos © Paul Sumner Downey
Mark took part in some open discussion moderated by Glyn Moody, and gave a keynote speech. In it he focussed on cloud computing, the underlying technologies and convincing businesses of it’s advantages. However he introduced the keynote with a little story.
He told of how he’s keeps getting people approach him saying “Love Ubuntu, but dude! brown!?”. This of course caused a ripple of laughter from members of the audience familiar with the brown desktop some of us have come to know and
hate love. He continued “more recently my design team have approached me and said ‘Mark! Aubergine!'”. He highlighted that he was wearing an aubergine coloured shirt and then pointed to me (in the front row) and said “popey! shush!” which I thought was amusing, but which also left me perplexed.
Well, with todays announcement that ‘aubergine’ comment makes sense.
The new brand has been announced and documented which shows the significant work that has gone into the Ubuntu brand refresh. Canonical have put together a world-class design team to come up with these changes. It’s no secret that over the last few releases Ubuntu has been changing, with some of those changes making it through to the release already. The new notification system, a brighter default desktop background, changed update manager behaviour and multiple delivered backdrops to choose from are all stepping stones towards something bigger. It’s alll change for the font, logo, colours, brand and textures.
Whilst the fact that Canonical have been working on this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone close to the Ubuntu project, today it’s become public. With the announcement just released we can now talk about the new Ubuntu brand, and start working on integrating the proposed changes.
Canonical reached out to the governance boards of the Ubuntu project to gain feedback and ensure they approached this in the best possible way. Numerous key members of our community were invited to Canonical in London to learn how the decisions had been made, and the current plans for the project. In the past I think Canonical might have just dumped this on the world with no consultation, so this is a great step towards more openness and helps dispel the myth that Canonical don’t engage.
The refresh covers a lot of ground. One of the most notable (prompting this blog title) is the move away from brown to orange. Personally I’ve never really had a problem with the brown. I quite like it in fact. I realise others don’t though, and whilst I’m a little sad to see us move away from the human, earthy colours of our heritage, I’m also happy to embrace the new look and feel. It’s fresh and polished, just as it should be.
The colours from the circle of friends logo will be missed, but some might argue it’s time for the logo to mature. Perhaps the old logo looks too child-like, which has suited Ubuntu for over 5 years now, but now we’re a big 6 year old, it’s time to move on, put away the crayons and grow up.
The new logo at the top of this article has a new typeface called ‘Ubuntu’ and whilst it’s nowhere near finished (last count I think they had about 15 characters done) it will eventually replace the old Ubuntu Title font.
Canonical are looking to get community involvement in helping develop this font – which looks like it will become the default at some point. Clearly the first characters to be done were “ubnt” for Ubuntu and “CANOIL” for the Canonical logo – which borrows a person from the Ubuntu circle of friends and sticks her in the “O”.
Indeed there will need to be a lot of community involvement across the board. From desktop developers to community website contributors and everyone in between.
I’m loving these themes.
What do you think?