Ubuntu Without a Human Face
The big news out of the Ubuntu world this month is the radically refurbished look introduced to accompany Lucid when it’s released in April, replacing the orange-brown “Human” theme that Ubuntu users have known and loved–or not–since 2004. Here’s a look at the new face of Ubuntu, with an attempt at abstract thoughts related to it.
Ubuntu’s traditional theme never enjoyed universal acceptance. For some users, earth tones just didn’t look right on an LCD display. For others, there wasn’t enough contrast between colors.
Personally, I grew to like the Human theme, despite all the controversy. I can’t say I was in love with it at first sight, but it grew on me–and not only because the orange-on-brown color scheme brought pleasant thoughts of the chocolate orange that’s given to me every year at Christmas. Indeed, I suspect that the conventional look grew on a lot of Ubuntu users, if only because they used it long enough that it became familiar and comforting.
After all, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, taste is a construct; we’re conditioned to be attracted to certain styles, and what appeals one day might lose its attractive qualities the next. The beige IBM PS/2 in my basement looked stylish once, too. Now it looks as dull as the Windows 3.1 that it ran.
The New Ubuntu
Regardless of what we think of the Human theme, it’s now on its way to the dustbin of history, to use an overstated phrase. Beginning with Ubuntu 10.04, the operating system will have a radically new look, with the “Ambiance” theme installed by default.
Pictures are worth something like a thousand words, so here’s a more detailed presentation of Ambiance:
I can’t say I feel strongly either way about the new theme at this point. It seems a little too dark, and a little too much like OS X, for my tastes, but I imagine it will grow on me in time. That’s how life works.
In any case, an updated look for Ubuntu was long overdue, if only because the theme had yet to be meaningfully revamped in the six years of Ubuntu’s existence–and in the free-software world, six years, which spanned almost a dozen Ubuntu releases, is a long, long time. In that sense, Ubuntu without a human face can’t hurt.