When looking into screenshots of KDE, Windows Vista or MacOS X you will notice that they killed most of the grey from their Desktop and replaced it by colors or black. None of the themes is absolutely great but they all look very pretty and modern.

I am a really bad artist but when I look at our Clearlooks or Ubuntu Human themes I feel they are very drab. This is not about usability which is definitely great but just about the impression you get the first time you fire-up your GNOME Desktop. Everything grey, grey panels, grey window, grey taskbar, etc. Too much grey. Too much 90’s.

Of course grey has the advantage of being a neutral color but couldn’t we set some colored accents on the Desktop? Has everything to be clean, cold and neutral?

As I said before, I am bad artist and won’t be much help on this topic but might anybody want to add a bit more color to the clearlooks theme? The clearlooks engine is really rocking but I think we could gain a much better user impression with more and better colors. I searched on art.gnome.org but did not find anything that could fill this gap for me.

18 Responses to “Give more color to the world!”

  1. yop Says:

    OS X Leopard is all about grey…

  2. Arangel Says:


    I completely agree with you.

    Btw, i’ve found this theme, it’s called Xenon, check it out:

  3. Tobias Says:

    It’s not only the grey (KDE and Mac OS X have both a lot of grey.) but it’s the missing “blink”. Gnome is also missing the small animations…

  4. FWIW, I find all those black or dark grey themes ugly and unusable: would you really like to stare at a white on black screen all day?

    Or, worse, grey on black?

    I wouldn’t 🙂

  5. smejky Says:

    I think, you’re right. Free software itself needs more colors!

  6. Karl Lattimer Says:

    two points of language points I picked up on

    “To much 90’s.” should be “Too much 90’s” and Drap should be Drab…

    Now that my anal english is out of the way…

    Have you tried Gummy Gillouche? It puts the b in Subtle, nice colours, and pretty… It uses the default colour scheme of SLED, I feel this should be the default colour scheme of GNOME too.

  7. Bart Says:

    did you know why Mac looks mostly so cool?

    They design first and start coding after not vice versa 🙂
    I had a long very interesting talk with a developer worked at Apple.

  8. Juri Pakaste Says:

    Echoing what yop said: OS X, especially Leopard, is mostly grey. All windows are different shades of grey, toolbars are all grey (except the ones that are black), menubar icons are black and grey. About the only colors in UI controls are different shades of blue, and few of those are very saturated.

    Compared to it, Gnome is really heavy on small, rather brightly colored icons. I’m not sure which I like better, but I’m pretty certain I wouldn’t want more colours in the user interface. Bright colours tend to be distracting, and the user interface shouldn’t draw attention away from the content of your windows.

  9. Calum Says:

    Personally, I’ve always secretly wished we could get rid of themes, and allow our artists to build one (or maybe two or three closely related), kickass GNOME or freedesktop “theme(s)”.

    That’s one of the reasons OS X and Windows look as polished as they do– their visual designers can concentrate on finely honing every pixel, without having to worry about things like “will this window still work if the user decides to use different buttons?” The very fact that we have to make everything themeable slows down development, generates bugs, makes our stuff run slower, and ultimately limits our ability to innovate on the desktop, IMHO.

    A nice side effect would be that, finally, our desktop would be immediately identifiable as “GNOME”, wherever it’s run and whoever’s running it– instant brand awareness 🙂 (Of course, accessible visuals would still have to be supported, but OS X and Windows both manage that too.)

  10. Andrew Says:

    In the past I have had people use a GNOME desktop for the first time and say the gray decor reminds them of Windows 2000.

  11. simontol Says:

    When I think “more color” I think at something like this:

    Please stop the dark-desktop trend… It’s so sad!

  12. ato Says:

    I love gray!

  13. AGREED Says:

    I fully agree. I posted before I thought ubuntu should try to model the desktop design after a wooden desktop or using lots of tans, like Apple has ton with metals, but instead wood. There’s no gray at all in wood, just tans and browns and stuff.

    Or, for another analogy, at least where I leave, making it look like the modern colors people paint there homes in the modern years. A bunch of different tans again. Tan is a neutral color that fits Ubuntu’s color scheme goals very well. Vibrant browns, tans, peaches, etc can work great, and Ubuntu needs to bring them out, they are more natural then then gray.

  14. Matt W Says:

    Well I love the grey with bright highlights. I’ve currently got a fairly intense mid green as the Clearlooks selection colour on my laptop, with a light grey base and I think it looks really bright and cheerful.

    My desktop has similar, but the selection colour is a crimson sort of hue which makes everything feel much richer and altogether odder. Of course, that colour isn’t visible on initial login but the default wallpapers these days are pretty snazzy.

    And I don’t think distros would like a fixed GNOME theme – they’re too used to doing their own ugly branding.

  15. je Says:

    Sometimes I find myself wasting time, trying out different themes, etc. I always seem to end up back where I started, using the default theme that ships with GNOME. Only thing I’ve found I stick with is the Gilouche window decoration.

    Also one thing I noticed about KDE 4 that was kinda interesting. I was kinda wondering why their main panel was black, and then in recent screenshots I clued into the fact that it’s style is based on the Plasma widget theme.

  16. Murat Says:

    In response to those who point to the fact that OSX is mostly gray:

    The strength of the OSX design lies in its very ability to *break* the blandness of the gray that it uses all over the place. With theme elements that make sparse use of sparse bold, saturated color, with detailed, colorful, emotion provoking, high resolution icons, with smooth, anti-aliased accentuation of gray theme elements, and more.

    Our current monochromatism and lack of contrast can only be amended by more courage to break the norms we put in for good effect, better coordination between people responsible from desktop technologies and theme designers, and better knowledge of design history.

  17. nicu buculei Says:

    I like grey. It is very neutral and unobtrusive. Boring is good, my attention can focus to the content.

    I hate the themes that hurt my eyes with very bright colors.

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