Project Aura (or, The future of gnome-themes)

One of the interesting comments I got from someone while I was manning the GNOME stand at LinuxWorld London a few weeks back, was that a lot of the themes that come with GNOME look very similar. I had a quick look and actually it’s true – if you look at Simple and Mist for example, the style of the appearance is very similar. With the move to cairo currently underway in gtk-engines, I have been wondering what to do about some of the older engines such as Crux and Lighthouseblue. Do we clean out gnome-themes and replace the old themes with fresh new ones, or do we revamp the old ones in a clean new style? Cleaning out themes would mean people upgrading would have all their old themes disappear, but it would give us more flexibility to do a really good job. On the other hand, revamping the current themes is probably a lot less work and more likely to get done quicker.

This sparked an interesting discussion in #marketing on about whether GNOME is fun for users, where Wanda inevitably got mentioned. I’ll write something about it some other time, but it is important that we make GNOME fun and exciting to use.

Andreas Nilsson has already mentioned to me the idea of doing a “kids” (see left) theme, using the icons from the gartoon icon theme, and some bright and bold colours he’s been working on. He has also come up with the suggestion for a ‘sports’ theme, which reminded me of the themes that used to come with Windows 98 or the Plus! pack for Windows 95. These are themes that to most of us (probably) as developers seem pointless, but they are just the sort of thing users love!

So, Luca has already sent an e-mail out to the gnome-themes-list, and I have replied with some more thoughts. However, we need as many people as possible to get involved in the discussion, so if you are interested about the future of themes in GNOME, sign up to the list and make your comments known!

GNOME T-Shirts


I have 2 XL, 3 Large and 1 small left, so if you want to have your official GNOME t-shirt, shipped anywhere in the UK, this is your chance! Drop me an e-mail to let me know what size you want, and I will get back to you. They are £10 each plus P&P, which is cheaper than getting them shipped from the USA!

And because blog posts with pretty pictures probably get more attention, here is what they look like:

LinuxWorld London 2005 & GNOME-Event-Box Photos

And here are some photos…

KDE and GNOME side by side – you can see which stand has the most activity! In all fairness this was taken at the end of the expo as there where too many people around to take a good photo during the day.

<b>Update:</b> We had a great time down the pub with the KDE guy (hi Ivor!), who was a great laugh, desipte being surrounded by four GNOME guys! They had an excellent expo as did we, so the above comment was just a jest 🙂

The GNOME Event box contents, now with a UK wireless keyboard and mouse, and also the LinuxFormat award for desktop of the year 2004!

The box seemed a little bashed when it arrived, but it’s contents was fine. It needs two people to lift it, and there are handles each end. (Yes, that is an OpenedHand sticker on the top – I stuck it on whilst waiting at the station!)

London LinuxWorld 2005

Many thanks to everyone who helped out this year at the GNOME stand at LinuxWorld London. It was great to see so many new people getting involved in promoting and demonstrating GNOME.

It was also great to see some of the other guys involved with GNOME come and say hello.
The OpenedHand guys were there. Matthew Allum was showing me the new Nokia 770, which looks very smart, as well as some other devices running GTK+ and other GNOME software. Ross Burton (Sound Juicer, Devil’s Pie) and Jorn Baayen (Muine, Rhythm Box) and the whole OpenedHand crew were there.

Daniel Viellard kindly donated a stack of Fedora CDs to the stand, as did the Ubuntu gang (with Ubuntu CDs), and some Novell guys even found some NLD evaluation CDs.

As for the GNOME LiveCDs we had printed, they were all gone before the end of the first day! (Many thanks to OpenAdvantage for those, plus the extra demo PC).

Alan Cox also came over to say hello, although I was chatting to a someone about GNOME at the time. I heard Michael Meeks was also there on the first day although I didn’t see him around.

This was also the first outing of the new GNOME event box, which was very successful. And to let anyone know who was standing around at the end of the expo, trying to figure out how it should get back to Reading, it was two taxis, one train journey, some general lugging about, and a couple of pints later that it was safely back home! Tomorrow it’s off to France, so I ought to say au revoir et bon voyage.

We have some GNOME t-shirts left over from the expo (unfortunately they only arrived on the second day), so if anyone in the UK wants to buy one of the official GNOME t-shirts, drop me an e-mail. They’re £10 each and I have one small left, and several medium, large and X-Large.

Also, if anyone is interested in getting involved with GNOME events in the UK, take a look at the website where there is information about the mailing, wiki and IRC channel.

2.12.1 & LinuxWorld

Just made a release of gnome-backgrounds-2.12.1, but it’s nothing exciting – just a few new and updated translations.

Calum made the release of gnome-themes-2.12.1, which includes one or two bug fixes I managed to get in, plus quite a few more translations too.

And if you’re going to be at LinuxWorld 2005 in London, be sure to come past the GNOME stand and say hello! We should have all sorts of things to show off, and we’ll have copies of the GNOME 2.12 Live CD to hand out. It’ll also be the first outing of the new GNOME Event Box!

gnome-uk mailing list is down

Just to let everyone on the gnome-uk mailing list, that the server that hosted the list died recently so the mailing list is not working at present. I have been informed that work is under way to get it going again as soon as possible.

I’ll take this opportunity to invite any other GNOME users in the UK to come and visit (and if possible, help out!) at the GNOME stand at LinuxWorld 2005 in London. If you’re going to be there, let us know on the wiki!

As for the mailing list, if you’re not already subscribed and would like to, then watch this space, as I’ll let everyone know once it is back up an running again.

Busy day

So busy yesterday, I didn’t even get time to write a blog entry as planned, so here it is, a day late.

Made a release of gtk-engines, now at version 2.6.5. There are about half a dozen or so bug fixes since the last release. On a related note, Cairo version of Clearlooks has started to emerge in CVS head (although this won’t be ready for any releases in time for GNOME 2.12).

I made the one and only development release of gnome-backgrounds before 2.12. The only major change being some SVG replacements for the translucent backgrounds. Many thanks to Andreas Nilsson for those. We’re also going to work on getting some new SVG tile backgrounds in for 2.14, hopefully integrated with the Nautilus backgrounds option too.

We also managed to make a final development release of gnome-themes before 2.12, which includes several bug fixes I managed to rush in. Well, only three, but I must have sorted out at least a dozen bugs from the gnome-themes bugzilla as well! 🙂

And to top it all off, I announced the new splash screen contest at!

gtk-engines 2.6.4

Just released gtk-engines 2.6.4 at the usual place.
The release includes quite a number of bug fixes, including several crash fixes. One important point to note with this release is that the Clearlooks engine will now be maintained within gtk-engines.

Overview of Changes in 2.6.4 (since 2.6.3)

  • Fixed bugs:
    #305374 – Smooth makes d4x crash
    #161960 – Panel on 2nd screen crashes when using crux
    #303112 – [lighthouseblue] Radio buttons appear all checked in GtkTreeView
    #308551 – uninitialized variables in the smooth engine
    #305432 – smooth theme queries GtkButton style properties for all kind of widgets
    #170824 – Industrial labels are purple
    #300530 – clearlooks engine is installed in a different directory than the other engines

  • Updated clearlooks engine

And in related news, with the inclusion of Cairo in GTK+ 2.7, we’re going to be branching gtk-engines development soon to take advantage of the new features Cairo brings. There has already been some experimental work done with the Clearlooks engine in using Cairo, and we hope to start updating other engines to use cairo soon. Watch this space for screenshots!