#13: “Pretty” is a feature

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful. I’m not talking about inner beauty, not elegance, not ideological purity… pure, unadulterated, raw, visceral, lustful, shallow, skin deep beauty.

We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend’s breath away.

That’s why I’m thrilled with the work of some of our community artists. Check out this logo from Who (ignore the scaling, view it directly):

Who's Ubuntu Logo

If you are of an artistic bent then I would urge you to get involved with the Ubuntu Art Team, and peruse or join the Ubuntu Art mailing list. There is also a new site for community-contributed artwork, being developed by Brandon Holtsclaw and I think currently available at art-staging.ubuntu.com though it will move to art.ubuntu.com and get more horsepower shortly.

Of course, “pretty but unusable” won’t work either. It needs to be both functional and attractive. Rather than bling for bling’s sake, let’s use artistic effects to make the desktop BETTER, and obviously better.

This is a challenge we (the free software community) share with scientists too.

I had a great coincidental chat with a guy from Imperial College, London, recently. He lectures in a course which teaches scientists and engineers how to communicate with the rest of humanity. This is close to my heart – I love the bleeding edge, physics, computer science etc, and I can’t stop my imagination from turning ideas into exotic works of mental art. But mental art isn’t something you can convey very easily – it’s in your head, after all. If we want people to get excited about science we have to show them what it’s makes possible. Imperial College teaches people who love science how to make it fascinating for everyone else too – something NASA could take to heart.

Similarly, I met up with Susan Greenfield from the Royal Institution – not a loony bin for inbred monarchs, but a public forum for the demonstration, discussion and discourse on science that goes back to the days of Humphrey Davy and Michael Faraday. In those days, science was hot entertainment for the gentrified classes, who would gather of an evening in formal dress to listen to scientists talk about the magical world that was opening up under their microscopes and instruments. We spoke about a number of things but I thought that their mandate was most similar to that of the Hip2BeSquare project which I fund in South Africa, which brands the idea of being “smart with your life” for students and pupils in SA (think about it – which pays off more in your life, an extra hour of math or an extra hour on the football field… it takes a lot of math before the marginal benefits line up and it’s time to hit the fields).

All of which goes to say that messaging is important – learning how to “show off your best stuff” is an essential skill, and I hope the free software community will take that to heart.

196 Responses to “#13: “Pretty” is a feature”

  1. dtamas Says:

    The logo is beautiful in deed, but i loved the theme in edgy beta (troy’s work).
    I wanted to have a default wallpaper in edgy that rocks and have own ubuntu style.
    The final wallpaper is so similar to osx… :(

  2. streamcast Says:

    Icons, logo and user experience have an major impact on people. Simple workflow & pretty icons (desktop) actually do go along. 😉

  3. Michiel Says:

    I’ve been part of the artwork team for a while now, but I have very little faith in the project, Mr. Shuttleworth. It is because our art is accepted or rejected by you, since you are the client. But, for some reason, you’ve been partaking in the rejecting of artwork for very questionable reasons. There was a lot of good art going on that did not make it to Edgy, and some of the changes in the Edgy artwork make things look worse (not just from my point of view, but from that of the established standards in design) or even break things (such as the LegacyHuman controls).

    I will continue to contribute, but please don’t scare off longtime contributors by attempting to maintain arbitrary standards. That said, I’m glad you’re rejecting things that do not _completely_ captivate you. It’s those Linux distros that _don’t_ reject such things that come off as amateuristic, which is the absolute last thing Ubuntu should come off as. Design is powerful, especially when competing in a market of which the leaders have decided that it’s absolutely impossible not to have great design.

  4. Johnny Chadda » Artwork is a feature Says:

    […] There has been a lot of talk about Compiz and Beryl in the Linux community lately and for those who not know what it is, have a look at the Wikipedia article on Compositing window managers. Mark Shuttleworth recently wrote an article about how to make the world embrace free software, and the number one reason that someone will try it it because it looks cool. […]

  5. Revolution Says:

    “We have to make it gorgeous”

    I agree. So why not hire some beautiful women to model? You could start with a hottie like Sola Aoi. :)

  6. Jim Caston Says:

    The default, out-of-the-box Ubuntu needs to function as well as OSX before it will be taken seriously but the average user. The focus needs to be on composite graphics (a la XGL, etc) and the Gnome user interface. The art is already “pretty” enough. It’s time to get competitive with the user interface.

  7. ChrisNTR Says:

    Ubuntu 2.0 Style Logos… I’m all for it!

  8. Nathaniel Says:

    So in the interest of “beautiful” art, could we PLEASE step away from the “brown, brown, some more brown with a touch of brown” color scheme, pretty please? Consistency is great, but this is borderline ridiculous.

  9. Budda Says:

    Mark, please ditch the ugly brown desktop and go with either blue or emerald green. Kubuntu desktop is already 100% ahead in the game for desktop beautification!

  10. neo Says:

    It’s been my complaint about *nix systems is that the graphical interface is not standard or flowing. It’s one thing M$ has done well to keep it’s user base. The problem with *nix systems is that there are too many desktop variations that a standard can’t be agreed upon. I think people finally need to realize that variation is not always the answer.

  11. Adriaan Says:

    Hi Mark, I think I suggested this to you on one of your blogs about 6 – 12 months ago. I stated that no average computer user would adopt linux while it looks the way it does – just take a look at vista, it looks great, and thats a big factor for most people. The average joe doesn’t really care about the intricate workings of an OS, but rather just that it works, and looks nice enough to work with all day.

  12. jaiden Says:

    Good news! My wife previously said “I hate this stupid linux” when I had it running on our PC. I finally found out that it was only because it was brown! I changed the theme, but haven’t gotten around to fixing the splash screen. Too often linux geeks forget that not everyone is as happy with a blank, iconless grey background and fluxbox as I am.

  13. dave Says:

    Linux distros need to be chasing the Mac GUI not Windows. And I don’t mean just pretty icons and backgrounds. The whole usability picture under Linux is haphazard at best. Part of this is just a natural result of x11 and the everything and the kitchen sink of most Linux apps. So it no-ones ‘fault’. But it’s going to take a serious effort by an organization to fix. RedHat made a good start on it with Blue Curve way back when. I’ve been hoping that Ubuntu might make a serious effort at it. Sure seems to be the distro that focuses on end users more than developers…

  14. Sasi Says:

    ya , the logo and the current artwork looks pretty . Talking abt functional ,recenlty whn i tried
    Ubuntu i found some pretty basic utilities were actually not thr at all , like
    a Internet connection Wizard to connect to PPPoE server etc, it’s such a basic tht
    a every newbie using the OS ‘ll certainly look for Internet connection rather than with
    the terminal .

  15. Rob Says:

    When I had XGL + Compiz running on my machine at home, it blew my housemates away. If they’d have had the disk space they would have asked me to install Ubuntu on their machine right then. Nothing else from F/OSS has had the same effect on people like my housemates (people who think the google.com search box and the address bar are the same thing). That’s why I agree with Mark on this point. Usability is king though – that’s why I use XFCE. We need bling that makes things better.

    And for the record, after using Compiz, I can say with certainty that the spinny desktop and OSX-like minimise do help usability. Not the other bits though.

  16. Andy Dolph Says:

    For the scientific visualisation side of this check out:

    the blog of Ryan Wyatt who is science visualizer for the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in NY, USA. He posts just about every day some bit of science in a visual form with some coment – sometimes because it’s great, sometimes because it’s not great – always interesting through.

  17. Redth Says:

    Thank You!

    This is something that’s bothered me for some time about the linux world. Most people dismiss it all as eye candy and completely unnecessary. Well, some people do in fact like pretty graphics, and they are important to them. It’s about time linux appealed to people in this sense. Look at OSX, it’s not primarily focused on eye candy, but the subtle graphics make it a lot nicer looking.

    First of all, XGL of course is important. It’s already fairly stable, but I do have it crash frequently enough. This will bring that hardware accelerated desktop that we should have had years ago. Who doesn’t have a graphics card capable these days (ok, except for those lingering low end systems that people set up with linux specifically because it’s trim enough to still run on. In this case, XGL should still be optional)?

    Next, the theme needs a major overhaul. The look it offers now is too similar to windows classic. It’s just not that pretty looking. While I agree it’s functional, it could stand to be a bit flashier. i’d hate to see osx or vista copied, but they are both trying (let’s say osx is way more successful at it right now) to make things look nicer. The thing is, this needs to be different from the norm and unique, but familiar enough to not confuse.

    I’m interested in seeing what comes of this all. I’m so close to switching over to Ubuntu as my primary OS, but it’s not QUITE there for me. Next I think Mark should make a call out for something better than Gimp (and gimpshop) to directly compete with photoshop. Right now, nothing replaces my photoshop on linux, not even that Pixel program that is closer than gimp.

    Keep on rocking in the free world Mark!

  18. Isand Shuttleworth ja kole Ubuntu « vahvelblog.wordpress.com Says:

    […] Lugu ise siin. […]

  19. Unavoidable Says:

    I switched to Linux in pursuit of eye candy…. so give me more! =D

  20. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    People can/should have shiny choices among the preinstalled themes. The default (brown) theme might be worthy as an option, but why not replace it with something else? it’s subjective, of course.

  21. GlennV Says:

    I think a clean wrapper for XGL and improvements in the beryl window manager go a long
    way to paving the way for a beautiful lnux desktop. Every windows user that see’s my desktop
    allways replies with a “how do you do that?”

    It never ceases to awe the vista fanboys, either.

  22. Igor Says:

    Mark, you’re absolutely right, my hat off to you. Imho, one of the great disadvantages of open source projects has been the prettiness. Being an open source believer myself, I often found it hard to convince everyday “infidels” that something that looks geeky works exceptionally well. If we pursue the pretty course the future of open source will be much prettier.

  23. Jeff Schroeder Says:

    Take a look at Murrine for the GTK theme:

    Not only is it much prettier than clearlooks-cairo AND ubuntulooks, it is much faster. A brown human colored Murrine wouldn’t be as pretty as the default blue or green (in my personal opinion), but it would still be stunning.

    Also, progress bar animation on my default is eyecandy that stunned my younger sister. Take a look. You can get Edgy debs here:

    And you can get themes that use them here:

    Note that murrine was made with the intention of being easy to configure and change the colors. Finally, good work on the Edgy artwork. It is the only Ubuntu release so far that I kept the default bootsplash, gdm theme, and login splash. Awesome job to you mark, and the ubuntu team!

  24. Ted Says:

    I love Ubuntu, and I couldn’t agree more with Mark on the above topic. However, it seems one of the easiest ways to make Ubuntu prettier is to ditch the orange/brown theme used in the main distro. Even though this theme has been gussied up in recent versions, the base colors are just awful. I find myself wanting to use Kubuntu instead just for it’s soothing/smooth blue theme. If the orange and brown can’t be removed from the base distro for branding reasons, at least give users of the base distro an easy way (meaning, all theme files/boot screens/login screens/etc) to change it with a entirely different color scheme out of the box.
    I’m liking what I’m seeing with 6.10, so I believe your team has the potential to address this concern (and the others). Good hunting!

  25. Hercules Says:

    In addition to being ‘beautiful’… you have to make it easy. I’m a Windows and Mac user, and quite frankly while Linux may possess some of the best technology or speed, it leaves far too much to do as far as small things.

    Things like, installing software. On my PC, I double click, hit next next next, and boom! — the software is installed. The Mac makes it even easier — I drag software into my my Applications folder, and it’s installed.

    Linux.. no, it’s not easy. I download let’s say, Firefox off the web. “Missing this library”. Then you have to go find out which one it is — and myself, being unfamiliar with Linux, it takes some time. Then you have yet another missing library. After you finally get it installed, you find that the OLD version still resides and is the main shortcut. You have to call firefox from the command line in order to get it to run the NEW version.

    And in all that effort, I simply delete my computer of Linux, throw up my hands and go back to using my Mac for a “linux like” experience.

    Beauty is in simplicity too. Not just art.

  26. Nancy Says:

    I think the experience of Myspace shows that beauty and a nice GUI isn’t always everything. But mostly, yes, I agree. Prettier software can’t hurt.

  27. Prashant Says:

    Does this mean we’re doing away with the Africa-safari theme? Yay!

  28. clifford Says:

    Well, I love Ubuntu, and you are 200% right, it needs to be prettier.

    First step (about 1 hour of work) – GET RID OF THAT BROWN THEME, which I affectionately refer to as “Diarrhea”. Change it to something blue and/or silver. I’m not saying clone Aqua or Vista, but create something better using a similar color scheme.

    After that, I really don’t care what’s done. But that brown theme has to go. It turns so many people off so quickly that the never bother trying the rest of the system.

    Also, you might want to get rid of that picture of people holding hands on the web site, it is unmanly and, frankly, just a bit wierd, and definitely turns off many would-be adopters.

  29. wwt Says:

    Follow Apple’s lead and provide capability for high resolution icons, anti-aliasing, decent fonts, and a smattering of shadows and other eye candy. Make all easy to modify. Make it easy to deploy suites of high resolution icons (compared to hit or miss app by app icon changes).

    Switch focus from earth tones to more lively tones (greens, blues, etc.)

    Leave the themes and wallpapers up to the user.

  30. roberto Says:

    i find that the “blubuntu” package is a step in the right direction. i guess most people don’t find brown appealing, and most find orange a bit “too strong” on the eyes.

    but, enabling by default xgl+beryl+emerald is maybe a step too far…

  31. Ian Monroe Says:

    We at Amarok always put a premium on making sure things look nice. We also always have trouble keeping artists for longer then a few months, haven’t figured out the magic in keeping the mythical open source artist around.

  32. 今日链接 at 爱晚尚明 Says:

    […] October 25th, 2006 by J Google, IT八卦, Kubuntu, opera, ubuntu, 推荐阅读“Pretty” is a feature-Mark Shuttleworth […]

  33. Jeff Silverman Says:

    I completely agree, Mark. You are my hero, BTW. If I was independently wealthy…. well, that’s neither here nor there, now, is it?

    In addition to being beautiful, Linux needs to be ADVERTISED. Actually, it needs to be several things that are somewhat outside the scope of typical F/OSS development:

    * Needs to be well advertised and promoted.
    * Beautiful to look at.
    * Needs to work, work well, work smoothly, and all that. (This part is coming along very nicely, BTW. Kudos to Ubuntu on that one!)
    * Needs to come preinstalled on mass-market available PCs. Dell shipping Ubuntu? BestBuy PC with Ubuntu? HP, Compaq, IBM, CompUSA, with Ubuntu, anyone?

    I think the first one, marketing, and the last one, preinstallation, are the two most important. And I think preinstallation trumps them all by a long shot. People will use whatever is there, now, on their PC, and inertia will keep them there.

  34. immrlizard Says:

    I am part of a large group of people that believe that it is most important for the os to be easy to use (including update and install programs) then worry about pretty. Ubuntu has brought linux up to speed with other os types. Don’t give up on ease of use for fluff. Remember, for someone to switch from windows to any form of linux it is important for the user to be able to use it nearly as well as windows. Right now, although it is getting easier to do most things in linux then it was 3 years ago, it is still not easy. It is much too easy to kill things and not as easy to fix them. I think that ubuntu is a big step on the evolutionary chain of linux. They need to keep it up and get more and more hardware supported. The more hardware that is fully supported the more likely it is that people will switch. I am a new user to linux and currently have 4 machines running some form of linux and love it, but I have one machine that is giving me fits and haven’t been able to get it going. I admit that I am a long time windows user and have to “unlearn” some habits. One example is sun java. Installing it can be problematic and there is no documentation out there saying not to install it through adept because you cannot agree to the license so it cannot install. Those are the typs of things that need to be addressed for any version of linux to become really main stream and replace windows. I am willing to do rsearch to make sure that things will work if I am going to install them. Most users aren’t willing to do that. Keep up the good work though.

  35. Rupy Says:

    Yup – couldn’t agree more.

    Everytime I boot into os X on my macbook it simply it seduces me and each time I have to resist with every fibre of my being to continue using (k)ubuntu – if it could reach the same level of polish as os X I can guarantee the subscriber base will very rapidly grow.

  36. Kevin Cannon Says:

    Well, making ubuntu look good is definately important. A lot of Open Source software lacks good design leadership.

    The above logo however is just a glossy version of the main logo. That ‘gloss’ effect was start by Apple a few years ago and has been copied many times over. Apple are now moving away from that now because it’s becoming a little clichéd. Just be careful not to copy what’s out there or else it’ll look dated.

    Design doesn’t lend itself to collaboration as much as development does so It would make more sense to hire/sponsor a talented designer to act as a leader and guide for the ubuntu brand.

  37. PieterIserbyt Says:

    I think the Beryl project also plays a huge role in creating a wow effect. It actually convinced my brother to try Ubuntu ;-). The sooner this becomes a standard part of a stable release, the better for Ubuntu imho. Thanks to QuinnStorm and her team for making this happen. It’s great.

  38. Mirjan Says:

    who is this guy you’re talking about –> I had a great coincidental chat with a guy from Imperial College, London, recently. He lectures in a course which teaches scientists and engineers how to communicate with the rest of humanity.

    How can we adopt this?

    btw, the logo is really nice.

    greets, mirjan

  39. doctor Says:

    I’ve been saying for years that the average user won’t accept Linux because it’s not pretty.
    Just please don’t make it an OSX clone.

    Also you have to hide feature that are confusing to average users.
    Someone’s mother is not going to know what virtual desktops are and will be completely lost if they accidentally click on one and everything vanishes.

    What’s always been missing from every OS is two GUI modes: Average User / Power User. And I’m not talking about permissions.
    I’m talking about GUI layout (Power user likes tons of tools at their disposal at all times / Average user like the minimalist look), helpful messages (Power users shouldn’t get any repetitive messages, once is fine. / Average user needs short simple messages that are different enough that they realize the serious ones from the informative ones.), finally choice (Let them pick the color of everything, give them themes, give them icon sets to pick, cursors).

    Also power users are the ones helping out the average user. They’ve probably installed Ubuntu for them. Give them two things: one end user clicks on a support icon and can connect to the power user for help (EX: I talk to my mother, she’s done something and needs help. I tell her click on the support icon and pick the “connect to your son” icon (which I setup in the setup of the average user account, aka a default help client) I see a request for help on mine, I control her desktop. No firewall setup on her end, I can do the same thing on my sister’s laptop while she’s at Starbucks.). The second is allow me to switch to average user mode so if the average user can’t connect to me I can at least be following the same screens as them.

    Auto-update everything.

    Finally, which Ubuntu is doing right, the average user doesn’t need 8 different web browsers (a web developer might), 4 email clients and 80 admin tool. Make the menus only have the useful stuff for the end user and keep the complex administrative junk in a settings and administration area. One area that houses all settings for everything in the OS and all the tools to maintain the OS. (Windows control panel should be shot.)

    Also.. everyone likes nice animations.. unless they are slow and choppy.

    I could go on.. but that’s enough of a rant for today.

    Keep up the good work.

    (PS pay Adobe to make Photoshop, Premiere and Dreamweaver for Linux.. that will help a lot too.)

  40. Håkon Wium Lie Says:

    I share your passion for beauty. Logos are nice, but we spend much more time looking at text. The fonts that are used on our screens are not bad-looking, but web’re been looking at them for too long. Webfonts is a way to increase the visual richness of our environment — browsers should download and use fonts similar to how they use images.



  41. ttrygve Says:

    I agree, it’s largely responsible for OS X’s widespread appeal in recent years. I love using Ubuntu, but I have to ask why in the hell it’s still brown?? At best it looks like dirt, at worst it looks like something needing flushed. I’m glad you feel “pretty” is important, but I think it would be worthwhile to talk to some marketing/psych experts on people’s response to different color schemes. I know you obviously love your “earth tones,” but I think you should reconsider that in larger scope.

    I know of a Fed-Ex employee who’s office door had a piece of toilet paper on it with “What has brown done for you” written on it in brown. That’s the kind of thing many people associate with the color brown.

  42. Ben Marklein Says:

    I’m about to switch away from Ubuntu after a 4-month experiment using it as my primary OS.
    Pretty is great, but I need solid power management and wifi support, period, and the lack of these means I spend way too much time hassling with my system. I’d also like major software releases to be available immediately – i.e., I don’t want to have to go outside the normal package management system to get Firefox 2. I realize there are reasons why things are the way they are, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I switch to a Mac, I’ll get new releases immediately.

  43. UbuntuOS Says:

    […] (more…) […]

  44. v1ncent Says:

    I think this: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Artwork/Incoming/EdgyProposals/GlossProposal?action=AttachFile&do=get&target=contact_gloss.jpg (first logo image) line of work is perfect… Its like a tango-gloss artwork.

  45. cliff Says:

    I’m an open source advocate, but I refuse to use Songbird because of the idiotic farting logo. Artwork in programs is a lot more important that a lot of people realize.

  46. Jeff Hobbs Says:

    Absolutely right on! And great work so far; I look forward to watching Ubuntu become more and more beautiful with each version. One thing that would go a long way towards this goal is a greater focus on fonts. Fonts in Ubuntu need some serious help; there’s too many fonts that look almost identical and are kerned poorly. Paring the list down and adding some more interesting looking fonts would go a long way to beautifying Ubuntu.

  47. Ryan(G0Ducks) Says:

    Ubuntu would do a lot in the beauty department if it supported anti-aliased windows.
    This is something I can’t stand about windows… Seeing jaggies in Ubuntu actually turned me off.

    There are a lot of under-utilized theme artists at http://www.macthemes.net. I’d bet that a good many of them would be willing to donate their themes for a little recognition.


  48. Tom Says:

    create a better experience not better artwork

  49. The FriedGeek Says:

    I agree and that’s one of the things that pulled me to Ubuntu, the beauty of it. It can be made more beautiful. Pulling in some great visual minds to work with the great coding minds all with an agreed upon goal will do wonders.

  50. Diego Says:

    I agree….many people seem to think that “being pretty” is useless

    But then, one of the reasons why Mac OS X is the desktop OS reference, is because it’s _pretty_ (and useful). Mac OS X has been “pretty” (transparence, drop shadows) from 2001 or so, and every other OS in the world has only tried to catchup with them. I can’t imagine how following the Mac OS X example and putting a lot of efforts into being pretty and useful can be bad.

  51. Rgb Says:

    I use KUbuntu. And I think it’s quite beautiful.

  52. Brian Says:

    One idea might be to stop copying the played-the-hell-out glossy look and come up with something original.

  53. Jason Spencer Says:

    I say this is a great idea. Too many linux apps look rough. I would also suggest getting a better name. I don’t even know how to say it.

  54. Randall Says:

    Ucraptnu as I would like to call it. Is a linux distro for sheep. Now I really don’t have an issue with the os as much as I do with the users. The users for this linux distro have no repect for other linux users. Yes its a linux distro not a new os. A word to ucraptnu users respect others and stop the bashing. I can’t help if you can’t understand how to treat other people. Ucraptnu users are the rudest linux users yet.

  55. chris ferro Says:

    I will agree, your distro could use a few pretty-ups, but it’s rather pretty as a linux distro goes.
    But the problem is, the criteria for us to create more striking visuals is far too strict, we have to take over more than people are comfortable with to get better results.
    Not many people are fond of the Human theme, myself included.
    Frankly it just looks bazaar, when people look for themes they look at calming color schemes, like blues and greens, Or futuristic kubrick-esqe stark white and black.
    But these styles always get shoved aside and a modified human theme gets shipped.
    Also, the software used seems to be a huge issue with most ubuntu die-hards.
    Better results can only be obtained with better software, and gimp/inscape are just not there yet, if people were to focus on the content of the material, and less on what software was used, you will attract higher classed artisans.
    Thanks for allowing me to post,
    Have a fine day.

  56. n/a Says:

    Where is the logo? There is no link to click. Copyright problems?

  57. Walt Stoneburner Says:

    I remember the good old days when one would go over to the Enlightenment team’s webpage and gawk at the screen captures. Sleek and sexy (if not racy) backgrounds, window decorations, illuminated pop-ups, glistening wet buttons, transparent canvases, and blazing speed. It was the sense of wonder and amazement that _your_ computer could be just as beautiful and just as functional.

    Logos are nice, but there needs to be a large collection of some down right jaw-dropping awesome icons, themes, backgrounds, and screen savers that the end user can twiddle and change to give a sense of customization, ownership, and personalization.

    As developers, we recognize that this is superficial and don’t spend much time on it. However, the non-development world cares about form almost as much as function. Beauty has value, more than one might think. Compare the prices on two cars where the only thing that differs is the paint job. Bright red and emerald sparking green often can go for thousands more. So, artists, make something that someone watching over our shoulders will ask what we’re running so we can hand them a free CD and they’ll want to try it. Make themes that can be mixed and matched.

  58. Popeonabomb Says:

    I have to disagree with the logo. I find the logo bland and unattractive, and I’m sure others out there agree.

  59. Jochem Kossen Says:

    While looks are important, I think it’s at least evenly (probably even more) important to make sure Ubuntu does what users expect. The age old argument of media comes to mind again. If a user clicks on a MP3 file, and gets a message saying ‘This format is not supported’, the user only thinks playing the media file on Ubuntu is impossible. He doesn’t get to know that there ARE solutions to this problem. Tthe system IMHO should note the format is proprietary, not supported by default, but offer an easy solution to add support for it, of course all with a big fat ‘we don’t like proprietary software’ warning, so the user can decide if he wants it or not.

    There are a gazilion of these usability weaknesses in linux distributions which make users not want, or able, to switch to Ubuntu from for example Windows.

    My point (among others) is also described at http://www.osnews.com/story.php/16284/A-Call-to-Distros-Give-Users-What-They-Want

  60. stephen o'grady Says:

    couldn’t agree more, which is why Compiz and so on are so important from a desktop perspective.

  61. Pranav Shah Says:

    Please convince Adobe to collaborate with FSF and Ubuntu to release a GNU-Linux version of Photoshop.

  62. james Hooker Says:

    I very much agree.

    With the likes of Microsoft’s Aero interface engine, and more fine tuning to the Apple OS X interface with core animation and such, standard users like this sort of polish on their computers.

    Some really cool things are emerging within the free software community in regards to this with Lowfat, Compiz, Beryl and Elisa etc… but a super shiny interface would be fantastic for ubuntu.

  63. soop Says:

    Get these guys to port the eyecandy to amarok/xmms etc.



    I spoke to the fellow that runs http://www.soundspectrum.com/ and he says there is no interest in him porting it to linux as there just isn’t enough users

    If you’re looking for open source solution to it check out Cthugha … its ancient but it did the trick back in and around ’97


  64. Sean Says:

    Would be nice if it were easier to coordinate the colors of various things with our own wallpaper. Not everyone’s definition of ‘pretty’ includes brown and orange.

  65. Darryl Says:

    For the goal of a pretty desktop, I believe features like Beryl/Compiz should be fully integrated into the new releases, as they add a great deal to the Linux desktop.

  66. Jason Says:

    Perhaps, but ease of use should come first over ease on the eyes. Installing applications can still be a hassle. You can’t just download an executable and install. Sometimes you need to gather 10 different packages before it will work. Only when this hurdle is overcome will Mom and Pop use Ubuntu or any linux distro on a regular basis no matter how pretty it is. I am an Ubuntu user.

  67. zt Says:

    “We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend’s breath away.”

    You mean you have to make it not brown? ;-D

  68. banquo Says:

    I certainly agree, but if we want open source software to be embraced and loved, it needs to ‘Just Work’. That’s beautiful in my eyes.

    I recently purchased a brand spankin’ new Dell Latitude, and I spent about 12 hours trying to get the wireless networking to work, and about 5 hours trying to get my display to use something other than the default resolution/color depth. I still haven’t been able to get it to use the same resolution/color depth that Windows automatically uses.

    This is probably the wrong place to whine about technical issues, but I really believe that until open source software can pass the ‘so easy my mom can use it’ test, it’s all so much unrealized potential. No matter how pretty it is, it’s got to work, or it won’t be widely accepted.

    Ubuntu seems to be more receptive to this than other linux communities, but there’s still a ways to go before it’s there. Keep up the good work though…

  69. nonnano Says:

    Sir, you hit the nail again. Thank you for listening the many comments you have heard from ordinary users (developers alone tend to view world their weird ways). Keep up the good work! I’m REALLY looking forward getting some Ubuntu cds mailed to me, I will distribute one to each person at work and brainwash completely at least ten. (That’s my personal goal.) Now it is far more easy than with the previous version. The only gripe for single ordinary users there is now is the lack of network manager.

  70. nonnano Says:

    I am forced to comment on the color debate. What certain shades of colors mean to people is about culture. Different colors mean different people to Americans, Russians, people from the African nations and so on. Brown is, I have understood, clean and beautiful color for many.

    The Hoary brown shade has only ONE meaning in where I am from. Shit. Sorry, but that is it. The later warmer shades do not have that problem. If I was in Ubuntu art team, I’d conduct a small research of the major cultural differences in colors and shapes and pick some 3 different target groups that would be pleased via small modifications to themes. (Like, brown blue and green versions)

  71. Dgingeri Says:

    Actually, I believe that it should be functional first, then pretty. If pretty interferes with the function of the product, like Creative’s windows drivers for their sound card, then it should be left out.

    On top of that, get everything functional first, then you’ll be able to concentrate on getting things pretty. For instance, no version of Linux has a decent installer. installing programs is many times an operation in complexity and futility. Average users certainly can’t install programs if a computer tech weaned on DOS 3.0 and in the business for 12 years can’t install it. I refer, of course, to myself. I am well versed in Windows, and can run the registry with the best of them. I can manually uninstall Office 97 in under 30 minutes. I have manually written Win.ini and system.ini files in the old Win 3.1. I certainly can handle complex projects, but I still can’t figure out how to install Linux programs on any of the current distributions. This is a significant problem with Linux. As long as this problem still exists, Linux can never be adopted as a mainstream OS.

  72. Peter Mann Says:

    “Pretty” is sign of design sophistication, and a very important element to the overall reaction an individual will have, whether it is in response to a car, a pen , or an operating system. Clearly the engineering behind the object will have to be good, but if it is “ugly”, or without a coherent and balanced look, well, who will want it?

    Good Luck !!!!

  73. rdeckard Says:

    I can understand that with the kind of money you’ve invested in the Ubuntu project, that you have undoubtedly have a right to put your foot down on occasion and say ‘The buck stops here”. But your choice of using this ugly brown ‘Human’ color scheme is as self-defeating as it gets. I have alot of contact with potentially new users every day and I can’t get past the topic of the brown screens. I tell people “but you can change that to whatever you want.” Reply: “No thanks, it’s ugly as homemade sin and why do I want to go to using that thing when Windows already looks the way I want it to out of the box.”

    Do you think Microsoft just arbitrarily decided on blue/green for XP because of any particular reason? How about almost every other Linux Distro out there? Until something is done about the ugly brown theme, I’m not wasting my time trying to turn people onto Ubuntu anymore. That way I don’t have to try to defend the choices of someone who obviously has no sense of what attractiveness is. Either accept that people hate the brown desktop, or continue wasting your capital on this ugly distro.

  74. factotum218 Says:

    Besides colors and icons, are we expecting to see some wierd mod of Gnome KDE and XFCE sometime soon? I mean really, you can only go as far as what the Gnome, KDE, and XFCE developers give you, right?
    Or are we going to see “Ubuntu’s very own super ultra special DE” sometime soon?
    Change the icons, make the windows fade/shadow/whistle/whatever but it doesnt really matter. Your still clicking the same buttons to do the same things.

  75. fayez Says:

    This guy have done very good job by modifying some aspect of Ubuntu look:

    it is nice to see something similar in Ubuntu. the orange looks pretty good.

  76. Murray Cumming Says:

    The bikeshed is brown.

  77. Lesley Clayton Says:

    I would not change the DNA of the IMAGE of UBUNTU – its PERFECT and BEAUTIFUL!! (Red, orange, yellow, white, black text) People associate colours and images differently depending on experiences, seasons of life, culture etc. So let me give some other associations of the Ubuntu colours besides brown for POOH! – (support, foundation, home, root, source, secure, self, identity, belonging, relationship, basic needs, survival, instinct, desert, simple, bushmen, tracking, logic, intuition, nuturing, primal, passionate, energy, power, visceral, raw, fire, bond, connection, earth, physical, emotional, reproduction, create, unleashed, freedom, wild, soul,…..) It all ties together into the BIG PICTURE! I think the Ubuntu teams are producing well! I would cool the heat down with a nice cool, sky blue background to balance it out! The above logo is getting there – the tone needs to be slighty brighter!!

  78. Fut21 Says:

    Leave the brown theme, i want “happy” colors like green, orange, blue, but not brown. A lot of newbee, i have met, coming from windows dont want to use ubuntu because of the brown colors, they are not aware that you can switch between themes. (take a look ar fedora core 6`s wallpaper as an exampel, it`s beautiful). 95% of those i talk to about ubuntu talks about the color and NOT in a positive way, they often prefere suse or the new mandriva 2007.
    It could also be interesting with new desktops features like Widgets, here we can use gdesklets, it`s beautiful and you can use them for something.

  79. Derek Says:

    I dont understand why no one mentioned Kbuntu… Its On the same darn webpage. It uses KDE instead of Gnome and looks a whole hell of a lot prettier…

  80. Kevin Wright Says:

    Please, no more glossy logos, buttons, text or other artwork. It’s just distracting. Enough already.

  81. Rich Says:

    I think the interface such as the windows and stuff can be improved alot. KDE and Gnome look very Windows 2000 like. I think if the interface can improve such as on Mac OS X, Vista Aero then it can give a lot of eye candy. It needs to be changed. People argue about the XGL and stuff being better than OS X and Vista but the windows that can be moved and transparent are still the same windows. The lines, icons, fonts needs major work. Also, I guess for installing apps there should be an installer that will detect if their is a package missing and it will take care of installing the needed updates via the apt thingy.

  82. R.Entwisle Says:

    As an Artistic Director, I would love to be able to help, but I would refuse to. I have a great history of identifying a market and creating products aimed at that market. What I will not tolerate is someone who asks for my skill and experience vetoing and micro managing my work. Would any programmer accept an artist having creative control of their coding? Why do programmers believe they are experts in all fields? Why do some programmers also like to treat artists as chaff by effectively running art competitions?

    The conditions I would need to work on a project like this would be as follows. Complete artistic control and freedom. A UI programmer with the skill and time to work on graphical features. A complete set of lessons from an expert in the current UI/screen rendering system so I can get up to speed and work within these confines as much as possible to avoid complete rewrites.

    The result would be a completely new look, putting natural calming graphical features into a User Interface that reduces OS clutter for ease of use for the end user.

    Unfortunately you will have art students and low level artists fighting over the scraps you throw them. A top level artist doesn’t suffer the meddling of others. As an Artistic Director it is actually my job to stand my ground for the sake of the project. To concentrate on targeting the client while retaining any core branding. Ask yourself what you would prefer. The best, and in many ways most original User Interface, or to micro manage the artists because you, with no artistic training or expertise wants creative control. I will get back to my work now. Where I am adapting my companies look to a new target audience. Contact me if you need more detail on anything I have said.

  83. aim Says:

    ubuntu artwork is much-much better than other *buntu distributions. that’s a mess…

    p.s. hello from saint-petersburg, we got a 10th birthday of our LUG here… :)

  84. Paul Says:

    I agree with some other posters who say ditch the brown….I’d go for blue

  85. mihael robost Says:

    i agree, edgy splash artwork sucks!

  86. ShadowVlican Says:

    while pretty certainly is an attractor to ubuntu, i believe there’s more to that to get people to switch to linux-based OS

    simply put, ubuntu needs to be like windows without the security problems 😉 (that includes, ease of use, COMPATIBILITY, visual quality, did i mention ease of use?, etc……)

  87. macewan Says:

    Beryl & Kiba-dock

    Kiba-dock needs to be brain dead easy to customize.

    Desktop widgets of some sort – like gdesklets without being such a resource hog.

  88. Caroline Ford Says:

    I disagree with those who say ditch the brown. I like the brown – it is warm and calming. I find the blue of Xubuntu really boring and I’m trying to work out how to kill the blue of my Kubuntu install. Blue is conservative and masculine. KDE feels more masculine than GNOME anyway – it’s just a shame that KDE seems to have better applications…

  89. DeadMeat Says:

    Stop wasting your time. Pretty is the last thing any Linux distro needs to worry about. Until Linux becomes easy enough that the average user can install (with minimal fuss) and start using popular applications (web browsing, mulitmedia applications, etc) in a reasonable amount of time, it will NEVER become a mainstream alternative. An OS should be transparent to a user. It should not get in the way of the task the user is trying to accomplish. The OS is not the experience a user wants, pretty or not. The APPLICATIONS available and COMPATABILITY with the users hardware that lets the user accomplish their computing goal should be the priority, not fluffy graphics. The Mac OS and Windows OS can now concentrate on pretty graphics because they both mastered useability and compatability a long time ago. Until Linux gets to that point, forget about pretty graphics.

  90. Jason Quintana Says:

    Good stuff. I am not a fan of the brown color either, and it would probably be good to allow users to select between a couple of default looks. There are a bunch of metacity themes at gnome look.org that are far better then the default Gnome options. For example “Human Azul” icons and “Blended” window borders along with a blue desktop background make a very nice (non brown) default look and still maintains an Ubuntu look. I’m sure your artists could come up with something even better. Having a couple of options during the install phase would be a great addition.

    – Jason

  91. Cam Cope Says:

    Here’s what would put Ubuntu into mainstream use:
    –An installer that
    prompts users about proprietary vs. open source drivers and lets users choose between performance and free
    autodetects performance level of system to determine whether or not to install beryl/compiz
    prompts the user about non-free and copyrighted components and allows them to choose to install them
    –A desktop that
    easily handles hardware changes such as new input/output devices
    has a better integrated connection manager for wifi, pppoe
    attempting to connect to wifi networks in areas of poor reception is an exceptionally lengthy repetitious process
    when switching a computer from being connected to a router directly to a cable modem, network settings do not adapt
    –A network control system that
    allows admins to easily add/modify/remove users
    allows users to perform collaborative tasks such as sharing and messaging
    allows users to log in to different computers while retaining their files and settings

    These are the things I wish Ubuntu did better, sorry if anything I listed can already be done (I’m not all-knowing)

  92. Savadeep Speaks! » Just be a switcher to KDE! Says:

    […] Myself, I have but the utmost level of respect for Mark Shuttleworth. And so it was today that I was of a feeling uncertain when I was a reader of this most interesting article by him. It is a talker of the Ubuntu Art Team. But it was at the most very end that I was a reader of this quoting: “All of which goes to say that messaging is important – learning how to “show off your best stuff” is an essential skill, and I hope the free software community will take that to heart.” […]

  93. What Shadows We Are Says:

    Mark Shuttleworth for President of the U.S. in 2012!

  94. The Grave of Love The Yesterday Says:

    “Also, you might want to get rid of that picture of people holding hands on the web site, it is unmanly and, frankly, just a bit wierd, and definitely turns off many would-be adopters.”

    What planet are you from, seriously?

    The whole “men don’t cry, hug, or hold hands for any reason unless they’re feminine” thing is getting really, really old. Not only is it unhealthy to suppress emotions but it takes the humanity out of the man.

    Real men reveal their true emotions and show their caring spirit towards others.

  95. Isolationism » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth on Ubuntu’s User Interface Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical Ltd. (the creators of the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution) posted on his blog today that he feels that skin-deep beauty is what Ubuntu desperately needs right now (before rambling on about something a little less to-the-point—maybe it sounds better when you hear it in from him in person). […]

  96. MyDreamToy at Caveat Emptor Says:

    […] UPDATE: um uma galáxia não muito distante, Mark Shuttleworth diz que é preciso deixar o Ubuntu mais bonito, para atrair mais usuários. Verdade que é preciso melhorar o suporte a fontes, mas me parece óbvio que o grande problema do Linux continua sendo a falta de aplicativos decentes – a comparação Gimp x Photoshop é só a mais óbvia, mas existem outras. […]

  97. Dave Robinson Says:

    Beautiful isn’t the issue. Making it work is. I have two computers, one a laptop with the 915 chipset that I can’t get to run on the 1280 by 800 resolution, the other an Athlon64x2 dual monitor system that it can’t see the second monitor on. If you can get it to work with my displays I’d love it. Otherwise, no thanks, not ready for prime time.

    It NEEDs to support common graphics options out of the box or it’s worthless.

  98. Drew Whitehouse Says:

    Fonts, fonts, fonts, fonts, fonts, fonts …….. ! The look starts with the words on a screen, after that worry about color and decoration, clean lines, understated. Now if someone could just hire Ross Lovegrove and company …


  99. Rudd-O Says:

    Hey, you’re right about this. But I’m sorry to hijack your post:

    Mark, I just finished my thesis (you’ll have to excuse the Spanish there, I haven’t translated it yet). I ended up choosing Ubuntu, your contribution, to create a free software solution for the Third World. Now, here’s what I’m asking:

    I have vast experience in free software. What are the chances that I could work for Canonical? What are the right avenues to ask? I honestly have no idea, but I’m willing to move and do the work, especially in areas that can lead to wide adoptions of free software.

    OK, that’s it. Hope everything’s well. Good luck, and thanks for your contribution!

  100. Zoltan Says:

    Cam Cope: Agree with all this.

    Else Ubuntu must have things, good ideas – wich makes it different from other distros. OSX is successful because:
    a – It has an stable and good hardware. (On PC not really reachable this)
    b – The OS keeps together everything, and so easy as possible – so holds functionality
    c – Makes it similar to the real life, leaves choices to reach things in same way

    Therefore what we need is for Ubuntu I think:
    – Hide terminal as possible, keep everything on one common desktop (dont separete people into gnome-kde-x.)
    – Keep way to make it real the scalable 3D desktop. Everybody speaks of it but must thinking in 2D desktop, wich is more then 20 years old, and all hardware usage ’til today is NOT fully used out.
    – If linux/Ubuntu want a part of the war for living room – keep it everything simpliest as possible. If an user looks on the desktop first time must say wich thing is what is, and why is looks so.
    – You must integrate the 3 different distros and GUI (Kubuntu-Ubuntu-Xubuntu) into one to have more power
    – Choosing packages, part are good, but it can better – must cumulate parts under one name. Install-uninstall will be no more horror.
    – Desktop beutification: Must have an tool to conf all parts of the desktop.

  101. Madrefocaine! Says:

    Ci siamo! Edgy Eft!…

    Ci siamo! E’ uscita l’ultima relase di Ubuntu 6.10 (Edgy Eft).
    Fra i software aggiornati, The Fridge, proclama Gnome 2.16 ed Evolution 2.8.0 e Firefox 2.0, ma ci sono da segnalare due new entries fra le applicazioni native: Tomboy e F-spot …

  102. diego Says:

    Why not change the default color to blue? Orange is too ugly…

  103. Mexico501 » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth: We need to make Ubuntu prettier Says:

    […] Page Summary: Mark Shuttleworth recently wrote an article about how to make the world embrace free software, and the number one reason that someone will try it it because it looks cool. I think people finally need to realize that variation is not always the answer. I stated that no average computer user would adopt linux while it looks the way it does – just take a look at vista, it looks great, and thats a big factor for most people. They need to keep it up and get more and more hardware supported.read more | digg story […]

  104. cantormath Says:

    Please leave it all alone. If you want ubuntu to be prettier, you can do that your self with kde-look.org, gnome.look.org or XGL with compriz.
    I like my system simple and I dont need pretty.

    thank you

  105. ScreaminIke Says:

    About the brown,
    I know that a lot of people feel that it’s ugly, and has bad connotations, but I love it. At first I didn’t, and i messed around with customizing away from human to other fun eye candy, eventually settling on an obnoxious orange/purple theme that lasted until I made some REALLY BIG admin mistakes. Be that as it may, when i reinstalled dapper (with default theming), I was blown away. I haven’t even considered switching away from the human theme, in icons or window preferences. and while I don’t use the default brown wallpaper, I do love Dawn of Ubuntu and a pretty little (brown) png of a gnu playing the flute next to a floating Ubuntu logo.
    All in all, just as I once converted from Windows to Ubuntu, I have also converted from the oh-so-2000 bright and shiny os, to the tame, mature brown gloss of Ubuntu.
    Keep up the good work, we all love ya for it.

  106. Leo Says:

    Waaaaaaaaay to go!

    I agree with all that have been said. Eye-candy isn’t useless and if linux is to take “normal-people”‘s desktops it has to be pretty and easy.
    Just reading the splash-screen messages is frightening to most of people. Now things are getting prettier and a beautifully shining free open world is coming.

    And yes! We need also a decent graphics editor. It’s odd to make beautiful graphics for use in a open environment using commercial tools because we don’t have a good one wich is open source.

  107. Dinda Says:

    Okay, so how many artists were among the original developers(coders) you gathered at your home for the first Ubuntu brainstorming session? When did you discover that art is essential and not an afterthought? Sorry, had to ask, b/c it goes back to the basic puzzle of form vs. function. First make it work, then make it look good, and then somewhere in the middle is the balance between design and good code. . . but what if you turned it all around and made it beautiful and then coded to support that. . .

    oh about that NASA dig, they do “know” what needs to be done, they just choose not to do it. . . sigh. . .

  108. oldestgeek Says:

    Raymond Lowey designed beautiful and useful things. His motto was “Never Leave Well-Enough Alone”. He would agree that the aesthetic and the pragmatic go hand in hand. He designed or redesiigned:
    – Sudebaker Commander
    – Avanti
    – Gestetner Copier
    – Skylab
    – Streamliner trains
    – T9 Toaster (Sunbeam collectible)
    – US Mail logo
    etc, etc

  109. Suzan Says:

    I hope Ubuntu stays with the “brown” desktop. It’s so good to se not “another blue desktop”… 😉

    And – I know it’s hard to work with creative people. Everyone of these take theire work as theire “babies”. And if YOU say, that work is bad (or not good enough) it’s shocking for that kind of people. It’s very hard to work with them, believe me…

    … I know that, because I am one of them.

  110. Gord Allott Says:

    brown/orange forever, blue never! anyone thats been using computers for more than 5 years must be as bored of blue/black desktops as i am 😉

  111. Lesley Clayton Says:

    Dinda I agree with your comment girl! I have always promoted science, technology, entrepreneurship, ART and maths – “STEAM” as I call it! Life is definitely more exciting when you have all those headspaces operating!! The thrill is trying to find the BALANCE POINT – it can be big shifts or even fractions each way to finely tune something – It is a ART and SCIENCE but when you hit that SWEET SPOT – it is soooo sweeeeeeet!!!!!

  112. Patrick Conlon Says:

    What I don’t get about the color scheme which Ubuntu uses by default is why the logo’s colors are not all used. Yellow, red and orange have great potential for a desktop scheme. I know that Mr. Shuttleworth has been advocating the inclusion of brown, but very few people like it. The logo’s colors, though, have the potential to make something very sporty.

  113. Mo Says:

    I’d also like to add that font rendering (note I haven’t looked at Edgy) needs serious looking at. Though I’ve applied a fix from ubuntuforums.org that is decent, it’s unacceptable that Ubuntu out of the box makes you feel sleepy eyed. Crystal clear rendering is one must if you want Ubuntu to really complete against Mac/Win.

  114. mrAshley Says:

    There’s nothing wrong with brown; It’s soothing and pleasant. Feel free to ignore the sci-fi geeks that want everything “Star Trek LCARS interface” coloured. How cliche and boring.

  115. stelt Says:

    beauty… nice
    Hopefully mostly scalable… SVG

  116. Meriblog: Meri Williams’ Weblog » links for 2006-10-29 Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » #13: “Pretty” is a feature “If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful […] We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend’s breath away.” (tags: usability opensource opensourcesoftware development pretty design beautiful ubuntu) […]

  117. EveryDigg » Blog Archive » Mark Shuttleworth: We need to make Ubuntu prettier Says:

    […] If we want the world to embrace free software, we have to make it beautiful. I ’m not talking about inner beauty, not elegance, not ideological purity… pure, unadulterated, raw, visceral, lustful, shallow, skin deep beauty.read more | digg story Links […]

  118. 本日書籤 « penk - Keep on rockin’ in the free world Says:

    […] http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/63 […]

  119. Bryan O’Bryan » Sexy, sexy Linux Says:

    […] I know it’s been said before (and will be said again), but it’s nice when Mark Shuttleworth says it. […]

  120. Mark Shuttleworth (Ubuntu): “Pretty” is a feature… « Williamo’s Blog… Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth » Blog Archive » #13: “Pretty” is a feature […]

  121. ganeshram iyer Says:

    while i agree with Mark on this I guess its a question of pursuing a Mac approach, which is beautiful and functional or Windows approach, which is functional or butt-ugly. I prefer the Windows approach but the comments on this post sort of convinced me otherwise.

  122. Steviant Says:

    Linux distributions should look for their own ways to solve problems as well as copying OS X or Windows.

    Look at the “breadcrumbs” path feature in Nautilus’ browser, and standard Gnome file picker for an example of how Linux can lead instead of follow in GUI design. This feature is as useful and easy to understand as OS X Finder’s column-view, but is implemented in a competely novel way.

    I also like the idea of a configurable menu bar at the top of the screen ala Gnome. It’s the “start menu” from Windows, rethought and re-implemented better in most respects. (More information available at first glance, and one level of cascading removed from the menu structure).

    The cube desktop switching effect in Compiz is beautiful, informative and intuitive. It gives the feeling that you are manipulating a physical object which responds in exactly the way
    you would expect.

    These things are so immediately accessible and comfortable for most people that they barely even percieve that it’s been done differently. They “feel right”. People only complain about things that don’t have this quality. When things look great, respond obviously and promptly and feel right, they just “fit”.

    Linux needs to have more of that quality, it needs to lead the way with intuitive, visually appealing features. You can’t be better than the competition by always following, and you can’t lead the way if you’re not confident that your way is better.

  123. Eaton Says:

    Why does everybody create icons with a glassy effect now? It’s disturbing on the eyes and not a nice thing from a usability standpoint.

  124. David Says:

    I *do* want eye candy I’ll lust after. Beryl, Compvis, etc – all are great. Shiny logos – whatever. I still think Gorilla was the best of all Gnome themes, so what do I know?

    Still, that brown theme? I’m sorry, but you’re the one who brought up focusing on superficial things. Goodness knows, I’ve tried to like the Ubuntu theme and colors. Honest. But it just doesn’t work for me. So the first thing I do when I boot up the LiveCD is pick a different wallpaper and color scheme.

    Brown makes Ubuntu unique, and I’m sure some people love the colors. But there’s a reason you don’t find it in other distros. Have a look at a random smattering of wallpapers and photos – what colors do people find pleasing? I don’t see brown as one of them.

    But don’t think that superficial polish is what Ubuntu really needs at this point. I gave the latest Ubuntu LiveCD to my co-worker to try out last week. He took it home, and tried to get it working with WiFi. No dice, even after he had gone online and followed the instructions. The bottom line: it’s worthless for him – too bad, because it looked like it had some neat stuff in it.

    A few days later, I read a slew of similar complaints on Slashdot.

    There are features most of the population consider “make or break” for them. Playback of videos, MP3s, and so on. I’ve got co-workers who’d find Ubuntu ideal, but it lacks some key features. So one’s gone with Apple, because it “just works” for him. Another doesn’t want to hassle with trying to put the missing pieces together (yes, she knows about EasyUbuntu).

    Despite that I’d really, really like to use Ubuntu as my main distro, I’m still holding off until it “Just Works.” Each release looks really, really close, and I’m really tempted – but I’m still sticking with PCLinuxOS.

    Hopefully the next release will change my mind.

  125. The Aesthetic Computing Experience « Caffeinated Gonzo! Says:

    […] ~ Mark Shuttleworth […]

  126. Glen Stampoultzis Says:

    Nice interfaces get people interested but the foundation needs to just work to keep them there. The biggest problem by far with Linux is getting the experience to just work out of the box. It’s come a long way but there’s still so much hardware out there that works poorly or not at all under Linux. The Linux distributions (and kernel developers) need to do everything they can to encourage and support hardware vendors to support Linux.

    I can’t tell you how annoying it is to want to use Linux only to run into basic problems with my hardware. Nice graphics get me interested but a no-fuss system that just works will keep me there.

  127. ben Says:

    i have a multiboot computer using gentoo primarily, with ubuntu as my ‘back up’ system. even though the learning curve on gentoo can be very steep, i enjoy the optimization philosophy behind gentoo, even though compiling can get tiresome at times. but after using gentoo for a while and then booting into ubuntu, watching the boot up messages can be painful. so much stuff gets loaded, which i simply don’t want or need. this is the microsoft philosophy too: just throw everything, including the kitchen sink into a monolithic kernel and load every driver known to man at bootup and the user will somehow have everything they’ll ever need. then come the crashes. i need a desktop system which respects my resources and doesn’t use them up recklessly, just because they’re availabile and it seems ‘easier’ to do. it’s taken some time to get my gentoo box where i want it, but at least i have everything i want and need, but not more (except needed dependencies) and i use fluxbox, not gnome for similar reasons. my kernel has the features i want and need and nothing gets loaded on bootup unless i want it to. i know this all is probably beyond the reach / commitment level of many users ubuntu is targeting who can’t/won’t spend time and effort optimizing their system, but i think ubuntu should trim some bloat and have a straight-forward ‘expert mode’ during installation; as well as system tools, which allow for more optimization and customization of a given system.

    lastly, i’m not trying to promote gentoo at the expense of ubuntu. i really like and support what the ubuntu project is trying to accomplish. gentoo is just too hard for many folks..that’s fine. i just think ubuntu execs and devs could take the best of gentoo’s philosophy and apply it to ubuntu and everyone will win. well that’s my two cents.

    good luck

  128. R Hyre Says:

    The best way to achieve growth is to follow a process:

    1) Develop a culture of product management for the entire distribution AND for the individual components.
    Socialize a user interface and functionality style guide so 10 different developers aren’t implementing 10
    slightly different approaches to the user interface in their individual contributions. Colors schemes are the
    LAST thing to worry about, that layer needs to be customizable by the end user any way. Eye candy only
    helps get attention, the feature/functionality is what will keep them.

    2) Bridge the cultures – maintain the Unix tools philosophy while embracing a component-oriented model to support a graphical user interface. This will allow both styles, command-line, and GUI, to be supported by the same code base. There are times you want to use command line for a batch style of interaction, and the GUI to support the interactive style. This will provide a technical advantage over existing Microsoft offerings.

    3) Leverage scripting and embedded extension languages such as GUILE, or Python, to allow components to be controlled or extended in sensible ways.

    Finally, advertise high-quality reference implementations with design documents, that use these principles, to serve as an example to others. All the contributing user interface designers, software component developers, and front-end (scripting) developers need to all be working from the same playbook.

  129. ImStillWaiting Says:

    I have installed several different flavors of linux a dozen times over the last few years but I’m still a newbie when it comes to the OS. The thing that keeps driving me back to Windows is that I can’t find an open source program (any program) for linux, download it, install it, configure it and use it without going to a scary text based shell. Windows software has friendly GUI installers that explain installation options and holds your hand through the process. Linux has to adress this before it’s ready for the general desktop.

  130. drx Says:

    What do all the people like about the shiny plastic look? I would prefer if all the 24bit pixels would be put to use. What do all these pictures of folders give me, even if they are plastic styled? Let the icon display something useful about the content of the folder at least. How much files are in there, what type, when edited last, folder is copy of another folder maybe? If it is plastic it is new, if it is matte it is old etc … that would be progressive. Everything else is nothing but eye candy, and MacOS has plenty of that, mostly uninventive, just glossy.

  131. ubuntudoesnotwork Says:

    Now if only Ubuntu installed correctly.

    I tried and it gave me memory errors. good grief! how do you expect everyone to use this OS if it won’t even install… and I’m a techie.

  132. Artson Says:

    Maybe better than beauty would be to make absolutely sure that Ubuntu will function for people who access the internet by dial-up as well as that fortunate minority who access it by broadband.

    At the moment ubuntu/kubuntu is booby-trapped against dial-up users:

    dial-up modem users must comment out the ‘auth’ line in /etc/ppp/options and create an empty /etc/resolv.conf file. Once these two arcane measures are taken, dial-up modems work fine. This problem has been incorporated in every kubuntu since at least 5.04.

  133. Lawrence Says:

    If you want pretty you have to pay for it. That means hiring real designers. I recently used Compiz with Fedora Core 6 and while the technology is impressive, the “wobbling” effect made me nauseous. “Pretty” is good fonts (Ubuntu’s fonts at the moment are frankly a bit of a shambles), good graphic design (Ubuntu falls woefully short here) and sensible, attractive colour choices (you can probably second-guess me on this one).

  134. Douglas W. Goodall Says:

    The picture of the people holding hands is cool. It reminds me in a second that the operating system isn’t just for older programmer types like me, but for everone, of any color, any age… It is not unmanly. I found that comment too wierd. The photo embodies ubuntu. Keep it around. It is impportant that ubuntu keeps on course being for all sorts of people. Not just nerds. That is part of it’s appeal, and differentiates it from some other distributions. It is what captured my imagination. Keep up the good work.

  135. Michael Phipps Says:

    I use kubuntu for this very reason – I find it prettier than ubuntu.

  136. ess Says:

    Personally, I want to use Ubuntu. I’d really, really, really like to. I actually sort of like the look of the main distro, to be honest. On the other hand, I hate Windows and its default aesthetic, but I’m still using it. Why am I using it? Because I run windowblinds, which allows me to skin the OS so that it looks like whatever I want (even Linux, if I feel like it).

    You have to get artists USING LINUX to get the benefits of good art on Linux. You need a compelling product like Photoshop. I know the GIMP is good, but people still want an “industry standard” program for their work and comprehensive support for tools like Wacom tablets. Get a good, comprehensive customization tool and then funnel resources into artistic program development and the artwork will sustain itself by creating a competitive community trying to “wow” each other. You just given people the means to make good art on Linux, then give them the reason to use it to the point that they make it comfortable for themselves. That comfort comes through as a “feel.”

    Find out what controls aren’t open to people that want to pimp their PC, then offer a tool that allows them that basic access to Linux. Then set up some sort of Linux “approved” grading system and have teams of people compete for recognition or cash prizes. I can guarantee that the artwork will improve much more than trying to “unify” the look by pointing at a plastic-shiny and saying, “More of that!”

  137. obacht » Ubuntu: “Pretty is a feature” Says:

    […] Mar Shuttleworth über “Schönheit und freie Software”: http://www.markshuttleworth.com/archives/63 […]

  138. PeterH Says:

    Mark (hi there), I’m working on something in the realm of beauty that will blow your socks off, and Ubuntu will have more or less have first shot. I’ll try to call you later (driving from Zurich to London which gets a bit in the way logistically :-) because I would like you /personally/ involved.

    When I’ll tell you what I’m up to you’ll understand why I (a) can’t say any more right now (which is v. frustrating) and (b) why you best stick your nose in. It won’t take much of your time, though – I know how valuable time is..

    /// Peter ///

  139. Tidal Passion Says:

    I like the Earth-tones in Ubuntu. As long as people can customize things a bit, I can’t see any reason for people to complain if they have another preference.
    Also being an OS X user, I hadn’t expected to be quite so impressed on installing Ubuntu. I was particularly surprised at how easy it was to add programs, and keep them all up to date. And mounting/burning disc images was something I figured out in no time, another thing I hadn’t expected.

    I’d like to see a global “report a bug, make a suggestion” feature, where users could provide feedback about any component/program without having to hunt down individual forums. Generally have had a good experience. Some font handling wierdness in a JAVA chat program, would like to see a simpler integrated way of bringing in more media features (mp3 support, DVD and video file playing etc)

  140. Steve Says:

    As we all know Linux is an operating system developed by amateurs with a flair for user interfaces that come out of high school projects.

    Ubuntu is horrible in this regard, with its butt ugly brown dirt look (“the earth”), well duh… whoever thought up the scheme should be flippin burgers.

    Even the ugly boot screen offers no respite from the brown dirt look!

    KDE and GNOME are two fine examples of how NOT to develop GUI’s – the ‘feel’ of both reminds me of Windows 98!

  141. crowmag Says:

    I have ubuntu installed on one of 3 computers I have KVM’d together. I must say that I enjoy it only somewhat better than the default Windows desktop. All of the window managers of any substance are designed around the dreadfully awful “start menu” concept, making a user repeatedly dig through an ever enlarging and confusing menu. It’s a drudgery that most people just accept because they’re use to it.

    Mac desktops are only mildly easier to navigate. Why do you people chase these things? Mark, If you have access to a Windows computer (and I’m sure you do), I would suggest that you check out a little known replacement shell for Windows called bbLean 1.16. It’s based stylistically on the Blackbox WM but the similarities end pretty much right there. What is unusual about this desktop environment is the ease a user can build and customize it to their own specific work method.

    The bbInterface plugin allows users to actually build programmable desktop UI elements on-the-fly via a menu and no programming knowledge and little effort. This is cutting edge stuff, why isn’t anyone paying attention? Why do you chase after the tired out Windows and Mac desktop UI’s. Simply to provide a familiarity factor? That is a road to stagnation. I implore you explore the bbLean\bbInterface desktop paradigm with more than a passing curiosity – or get some else to do it.

  142. RichardW Says:

    Design is what makes the system work – getting the design right is what will decide if Ubuntu is sucessful in the long term. You have make a good start, but that is in competition against other Linux distros, to be ‘cooler’ than OSX and easier to get into than XP & Vista needs to be the goal.
    The Gnome front end is lovely and simple, Evolution is a great email client, but Kmail or Thunderbird is cleaner and more effective on the screen. If I open the file browser in Gnome I can navigate to files, but Konqueror shows me what’s in them at a glance. You have a great opportunity to bring the best of each together to make a simple and effective way to deal with information and forget that you are using a computer. I am making the leap to Ubuntu, but still hit a compromise in selecting the features I like from KDE into the more welcoming world of Gnome.

  143. Hardy Says:

    About the above logo.. The logo itself is ok. The color scheme red/orange/yellow and the glossy. well its ok but there are some other things that are not. The bluish background to that picture. Having a 3d typeface thing going on on the text “ubuntu” . That looks like crap. What need to be adressed is 2 things. And thats not 2 small things. The first is a HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) Everything in the OS neeed to operate in a similiar fashion, wheater you are in Gimp or in some configuration application for apache ( quit, edit/paste, windows, minimize and more consitence and also in the os itself. Menu with applications etc.. Streamkline it more. Look at windows/macos X.. They have come further in this. (not having a zillion applications installed default)

    And the second thing wich is more what this topic is about is, u need a “total ubuntu design profile” , what typefaces where, size, color themes, what colors where , why? shapes? why? etc.. And make them obvious why they are choosen.. Having brown/orange fine.. but is it because its african? Whats that have to do with an operating system..? Ok the word ubuntu.. but hmm.. A corporate executive dont buy that… Make it slick , exiting, maybe not futuristic. Make a classy classic look and feel. And make it consitent. No 3d logos please.. Check out real artist and there work like ex seigmeister. Dont work with computer people on this and artist that only been working with computer graphics etc. Get on guy that are an ordinary artist and get him to make this design profile for you. And then you will get something really Great!

  144. Hardy Says:

    oh and blue.. like in macos X and windows is so overused.. will be good for people to feel familiar but from an artistic pov it sucks. Everything the same… I think linux have come a long way very fast even in looks but something really great can come. i know it..

  145. Dean Says:

    Personally I love the brown

  146. Wearyman Says:

    I agree that Linux needs to get prettier. While I don’t want TOO much eye-candy, i relaize that there are many who do.

    Personally, I would like some simple GUI Network Management tools for setting up linux networks both as pure linux, and to mesh with Windows servers. One of the things that keeps many whole shops running on Windows is not the prettieness of the GUI (althought that certianly helps convince the PHB’s) But the fact that linux is a pain in the arse to manage! Unless you want to spend piles of cash on a proprietary linux solution (such as Redhat’s or Novell’s) you get basically no GUI network management utils. You basically have to do EVERYTHING via command line! While that may be a more granular method of doing it, it also makes it very daunting to manage, and keeps FOSS OSes out of enterprise applications.

    Not to mention that if you have to pay piles of cash to get a GUI network management solution, (and the VERY expensive training to learn to use it, remembering that most Admins are already Windows trained and thusly have large sunk costs with respect to training budgets) that pretty much eliminates the cost advantage of using OSS software. The PHB’s are going to say “well then why don’t we just use Windows?” and oss will be out the door.

    Linux needs a STANDARD (IE: comes in EVERY Distro by default) answer to The mmc, Active Directory, and Remote Desktop. This is the 21st century guys. The Terminal needs to go the way of the dodo.

  147. Mad Irish Blog » Blog Archive » Skin Deep is Good Sometimes Says:

    […] Interestingly, an old debate is resurfacing in the Linux community with the recent posting on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog. For those that don’t know, Mr. Shuttleworth is the luminary behind Ubuntu (and the many other *buntu’s) Linux. His company, Canonical, foots the bill for the development of a rather revolutionary new distribution. It is available completely free, and you can even order a free CD sent to you without charge. Their motto at Ubuntu is “it should just work” and by and large their distribution doesn’t disappoint. It is probably one of the best constructed distributions I have ever installed. This is no mean feat. Many Linux companies produce two versions of their distribution – the free version, and the commercial version. The idea is that the free version generates interest and sales of their commercial version. The problem with this model is that often the free versions are buggy and difficult to work with, and serve merely as hooks to shelling out for the commercial version (a la “you wouldn’t be having this problem if you paid for it” alerts). I have found this to be particularly so with the latest Mandriva 2007 Free release, but have also run into it with Fedora. I digress, however. […]

  148. Bob Bawn Says:

    Beautiful would be nice but could we get things like printer and sound card drivers that work first? My recent Ubuntu install on my residential Dell 8200/Canon Pixma involved many hours of trolling around for drivers. Printing/sound is still sporadic at best. (This was, however, by far the easiest and best Linux installation I’ve ever experienced.) WinXP on that same box has no problems with printing or sound. Unfortunately, WinXP also has that annoying malware infestation problem or I wouldn’t even have to bother with Linux. I really just want a machine that my family can use without bugging me for tech support all time and I’m too cheap to buy a Mac.

  149. Og så alligevel… » Blog Archive » What Bikeshed? Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth’s recent post on the new gaudy desktop prettiness of Ubuntu has received a good deal of interest and discussion (more than 130 comments and counting). […]

  150. Cthulhu Says:

    Oddly enough I find both the Mac and the Gnome interface make me spend more time fighting them than being able to work. KDE is for the most part what I use, Windows I fight with almost as much as Mac and Gnome. None of the modern Interfaces KDE, Gnome, Mac, or Windows should impede the users ability to do whatever work they are trying to do. Of all the UI systems I use only KDE allows me to configure it the way I like and allows me to do the work I want with a minimal amount of hassle.


  151. Freddy Martinez Says:

    I also agree with another user’s comment that the biggest thing should be making sure the average user can get their system working with no problem. There is no way to set up PPPoE without command line (my system wouldn’t let me use the graphical set up because it wasn’t accepting my sudo pw). This is a problem because as the user a few comments above me stated, lots of things don’t work out of the box. I’ve helped people on IRC that need help with their all in one printer, but then their scanner doesn’t work. I can’t have multiply programs using sound (I know their is a work around, but their SHOULDN’T be a work around). The important thing should be having a Ubuntu box that will take a user with many different variables and their system should be set to work. I understand the current split with F/OSS vs propriety issues, not all the hardware vendors make it possible to have drivers (Fatality sound card comes to mind) however it is a shame that the community can’t just hack up a driver.

    Let me say the current Ubuntu default desktop is ugly. It is my opinion that brown/orange is an awful combination. I would rather look at the Kubuntu desktop because it doesn’t hurt my eyes to look at it. Look at Kubuntu Edgy, they took a step that involved Blue and Purple, it was controversial, (I enjoyed it) but it broke from KDE blue blue blue blue blue model, making Kubuntu much more distinct.

    I believe *nix is about choice. From what I understand FC6 brought people back to their distro by including desktop effects into their default installed. I played around with XGL/Compiz but decided I didn’t like it. Compiz has a memory leak and slowed down my computer. In hindsight. I was more productive without it. I think maybe for 7.04, we should bundle Beryl/AIGLX or something along those lines, but have an option that says, “Here is what beryl is all about, install it?” and have a beryl walkthrough. Alternatively, we would need a one-click Beryl uninstalled for users unhappy with desktops effects.

  152. mikee Says:

    i would agree, pretty AND stable should do it.

  153. WolfmanZ Says:

    It’s obvious that Mark, among others, just doesn’t get it. Eye candy is not what the world needs to make Linux a viable OS replacement on the corporate or home desktops. KDE and/or Gnome do a fine enough job for most users (of course power users like to tweak).

    What Linux needs to be successful is better / more fool-proof installation shells for applications! I consider myself very technically inclined (24 years experience with computer hardware/software – work in the industry – my first computer ran DOS 3.2 – pre-windows, etc.) I’ve played around with many different Linux distro’s (Ubunto, OpenSuse, RedHat, Knoppix, Debian, OpenBSD, Slackware, etc). The one problem I’ve run into on every one is getting the various applications I need installed.

    Regardless of how well the company making the dristo does in implementing their “packaging” software, I always end up needing to research dependancies, permissions, and/or text-based configurations on my own. The dependancies are the worst! This application depends on that library which isn’t included. That library depends on another. That library has some archane configuration file that about 68% fully documented, etc.

    No non-technical corporate or home users are going to be able to go through all that. It’s frustrating enough for us geeks!

    Windows on the other hand has the rare odd case that requires a VB runtime or the .net framework installed. Other than that, 99.99% of the applications out there install/run right out of the box (download).

    (I assume this is true for Macs as well – I don’t get my Macbook until spring!)

    So until the Linux application developers and homebrew coders out there can their stuff to install AND configure easily through a simple GUI, Linux will never succeed in the mainstream marketplace.

    (Doing my best Earl Pitts impersonation)
    WolfmanZ Out!

    PS. Currently dual booting Ubuntu and OpenSuse 10 – both with Compix – now that’s eye candy!

  154. Dave Jenkins - Salt Lake - Washington - London - Stuttgart - Tokyo - Seoul » Network World Says:

    […] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Leave aReply […]

  155. digital end » Blog Archive » Make Linux pretty? Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of the Ubuntu project reckons that Linux and (specifically) ubuntu should be made prettier. I have to agree! […]

  156. Steve Says:

    How about making it work? I’ve used linux on and off for a few years. The reason I go back to Windows and MacOS….dependency hell and software install issues (ex. trying to get mpalyer installed properly). Linux has to do everything Mac and Win does and do it easy or non-tech folks will never go for it. Why I should ahve to download all kinds of additional files just to get mpg playback is just plain stupid. Eye candy is nice, but functionality is king.

  157. lyceum Says:

    If you really want to shake things up, forget the color wars. Mac went white, Microsoft went Black. They both look good and they skipped color. We should do one better. Make our color “clear”. Not compleatly clear, but see through. Even better, set it up to change the clock, etc lighter or darker as needed per the back ground. Do that, and you will change the world. Everyone has a fav color, and you will never make everyone happy. With clear, focus can be on the icons and the background. Both need attention.

  158. Andy Says:

    Glad to hear that the boss thinks things need brightening up :)

    Having installed hundreds of Ubuntu / Kubuntu systems for peoples of all ages, the first comment I get is:

    Ubuntu – looks kinda dark and dull, how can I brighten up everything?

    Kubuntu – ahh, this looks better… its what I’m used to 😀

    Maybe just a basic “enlightening” of the desktop would be a major first step :)


  159. Luke.ZA Says:

    I am no expert, but would it be impossible to impliment web-like rollover icons / transitional icons for the desktop, let’s say on mouseover… instead of just highlighting and the common sort? Leaving murky trails when dragging icons around etc. Colours are incredibly important; not really if it’s brown or blue or white, but the overall feel the scheme gives the user. Maybe I’m way behind/ahead (of) myself here, or if considering implimentation of some of these features would be too high a load on memory/cpu? Oh well, just a thought! Miserable humidity in Durban can cloud one’s mind! You’re electric?

  160. Jared Martin Says:

    Compiz/Beryl is definitely the future of linux. Ubuntu should be the first ones there. I feel that i blows the graphics of both Vista and Mac away. And I’ve also found many people willing to switch to linux for that reason.

    Also, the Brown was fine, but it’s getting old. Why not a dark green (also natural yet Alive) or an nice Orange more similar to the Brown you like so much.

  161. gNewSense: Finally, a modern GNU+Linux Distribution that is 100% Free Software at Understanding Says:

    […] I have experienced practical benefits of Ubuntu over Debian. Firstly in terms of hardware detection, as I tried to install Debian on my computer in July 2006 and it failed to detect my SATA harddisks and would not install, while Ubuntu installed perfectly. And secondly in terms of prettyness; as Mark Shuttleworth is fond of saying, “Pretty Is A Feature”. […]

  162. Max Says:

    XGL+Compiz/Beryl on CD 1! Make it an option at install time.

    It is For The Win. I know a guy who didn’t have a good word to say about linux three months ago (he even went so far as to install a Windows background on his account at UCT’s Mark Shuttleworth Lab) but since he saw the Beryl video… he boots ubuntu just to swish his windows around. Soon he’ll actually be using it for something.

  163. Johnny Chadda » Stunning Linux desktop effects steal the spotlight from competitors Says:

    […] I recently posted a notice called Artwork is a feature, which points to a recent post by Mark Shuttleworth where he discusses the importance of having beautiful artwork to appeal to a broad audience. He says: “We have to make it gorgeous. We have to make it easy on the eye. We have to make it take your friend’s breath away.” […]

  164. Sayash Says:

    seriously, think beyond XGL, which alienates old hardware.
    have you tried e17?
    the devs say it’s pre alpha. it’s still more stable than anything i’ve used.
    need i say anything about it’s looks.

  165. Shane Says:

    I’ve noticed that developers look down on artists. In fact many developers seem to think because they can compile or install the Gimp, they are automatically qualified as designers. Much of the popular design on places like kde/gnome-look.org are copies and ports of skins from Windows and Mac. I’ve seen linux users wonder why more artists and designers don’t get involved in linux. It’s simple, they aren’t welcomed.

    By the way, the new installer in Edgy is terrible. This is the worse Ubuntu release ever.

  166. Adrian Says:

    GIVE BACK PRIVATE SPACE – An operating system is no different from a garden. We cast our eyes over the OS space thousands of times per day, should that space belong to us or Ubuntu?
    Be the first OS to remove the branding from the menu bar and see how the world recieves the gesture. (Don’t worry we still have to stare at it during boot up).

    COLLABORATIVE CUSTOMISATION FRAMEWORK – XGL is cool, but its still a bit of an abstraction if you ask me. A display panel is not 3D.
    Windows could fade and decay in a far more organic way if you ran some sort of cellular automata process over them. But I dont know how to do that so I’m going to shut up,

  167. Fixx Software, Inc. » Blog Archive » SUSE Linux 10 vs. Ubuntu Edgy 6.10 Says:

    […] Ubuntu Edgy: Mark Shuttleworth made a posting in his blog recently that “Pretty” is a feature. Well they are still off the mark with this release on that count. For all the changes and growth that Ubuntu has made in the short amount of time that it has been around, the looks just have not kept up with the rest of the changes. The color scheme is starting to get dated, and the graphics have not changed much. After spending some time on the GNOME art site things started to look much better. The default install includes an excellent selection of software for a distribution that comes on one CD. The time between Edgy and Dapper was rather short so as one would expect there are no major changes. Most of the packages are simple updated from the previous release. There where really only two big changes that I have found. Edgy is now using a generic kernel that replaces the K7 and i686 kernel from past distributions. The other change is with Nautilus, it is not nearly as stable as in past releases. Edgy uses apt for its package management, and after making a few changes to the source list there is pretty much nothing that can not be install quick and easy. […]

  168. Masuran.org » Blog Archive » What Feisty Fawn needs Says:

    […] Desktop effects This was a predictable item on the list. To quote Mark shuttleworth: “Pretty is a feature”. Not only is it just pretty, some desktop effects actually improve usability and make a better user experience. One of them is the Desktop Cube. It does not only look very cool, it also makes the concept of workspaces much easier to understand. […]

  169. Hebert Caballero Says:

    I just imagined a TV commercial. One Big Man tryed to defeat an Old Man. This Old Man reveals himself as a powerfuld fully trained Aikido or KungFu Master. In only one elegant and fast movement ghe take the Big Man hand and trow it to the ground with ease. Off course we need years and experience to finetune our abilities, but this is the reason for call Kung Fu or Aikido an Art. The Old Man just shows perfection is not a big show of energy-waste, its just to use elegant and efficiently what we have to get what we want… Like Linux. Beauty is behind our work and efforts. Bacause putting our life in this goal is an Art too. I want to make this idea free to use only and only if used to promote the use of Free Software, Linux or Ubuntum, and disallowing it to be used for Privative Software promotion.

  170. cor de cocô at Caveat Emptor Says:

    […] Mas acho que tem alguém que discorda: Mark Shuttleworth, o homem por trás da distribuição Linux de maior sucesso da atualidade. Segundo ele, beleza é importante para um produto. E como nada acontece com o Ubuntu sem seu aval, só podemos imaginar que a insistência naquela horrenda interface marrom se deve à crença de que a cor é bonita, e é o que os usuários querem. […]

  171. Scott Says:


    Talk about putting the cart before the horse. All the eye candy in the world is irrelevant if the fonts are fuzzy. Yeah, Beryl and stuff is nice for the marketing effect, but people read web pages and documents more than they play with rotating cubes and wobbly windows. They may come for the eye candy, but they won’t stay.

    If you go over to the Ubuntu forums there’s an endless thread on different patches and kludges to improve font rendering. None of them really work. It makes by head hurt messing with that stuff.
    If fonts look great on the desktop, they look wrong in Firefox and OpenOffice, and so on.
    At this point it’s 85% there, but just not good enough.

  172. ark Says:

    Ubuntu colors can be slightly modified to look prettier without making any too-radical changes. Ubuntu could adopt the colors from this photo: http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=323872200&size=o

  173. q!Bang Solutions » Blog Archive » Andrew Tanenbaum on Building Reliable Systems Says:

    […] What I see more in software development in general, is no longer performance improvements or meaningful features, I see a lot of eye candies being added. Some people may argue that pretty is a feature, but is this all we can come up with? What good is eye candy if the system can’t even run reliably? I recall being told once that hardware and network speed is so fast now that we can “code sloppy”. I have to disagree. Anyone who’s done the basic computer science algorithm study can tell you that a bad algorithm can really suck up your resources, and depending on the operating system you are running, it may even crash your computer. […]

  174. q!Bang Solutions Blog » Andrew Tanenbaum on Building Reliable Systems Says:

    […] What I see more in software development in general, is no longer performance improvements or meaningful features, I see a lot of eye candies being added. Some people may argue that pretty is a feature, but is this all we can come up with? What good is eye candy if the system can’t even run reliably? I recall being told once that hardware and network speed is so fast now that we can “code sloppy”. I have to disagree. Anyone who’s done the basic computer science algorithm study can tell you that a bad algorithm can really suck up your resources, and depending on the operating system you are running, it may even crash your computer. […]

  175. Intel® Software Network Blogs » Blog Archive » Software must be beautiful Says:

    […] Ubuntu’s Mark Shuttleworth posted an entry to his blog in which he states that software needs to be beautiful and functional in order to be really successful, to be embraced by the world. […]

  176. Shuttleworth from Ubuntu Gives Talk at CERN at JStorage Says:

    […] #13 Pretty is a feature #12 Consistent Packaging #11 Simplified, rationalised licensing #10 Presence #9 Pervasive support #8 Govoritye po Russki? #007 Great gadgets #6 Sensory Immersion #5 Real real-time collaboration #4 Plan, execute, DELIVER #3 The Extra dimension #2 Granny’s new camera #1 Keeping it FREE […]

  177. Robert Says:

    Pretty is nice. Working hardware is much more important. I switched to Ubuntu a few weeks ago, and I love the many parts of it that work. I am thankful for all the generous labor that has been done to enable users to have free software. Free, and in many cases beautiful. But software, regardless of free or beautiful, is of no use if it doesn’t work with printers, scanners, and the like. Emphasis on the *no* in no use.

    My scanner is a paperweight under Linux. My printer seemed to be destined for that fate. It was rescued (or rather I was rescued) when I managed to shoehorn in a driver from another manufacturer to make it work. Sort of.

    I do not want to appear ungrateful. But Ubuntu, and Linux generally, can be taken seriously only when they enable hardware to work.

  178. Hakim Says:

    I have been using ubuntu for a couple of years now (alongside windows and osx). And I was glad when I first read this post. I must say I have been constantly disappointed ever since.

    Pretty is a feature – I totally agree…..BUT it’s very far from done with logo’s, icons and wallpapers… And in my humble opinion we could successfully leave this to the great ubuntu community.

    If the OS is to be pretty to things are essential:


    THEME – I’m talking about window corners and such – I simply don’t understand why Gnome has to be so ugly, it looks like a 1996 webpage.

    These are the things that make an OS pretty!!

    I believe very much in Ubuntu, but we have to and can look as good as mac – get that focus and user will be flocking….

    I hope you read this post…

    sincerely Hakim

  179. GiorgosK Says:

    Creating something nice is not that hard but, making something extremelly beautiful is art and it takes time
    ( like anything else in this world I guess )

  180. The Opinions of a Loud Mouth Man :: Get your hands dirty. Says:

    […] It is tempting to configure this machine further since it can access the Internet but I feel this would be unfair  for an “out of the box” demonstration of what  is on offer in Ubuntus latest release .  So it comes as a relief that the Home Directory of my initial configuration comes with a series of example Video, Audio, Graphic and Documents which I can use as part of my presentation. What I hope to gain from this presentation is an on going awareness that the choice available to users , Home or Business, do not require complete hardware upgrades  to benefit from interesting and “pretty” operating systems and applications. I hope the winner of this pre-installed PC will take time to experiment and examine the potential that Ubuntu Desktop offers to any user.  I will be providing an additional 2 hour orientation course to help the user “get ubuntu” and blogging more about their experiences and opinions.  Whilst I am no developer or bug catcher or ticket clicker I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Ubuntu team for this incredible “product”   and my appreciation for the continued quality and production value shown within. This year I am looking forward  to installing more Ubuntu Desktops and keeping those Ubuntu users coming back for more. […]

  181. Ubuntu | Nik Butler: Get your hands dirty. Says:

    […] It is tempting to configure this machine further since it can access the Internet but I feel this would be unfair  for an “out of the box” demonstration of what  is on offer in Ubuntus latest release .  So it comes as a relief that the Home Directory of my initial configuration comes with a series of example Video, Audio, Graphic and Documents which I can use as part of my presentation. What I hope to gain from this presentation is an on going awareness that the choice available to users , Home or Business, do not require complete hardware upgrades  to benefit from interesting and “pretty” operating systems and applications. I hope the winner of this pre-installed PC will take time to experiment and examine the potential that Ubuntu Desktop offers to any user.  I will be providing an additional 2 hour orientation course to help the user “get ubuntu” and blogging more about their experiences and opinions.  Whilst I am no developer or bug catcher or ticket clicker I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Ubuntu team for this incredible “product”   and my appreciation for the continued quality and production value shown within. This year I am looking forward  to installing more Ubuntu Desktops and keeping those Ubuntu users coming back for more. […]

  182. Dell , linux e o Brasil « Random Dumplings of Wisdom Says:

    […] Talvez a proxima revolucao venha na facilidade de uso, melhorando a interacao usuario-computador, ja que cedo ou tarde o usuario ainda precisa encarar a linha de comando para realizar operacoes sem o mouse. Isso nao eh algo necessariamente ruim, mas muitos precisam usar o computador como solucao, e nao como desafio, na solucao de problemas diarios (nessa linha de raciocinio, usuarios da Apple sabem como o aspecto “cosmetico” eh importante). Essa revolucao esta nos planos do guru da distribuicao Ubuntu, Mark Shuttleworth.   […]

  183. baby Says:

    To be honest, I haven’t been totally captivated by the artwork in Ubuntu yet. Now, I love the logo which you chose (the one above) but the colouring of the interface (the default one – which I know is going for an Africa theme… but nevetheless) isn’t really wonderful enough. It’s a little bland. Being South African, I’m all for an African theme, but it could have been a little more colourful than that.

    The pic of the tree for the desktop is pretty cool… but, I’m sure that in general the interface could have looked better.

    Or operated a little better. I’m still a little disappointed with Ubuntu being a fairly average user of an Operating System. I actually desperately want to change from Windows, but Ubuntu just hasn’t captured me as much as I’d like.

    Hope there is more to come, nonetheless, and encourage you to keep going!!

  184. Firefox Extensions « Experiencing E-Learning Says:

    […] (do you really care?). There’s also some visual changes available through themes. “Pretty is a feature” […]

  185. Ubuntu 7.10 X Windows Vista雙重開機 « Chin7’s Weblog Says:

    […] Ubuntu的中心理念是「以人道待人」,每次改版也都明顯感覺它變的越來越簡單,安裝則是不能再更無腦了。在前一版Ubuntu 7.04首度加入封閉原始碼驅動程式的安裝選項,曾引起不小的爭議,因為一般Linux基於道德因素不會有這種特色,但Ubuntu為了讓漂亮的3D桌面更容易啟動,在操作簡易與道德之間做了很好的平衡,Mark甚至直接承認作業系統的「華麗度」對一般人非常重要(“Pretty” is a feature)。對於有道德潔癖的龜毛人,Ubuntu也推出「聖人級道德標準」的特殊版本Gobuntu,這種單純為各種使用者著想的態度讓我很欣賞。 […]

  186. Mysterious eyes » Blog Archive » 3D桌面的安装和设置 Says:

    […] Ubuntu的中心理念是「以人道待人」,每次改版也都明顯感覺它變的越來越簡單,安裝則是不能再更無腦了。在前一版Ubuntu 7.04首度加入封閉原始碼驅動程式的安裝選項,曾引起不小的爭議,因為一般Linux基於道德因素不會有這種特色,但Ubuntu為了讓漂亮的3D桌面更容易啟動,在操作簡易與道德之間做了很好的平衡,Mark甚至直接承認作業系統的「華麗度」對一般人非常重要(“Pretty” is a feature)。對於有道德潔癖的龜毛人,Ubuntu也推出「聖人級道德標準」的特殊版本Gobuntu,這種單純為各種使用者著想的態度讓我很欣賞。 […]

  187. I Wanna Migrate to *nix Says:

    Hi Mark,

    I am a fellow South African, I stand behind the free movement 100%.

    One thing that concerns me about the free movement is that there is no standard!!!

    EG: Ubuntu vs Fedora

    Installation proceedure differs when using GUI (One uses yast the other adept)

    When *nix systems become standard out of box, with a simlar feel, with easy usability it will become popular, only after usability has been address start looking at visuals.

    Compatability between M$ products needs to be a standard, it should not be up to the end user to install wine etc. to get M$ products to work, or better yet have products very similar to the mainstream titles like Photoshop and Dreamweaver.

    Your average M$ computer user is someone that does not understand what goes on behind the curtains of window$, so for someone like this to migrate, it is very difficult.

    Without ease of use *nix systems will never (I say never, but proove me wrong pleeaaasssee) become main stream.

    The fist things that need to be looked at:

    1. Ease of use (for someone that has never used a PC before)
    2. Point and click installations with GUI setups (NETWORING GUI–>PPPOE)
    3. Central Storage for installed apps (eg: M$ Program Files) I know *nix mostly used /etc/ or /usr or /var
    4. Compatability (Wine just has not got it 100% yet)
    5. Visualls with smooth fonts.
    6. Easy Driver Installations (When necessary)
    7. Media support (Easy to install or out of box support)
    8. Hardware Compatability (almost there already)
    9. Easy customisation through GUI

    One thing is for sure *nix systems will not get avarage M$ users to switch untill the first 5 are up to standard. When the first 5 are up to standard *nix systems will rival any M$ based system for ease of use, and production. As my productivity is reduced on *nix due to having to use console to change files access restricted files, change system settings, install apps that don’t have installers etc etc.

    But overall once *nix system is setup and running stability is second to none.

    But again the average M$ computer user is installing and removing software on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, which again will reduce productivity if it were on *nix system.

    These are my observations and views, and I strongly feel that *nix has potential to be the greatest OS’s, but this can only happen if *nix community starts to standardise, and hopefully produce a product that will be able to end M$ reign as most used OS.

  188. Diigo or Delicious for Beginners? « Experiencing E-Learning Says:

    […] prettier than delicious, and “pretty is a feature.” In some respects, I feel like the more attractive interface might actually be less […]

  189. The future of Ubuntu Art | MetaFilter Says:

    […] for the darling of the open source world? Now entering a new 2-year art developent cycle, Ubuntu’s continuing quest for "pure, unadulterated, raw, visceral, lustful, shallow, skin deep beauty" has begun […]

  190. Pretty is a feature, but ugly is subjective « Motho ke motho ka botho Says:

    […] I know: Pretty is a feature. Every time somebody gripes — and yes, I’m using the word “gripe” […]

  191. SomGNU » Blog Archive » Un parell d’apunts sobre Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex Says:

    […] En fi, hi ha moltes més novetats, però això caldrà revisar-ho més endavant, quan ja estiguem a prop de la versió final. Com podeu comprovar, s’han quedat amb el tema Human taronja de sempre. Ja vore si finalment el canvien d’una vegada i compleixen allò de “ser més macos que el MacOSX“. […]

  192. Why do people hate me for using a Mac... - Page 8 - Mac-Forums.com Says:

    […] a selling point (think about the recognition Macs get for looking the way they do). If you believe Mark Shuttleworth, "pretty" is a feature. There are some useful features of Aero that I would like to see […]

  193. Cnet: Ubuntu is as slick as OS X and Windows. Me: Bullshit « Ubuntu Syndrome Says:

    […] Mark Shuttleworth wants to make Linux beautiful, he’s going to have to fix some of the basic stuff first.  Worrying about whether some […]

  194. El que vindrà amb Karmic Koala | SomGNU Says:

    […] recordar aquell objectiu que en Shuttleworth també va comentar: fer d’Ubuntu un sistema operatiu més atractiu estèticament que el mateix MacOSX. Caldrà veure si amb Karmic Koala ens tornarem a quedar decebuts o no respecte a aquest tema. […]

  195. Solid Block of Ise » Blog Archive » Ubuntu Needs Pretty Icons Says:

    […] while actually, October 2006) Mark Shuttleworth posted an article on his blog claiming that “pretty is a feature” and that Ubuntu needed to put priority on not only functioning well, but also looking good […]

  196. Ubuntu 9.10 – Karmic Koala Reviewed « Sean Jordan—web developer Says:

    […] ago, Mark Shuttleworth proclaimed that ["Pretty" is a feature].  Understanding the trend of the “wow” effect to impress users, Ubuntu comes […]