Watch Your Back(ground)

They say that beauty is only skin deep — if that is true, then Linux has a good shot at Miss World, as its available skins are many and varied indeed. As the impending release of Ubuntu 9.10 — colorfully named the Karmic Koala — draws near, it's time to begin thinking about its skin, and that's exactly what the Ubuntu Artwork Team is up to.

The Ubuntu default theme — known as Human — is perhaps the most aptly named of all themes in computing, regardless of operating system, bar none. It is often said that one of the great human tendencies is to argue, particularly over the trivial, and it may well be the case that there is more argument over the "brown theme" than any other aspect of the distribution. Ladies and gentlemen, now is your chance to flex your human tendencies and land your choice of colors on the backdrop of some thirty percent of Desktop Linux users.

The Ubuntu Artwork Team Lead, Kenneth Wimer, issued a call last week for interested parties to submit images to be considered for the background collection included in the next Ubuntu release, scheduled to appear at the end of October. A deadline for submissions was not included in Wimer's posting, nor was one readily apparent from the Artwork Team's site as of press time.

Rules regarding submitted artwork are fairly simple: submissions should avoid using the Ubuntu logo, at least in a prominent fashion, as "It appears in enough places already." They should avoid text, which does not scale well and presents a significant translation hurdle, as well as avoid version numbers, as the backgrounds should be usable and relevant for previous and future releases. Consideration of the overall theme is important, and restraint is encouraged with regard to tone and contrast in color, so as not to overpower the rest of the theme's elements. Small patterns require special care, as they present scaling challenges. Submissions must not include artwork that is not freely licensed (that is, that allows editing and redistribution) unless explicit permission is granted for such use.

As always, file formats are a key element of the process. While photos and the like should use JPG, bitmap images should utilize the PNG format and include any available XCF source, if The GIMP was used to create the image. The SVG format is required for all vector images. The guidelines include a special note that while Photoshop, Illustrator, and other proprietary applications may be used to create submissions, the proprietary formats used by those programs are not acceptable. Templates for both Inkscape (SVG) and The GIMP (XCF) are available from the Artwork Team's documentation page, as is a listing of aspect ratios to be considered.

There are three categories of background submissions being accepted: works to be considered for the default background, abstract art submitted for the inclusion in the release's alternate backgrounds, and photographs to be considered for alternate backgrounds. Submissions should be added to the relevant category's page in accordance with the rules for listing submissions.

A Flickr group — Ubuntu Artwork — is also available, and the Artwork Team hopes it will help draw in contributors who would otherwise be unaware of the opportunity. All submissions, regardless of the category in which they are submitted, must be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license.

Now is the time, today is the day — help to drive away the evil "brown theme" menace by including your artwork among that available to those who risk it all and make the arduous right click to pick an alternate theme.


Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.


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Make it distro neutral

mikesd's picture

with the phrase "use your favorite software installation method"

Personally, I use opensuse, I like zypper and yast. However some people like yum. Others swear by compiling from source.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Re: Linux Journal Whiners And Complainers...

John and Dagny Galt's picture

Re: Linux Journal Whiners And Complainers...

The "anonymous" whiners and complainers should either shut-up and/or submit their own contributions to be included content and/or start their own website/blog/journal/rag/etc.

I use Windows AND Mac OSX AND *nix distros of all shapes, sizes, flavors, and I enjoy them all in some manner or fashion.

Linux Journal is on my bookmark toolbar and is one of several *nix websites I visit daily...without fail...


John and Dagny


Good for you

theillien's picture

You use multiple OSes and get your news from multiple sources. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you aren't the only one. I'm also going to go out on a limb and say that not everyone has the chops to write articles for a professionally compiled magazine. That would be one of many reasons why people turn to Linux Journal.

Those of us who don't use Ubuntu have begun to feel more and more alienated by a magazine we've turned to for Linux news for so long. I can say that since I wrote my own Letter to the Editor in the May '09 issue addressing this topic that I've seen less blatant Ubuntu proselytizing. I'm not looking for articles directed solely at my distro of choice nor am I looking for a complete abolishment of any distro specific writing. I'm simply looking to not be bombarded with information on one distro when I don't use it. Especially from a publication that is dedicated to Linux in general. I'm sure others are seeking the same.

I wondered who it was

mikesd's picture

that wrote that. It echoed my feelings perfectly. I'm a openSUSE fan and I use Yast or Zypper. I hate Debian, and all it's flavors. Every time I see an Apt command I wanna scream.

That which does not kill me only postpones the inevitable.

Article Assignment Letter

Mitch Frazier's picture

At my behest we added the following to our "article assignment letter" 6 months ago or so:

... Also, don't assume that because you use Ubuntu, that readers use Ubuntu also. Don't tell readers to use apt-get to install things; stick to a generic term. ...

I make every effort to remove or "genericalize" Ubuntuisms in the articles and web posts that I review. However, not everything that goes on the web or in the magazine goes through me.

In the end though, I'd rather have people send me articles full of Ubuntuism's than send me .doc files (if you get my drift).

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

ubuntu journal

Anonymous's picture

They should either change the name of the magazine to "Ubuntu Journal" or create said magazine and start to focus "Linux Journal" on distribution-independent linux material (or at least not 95%+ biased towards 1 distribution). I remember back BU (Before Ubuntu), the mag was much better.

Honestly, I think the best section is the ultra tiny 1 page "diff -u". What would be interesting to see, since there seems to be such a need to devote the entire magazine to Ubuntu, would be regular articles similar to "diff -u" for each of say 5-10 distributions (and I *don't* mean 5 different Ubuntu variants). Perhaps the most popular distributions (unless something notable comes up related to a lesser known distro) could be covered...say: Ubuntu, Fedora, Slackware, Debian, etc... It might also be nice to throw in some of the light weight distributions such as minix or puppy. I don't know if enough changes over the course of a month for many of these, but it's an idea that will help to please those of us that don't use Ubuntu and at least help the mag appear to be more neutral.

Never Fear

Mitch Frazier's picture

Not all of us here at LJ are Ubuntu fans, truth be told the more I use Ubuntu, which isn't much, the more I dislike it. I'm also not a big fan of Gmail...

Mitch Frazier is an Associate Editor for Linux Journal.

sweet...maybe you can lean

Anonymous's picture

sweet...maybe you can lean on the other writers and ask that they write about something other than ubuntu...


Anonymous's picture

Is Ubuntu all you can talk about? GEEZ!

Watch Your Back(ground)

bill 's picture

enough about ubuntu...seriously