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The Shuttleworth FAQ (part 3): Brown is the new black

By   |  October 20, 2005

This FAQ (frequently asked questions) was first published on the Ubuntu wiki. We thank Mark and his team for permission to republish it in Tectonic. Due to length, we have split the FAQ into multiple parts.

Why is the default desktop in Ubuntu BROWN?
The overarching theme of the first set of Ubuntu releases is \”Humanity\”. This drives our choice of artwork as much as our selection of packages and decisions around the installer. Our default theme in the first four releases of Ubuntu is called \”Human\”, and it emphasises warm, human colours — brown.

Yes, that\’s rather unusual in a world where most desktops are blue or green, and the MacOSX has gone kitchenware. Partly, we like the fact that Ubuntu is different, warmer. The computer is not a device any more, it\’s an extension of your mind, your gateway to other people (by e-mail, Voip, IRC, and over the Web). We wanted a feel that was unique, striking, comforting, and above all, human. We chose brown. that\’s quite a high risk choice, because to render brown your screen has to render subtle shades of blue, and green, and red. Even slight variations from the norm can shift the \”brown\” substantially. But monitors and LCD screens these days are increasingly of a standard that we felt the risk was acceptable. In Hoary and Breezy we have gone with a richer, redder brown, based on feedback from lower-end laptop and LCD screen users.

Will brown always be the default desktop colour?
Unlikely that ANYTHING will be static forever, given that we expect Ubuntu to be around a long time

Our current plan is that the Dapper Drake (Ubuntu 6.04 if we hit our April 2006 release date goal) will be the last of this first \”set\” of releases. So post-Dapper we have the opportunity to define a new \”feel\” or overarching theme. It would be unlikely to be… blue. But it might be substantially different to the current Human theme. For the moment, let\’s stay focused on the road to Dapper, polish up the existing Human theme to the max for that, and then break new ground post-Dapper.

Why don\’t you call it \”Debian for Desktops\”?
Because we respect the Debian trademark policy. You may have watched the mind-bending contortions around the definition of \”DCC Alliance\” recently for an example of what happens when people don\’t. Very simply, the Ubuntu project is not Debian, so it has no right to use the name. And using the name would weaken Debian\’s own brand name. In addition, we like the \”humanity\” aspect of the name Ubuntu, so we chose that.

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