41 Responses to Ubuntu 9.04 + branding “regression”

  1. I definitely see what you’re saying, but I kind of like the “in your face” technology appeal of the new login screen. I think i just like anything that’s a change. More like “Linux for Cyborgs.”

    Take care.

  2. UnSandpiper says:

    It screams “behold, the future awaits you behind this login gate” then you log in and it’s the good ol’ human theme.

    Still don’t get the reason why they change the default login screen without the having the matching new default theme (which is supposed to come with 9.10?)
    It looks completely detached.

  3. Jeff Waugh says:

    Ubuntu: Linux for Cylons… apparently, they have a plan!

  4. I love the new login screen, it looks really nice, to bad the rest of the theme didn’t get the same visual refresh.

  5. MadsRH says:

    > It looks completely detached.

    I liked the old one better – this one seems too dark and heavy

  6. Evildead says:

    The login screen is really nice, but the splash screen (during boot) is very pixellized.

  7. I totally agree. Ubuntu’s branding has been brilliant. The first two things you experienced, the login screen and the GNOME login sound both completely reset your expectations of using a. Linux and b. technology. This screen could be any old OS. And I would also treat the Ubuntu logo with a little more respect too – it contains a representative meaning which will be lost on anyone who sees it in this context for the first time.

    For all that… it still good.

  8. I agree that it screems “technology” too much, but I do believe that the black backgrounds in GDM and in the background image is an improvement, since there are less flashes and change in display colour during boot. This gives a much improved experience during boot time and it makes Ubuntu appear less clunky.

  9. I dunno. To me this screams “this release is going to be… SHINY!” And then you login, and it looks the same. And then you see the transparent notification box with rounded corners, and you feel that the promise was fulfilled. At least I do 😉

  10. Except the Cylons were kind of stylish…

    Is that really the final login screen? I’d assumed it was a placeholder for the beta; it’s utterly, utterly horrible. It looks like a bad Enlightenment theme from ten years ago.

    But, as you say, everything else about 9.04 is pretty much awesome.

  11. Jeff Parsons says:

    People like to make things shiny because they can — even if it doesn’t look good!

    I live in constant fear of people swooping in and undoing years of incremental improvements like this. (Ok, yes, I know I can replace it with whatever theme I want, but most users will never changed their GDM theme so, to most users, this is what “Ubuntu” looks like.)

  12. tm says:

    Give a try also to ubuntu studio gdm theme (it can be installed separately)!

  13. While I prefer the look of Fedora and Suse to Ubuntu’s and it seems like the first two have a better design process, I sometimes feel that Ubuntu is getting yelled at a bit too often. It seems no matter what they do people will be unhappy.

  14. Andreas: The price of having a large, manifold community I guess. If you manage to attract that many diffent people as Ubuntu does, it seems to become impossible to make everyone happy.

  15. Chris Gaeth says:

    Actually I think the new login screen is a lot more polished and professional. I gave my kids the option (a 8 yr female and two males 13 and 14) and they all picked the new screen. They thought it was cleaner and liked the colors a lot better. But I have the same complaint as the other posters; why did they not carry it all the way through the distro?

  16. Hylke says:

    Mathias: I don’t agree. Fedora has a huge community too (definitely the biggest active art community) and they really come up with the look and feel as a community, with great results. I think I’ve heard the least complaints about openSUSE’s and Fedora’s artwork. openSUSE has a great approach too, but there isn’t a large active art community. I think that’s because openSUSE just looks OK :).

  17. Hylke: But is the Fedora community really as divergent as the Ubuntu community? I’d expect the Fedora community to be more homogene than the Ubuntu community: Fedora just doesn’t get the hype Ubuntu gets, Fedora doesn’t come preinstalled on consumer machines, and so on. So I’d expect the Fedora community to be more homogene and more mature than the Ubuntu community.

    Well, but I don’t have numbers, and I don’t participate in Fedora, so I could be completely wrong.

  18. @Chris Gaeth It may be more polished and professional and we may prefer it… but it can still be a backwards step in branding terms (branding is not simply what we think we like, after all). The old screen was pretty unusual, and had almost a “papery” (earthy, fleshy) quality. It made the division between software and the physical world much less abrupt. It was very clever.

    I used to consider Ubuntu to be the best branded OS, proprietary or free. The use of the Ubuntu logo in the new version, for example, tells you that it is now an element to be incorporated, and not a logo with meaning (given that it is presented at a strange angle and partially obscured). It might just as well be the Suse logo…

  19. neo says:

    Mathias Hasselmann.

    Fedora has a more contributor oriented community which is different from Ubuntu’s consumerism but it is a very diverse community as well. The art community there is very large and active as well. I don’t know about hype but Fedora is very much a leader in innovative technologies that make their way into other distributions including Ubuntu.


    Derivatives are included in OLPC, Acer Inspire and even a gaming console



  20. Jeff Parsons says:

    @Chris Gaeth: I would suggest that what a child prefers is not always the best measure of a professional look.

    The ubuntu logo as presented in the new theme reminds me of this really great shiny plastic toy I had as a child where one would plug the various plastic pieces together to make people, or animals, or even cars…

    But I don’t play with that much anymore.

    It seriously looks (to me) to have that all too familiar look of “ooh, I can make things shiny, or fade out, or {XYZ other effect}, or really dark (“oh so cool!”), so I’ll do them all and make a picture out of it”, rather than having some kind of reasoned and justifiable composition.

    I wasn’t a *huge* fan of the previous theme, but at very least it was neat, and clean of any “my first {2d/3d graphics editor} tutorial” gimmicks.

  21. Jeff Waugh says:

    @Jeff Parsons: Yes, this image reminds me of the kind of gauche logo-fetish fanboy art we see on theme sites, not a well-thought-out element of the brand experience. 🙂

  22. Jeff Waugh says:

    @Andreas Nilsson: Ah, the terrible struggle of having a product or brand which people feel strongly about. Despite the increased negative attention, I think the increased attention in general — and very strong feelings — is a massive boon for them.

    The proof is in the pudding:

  23. I completely agree. I thought the GDM theme was a place holder until they got a new one in the beta. What’s worse is that you can’t get the old theme in Jaunty. I suppose you could find the old Ibex package.

  24. Oh, and the theme looks like someone booted POV-Ray for the first time, hacked in it for 10 minutes and called it a day.

  25. devolute says:

    I’m no fan of the constant barrage of orange, but the new one just looks tacky!

  26. Jeff Waugh says:

    @devolute: In that case, I apologise that my blog is so orange between 00:00 and 01:00… 😉

  27. Ben says:

    I’ll often change my login screen, but I am happy with this one dawg. It fits well with my computer room’s decor.

  28. Christian says:

    My first impression on seeing the new login screen was “Ubuntu, the space-age Linux distribution!”

  29. Petteri says:

    New one looks quite ugly. It is sharp, shiny and cold opposite to everything the old one was.

  30. Jeff: yeah, I think you have a point there. The brown color was yelled at quite a lot, but it totally made the system stand out. All news are good news, or whatever the saying is.

  31. Thanks, your post made me do “sudo dpkg-reconfigure kdm” and chose gdm – looking forward to the new theme.

  32. BJ McCormick says:

    I like it. The black background hides the flickering during X startup and GDM login.

  33. David says:

    I’d be a lot happier about it if it just didn’t have the shiny logo. It’d feel far warmer and “human” then.

  34. Matt says:

    Yea i don’t like the new theme. The plus side it made me make my own!

  35. Michael "Brand" Howell says:

    If Ubuntu wanted to change their look, that’s fine with me. WHY did they leave the job half done?!

  36. Timothy Lord says:


    I upgraded one of my machines (have not yet re-upgraded, mine is still alpha 6, actually) to Jaunty, and had the opposite reaction. I think it looks cool and modern, but not sterile “businesslike” (which is what I think of, say, Windows 98 and XP’s startup screens).


  37. Paul says:

    It still seems to be called “Human” in the GDM configurer but in what sense is it “Human”?

    As Jeff suggests it is more Cylon, and early, clanky Cylon era at that.

  38. Vexorian says:

    I would have liked the new gdm theme if the rest of the default theme actually fit with it. But now the gdm theme and the rest of it are a little inconsistent IMHO. Of course, I never really gave that much importance into ubuntu’s default theme, part 1 of the good things about it is that you are not locked into a single theme and it is always fun and legal to make it fit YOUR taste.

  39. Leif says:

    I much prefer the old login theme. The new one is obnoxious and looks like something a photoshop filter junkie would make.

  40. Ryan says:

    It’s like they discovered 3d graphics 48 hours before release day. Kewl!

  41. Brett says:

    But now everything changes again as they upgraded GDM. Have you seen the new login screen in Karmic? It looks like a regular desktop with a window for a login process. Personally, although I’ve been using Linux for years… I was quite confused!

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