Call for testing: Aubergine-love for Server folks!

Dustin Kirkland kirkland at
Sat Mar 19 03:55:35 UTC 2011

On Fri, Mar 18, 2011 at 1:54 PM, Scott Kitterman <ubuntu at> wrote:
> On Thursday, March 17, 2011 10:01:51 pm Dustin Kirkland wrote:
>> Howdy Ubuntu-devel and Ubuntu-server,
>> We just uploaded a couple of small patches a week ahead of
>> UserInterfaceFreeze to five packages that affect the console tty and
>> vt interface.  We're hoping you can help test this on your hardware
>> and let us know if you find any adverse affects (please subscribe me
>> to the bug reports, if you do!) :-)
>> The end goals were (Bug #730672):
>>  1) Improve the virtual terminal color palette
>>  2) Modernize the visual experience on Ubuntu servers
>> To solve (1), we wrote a small C program that you should now find in
>> /sbin/setvtrgb.  You can refer to the manpage for the full
>> documentation.  It's a handy utility that reads a set of well-formed
>> RGB values from file and then uses an ioctl to dynamically apply them
>> to all consoles.  This utility is currently provided in the kbd
>> package, and I'm working on getting that upstream into Debian.
>> The default colors used by the Linux kernel are quite simply the
>> traditional 16 VGA colors, which you can find at:
>>  *
>> While perhaps mathematically symmetric, some of those colors are a
>> pretty hard on the eyes.  The Ubuntu Design Team has put quite a bit
>> of effort into selecting a distinctive color scheme for the Ubuntu
>> Desktop, and they have now carefully selected an 16 color palette for
>> server consoles too!
>> So the next three pieces of (1) are solved by a series of uploads to:
>>  * console-setup -- add a conffile at /etc/vtrgb (so that you can
>> customize your own console colors, if you don't like the ones Ubuntu
>> provides!), and an upstart job that applies them on boot with
>> 'setvtrgb /etc/vtrgb'
>>  * rootskel -- call 'setvtrgb /etc/vtrgb' early in the Server and
>> Alternate installer for its virtual terminals
>>  * bogl -- update the colors in the bterm palette used by
>> debian-installer (it happens to hard code them)
>> After upgrading your local system's kbd and console-setup packages,
>> you should now have a crisp, new, clean color scheme in your tty.
>> There should be no affect whatsoever in [X, Gnome, KDE, XFCE,
>> gnome-terminal, konsole] or even SSH sessions to your server.
>> However, if you drop to a command prompt with ctrl-alt-F1, you should
>> see a nice difference.  Note that if for some reason perhaps you
>> prefer the legacy VGA colors, you can revert the change simply with:
>>  $ sudo setvtrgb vga
>> And if you want to make that permanent, follow with:
>>  $ cat /sys/module/vt/parameters/default_{red,grn,blu} | sudo tee
>> /etc/vtrgb
>> And as soon as the daily cdimage builder picks up the changes to
>> rootskel and bogl (within a day or two?), you should see the same
>> color improvements in the Natty Server and Alternate installer
>> screens.
>> Now to address (2), we've made one minor change to the newt library,
>> which defines the color scheme for most curses-based utilities -- most
>> importantly, debconf and in turn, the debian-installer.  If you've
>> ever installed an Ubuntu server, and in staring at the screen thought,
>> "That blue sure looks a lot like MS-DOS circa 1988," we're right there
>> with you.  So we've swapped that aged "Microsoft blue" out for some
>> modern "Ubuntu aubergine"!
>> So what does all of this look like?  Here are some screen shots!
>>  * On the console
>>   * before:
>>   * after:
>>  * And in the installer
>>   * msdos6:
>>   * before:
>>   * after:
>> Spiffy, huh?  Thanks to everyone who help spread some Aubergine-love
>> to Ubuntu Server folks!
> So now every Ubuntu flavor gets Aubergine even though that's not their color
> scheme?

Until now, Ubuntu and all Ubuntu flavors have inherited a color scheme
wasn't theirs either, actually.

> How do we over-ride this for Kubuntu (there have been complaints on #kubuntu-
> devel today)?

I filed and fixed Bug: #730672, on your behalf.

The newt library can now read its palette from a configuration file,
which is installed using update-alternatives.
 +       update-alternatives --install /etc/newt/palette newt-palette
/usr/share/newt/palette.ubuntu 50
 +       update-alternatives --install /etc/newt/palette newt-palette
/usr/share/newt/palette 20

Furthermore, the console-setup package now also installs its color
scheme using update-alternatives as well.
 +    update-alternatives --install /etc/vtrgb vtrgb
/usr/share/console-setup/vtrgb 50

Other packages can install palettes and different color schemes at
different priorities.


Dustin Kirkland
Ubuntu Core Developer

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