jmak jozmak at
Sun Aug 3 02:28:32 UTC 2008

On Sat, Aug 2, 2008 at 5:33 PM, Jari Rahkonen <jari.rahkonen at> wrote:
> jmak kirjoitti:
>> On Sat, Aug 2, 2008 at 3:01 PM, Vincent <mailinglists at> wrote:
>>> On Wed, Jul 23, 2008 at 7:38 PM, jmak <jozmak at> wrote:
>>>> Hello all,
>>>> Please read this article.
>>>>  I have been advocating something similar since day one, but always
>>>> ignored. We need to pay more attention to xubuntu's aesthetics.
>>> The gist of that article as I see it is that not too many people should be
>>> working on Ubuntu's artwok - and those who do, should be good at it. What
>>> kind of reply do you expect here?
>> Vincent,
>> I posted this link to draw attention to the visual features that
>> should be given more priority in xubuntu.
>> One component doesn't make the desktop "pretty" (like many people
>> mistakenly believe, for instance wallpaper) but all the components
>> (usplash, gdm, theme, icons, panel, fonts) together. Like in the
>> symphony, every instruments have to work, in accord with each other
>> Yes, after so many years, they start realizing that the programmers
>> paradigm doesn't work in art (that everyone does a bit and at the end
>> put all the bits and pieces together). This method produces a horrible
>> patchwork.
>> jmak
> I don't think this is anything new or that no-one has realised this
> before. The fact of the matter is that there simply aren't enough
> talented volunteer artists around with the required expertise,
> motivation and time to work on our beloved open source projects and distros.

Hi Jari,

Good that you replied because I felt all along that my message didn't
go through due to my saying things too politely. So it is time to say
them a bit more bluntly so that the message is understood

Your take on the issue is off here. It is true that not many serious
designers around but this is not due to the fact that there is not
enough interested designers; I myself met with many on the art mailing
list; but when they figure the way Ubuntu people handle visual matters
they quickly depart. The fact of the matter is that the sorry state of
Ubuntu is due to the fact that incompetent, visually illiterate people
decide on aesthetic matters. Imagine, you are a programmer, and
someone who thinks that  C++ an exotic sandwich from the Caribbeans
gives you instructions of coding. Something has been happening at
Ubuntu. I spent more less two decades working on various design field
but if I have ever come up with such a visual hodgepodge like the
Ubuntu interface, I would have fired at the second day. This is the
said truth about Ubuntu; these are conditions that actually
discouraging artist to joining to the bandwagon.
But there are more to this. In general, Ubuntu people do not
understand one thing. Collaboration in art and design DOESN"T WORK; at
least not in the way it does in coding. A portrait cannot be drawn by
many artists even if these artists are geniuses. Why? Because each has
its inherent style that manifests regardless of the intentions.
Drawing a collaborative portrait would end up in a Frankenstein. The
same is true of design. Drawing on my experiences, I can say this. So
far, I haven't heard better collaboration method than the studio
paradigm. In this context, the customer and the art director hammer
out all the niceties of the design and when it does go down to
production all the details are already decided upon; after that
graphic artists simply follow the guidelines and work out the details.
 This way the unity and the coherence of the design can be maintained,
of course its quality depends on the original idea and the its
execution. A unified and coherent design, even if not as brilliant in
its details, is better then a patchwork with superior items.

> So as I see it, it's all a matter of resources, or more specifically the
> lack of them. Not that it's a wonder that open source projects attract
> more coders and users than let's say graphical artists or sound
> designers. This is evidenced by the fact that to my knowledge you are
> and have been the only active artist in the Xubuntu team for quite a
> while. It's certainly not because artists are actively discouraged from
> joining the team.

Jari, this is not the matter of lack of resources but the proper
understanding of the issues involved. But now, lets talk about
xubuntu. Xubuntu development suffers from the exact same shortcomings
as Ubuntu does. Decisions are made by those who have no understanding
about design issues. You are here long enough and probably remember
that I have been advocating changes in xubuntu since almost day one.
And what happened? up until now almost all of my recommendations have
been ignored. I suggested, replacing the icon theme, cleaning up the
icons, improving the icons on the panel, changing  the gtk theme,
theming the panel and so on and guess what, all of them ignored. Plain
and simple without even giving indication why. This is what
frustrating and not the lack of resources.

> I understand that this can make you frustrated, and that you feel the
> need to draw attention to the matter, but I can't see how this helps in
> any way. You have pointed out problems and vague sketches of an optimal
> situation, but no way to get there from here. Solutions and the
> resources to implement them are what Xubuntu needs, not stating the obvious.
> I (and I'm sure I'm not the only one) would love to help you realise
> your vision to it's full extent, if only I had the time and the talent.
> Unless you can find someone who does, I have to say that this discussion
> is a bit pointless. But please do not let your frustration stop you from
> working on Xubuntu, as I'm sure the recent attention garnered by open
> source graphical tools like Inkscape and the Gimp will eventually bring
> more artistic talent to communities like this. There is certainly hope
> of a brighter future on this front.

If the items, I listed above could be implemented that would be a big
step toward solution. When I asked help, a few days ago, about
usplash, it was not about creating graphics but about helping figuring
out the code that perhaps could be modified in order to fix the
progress bar issue.

Again, this is not the lack of resources but the lack of vision and
understanding that retards visual development. Look at dreamlinux, I
far as I know, one developer and a graphic artist have been working on
it; and in terms of visuals, it is one of the more professionally
designed Linux distro. It worth to download it just to take a look at
it. Every little details from the progress bar to the panel, the gtk
theme, icons are  fine-tuned to achieve that kind of unified desktop I
am talking about in relation to xubuntu. Maybe you don't like it
because you have a different taste, but here we don't talk about
personal preferences like children but about the particularities of a
well designed desktop.

Let's hope that putting things a bit more bluntly, the issue I am
talking about has become a bit clearer for everybody.


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