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Re: A common Debian style for Debian Installer and the desktop

2007/6/12, Frans Pop <elendil@planet.nl>:

Before the release of Etch there were some proposals [1] to change the
theme of the graphical version of Debian Installer to match the theme
developed for the desktop. As D-I release manager, I rejected those
proposals, basically for two reasons:
1) because it was just plain too late in the release process for such
2) because IMNSHO the proposals were just not good enough and certainly
   not an improvement over the current D-I theme

It was certainly not because I don't support the goal of a common style
for Debian. With this mail I hope that there will be a good enough
proposal that can be implemented for Lenny.

I'd like to mention that I actually do know a bit about this stuff as my
father worked as a copywriter in advertising and also did quite a bit of
graphical design and layout work related to that.

So, let me explain why I feel that the designs proposed so far are not
good enough.

Basically my complaint is that the proposals so far have tried to force
the desktop theme on the installer instead of developing a proper theme
for the installer itself. Also, the proposals have focussed too much on
just replacing the banner, and developing a full theme involves a bit
more than that.

Note that I used the term "style" in the title of this mail, and not
"theme". There is a huge difference between the two. A style is the
general concept, while a theme is an implementation of the style for a
particular purpose.
A common style means all themes derived from it contain common elements,
not that all themes are basically the same.

The current desktop theme is fine for the desktops. For the desktop a
theme basically has a background function and should not be too
intrusive. It also has to fit with the style of the desktop itself (i.e.

The installer is totally different: it is a completely separate piece of
software and is also probably the only thing in Debian that is totally
and uniquely "Debian". As such it needs a much stronger identity.

Congratulations to d-i team for this theme.

But, I think the pallet color (used by gtk theme and upper bar image)
is different of used by default desktop, creating a failure on visual
identity of system. :(

* The light blue of the desktop theme really is too weak for the
installer, especially in combination with the grey general background.
The contrast between the blue and grey is just not strong enough and this
makes the whole user interface look weak.
* As the installer is so uniquely Debian, it needs a much stronger tie
with the official Debian logo. That means that it needs to include the
*red* swirl and the *red* "dot" on the i in "Debian" (and in the correct
* A theme for the installer needs to fit the constraints for the
installer. These include low memory usage (avoid too complex graphics,
keep file sizes low and no unnecessary icons), the resolution and color
depth it is run in, and the fact that info text can be displayed in the
banner area (for example in rescue mode).

So, my challenge to you is to design a theme for the installer that allows
it to maintain its strong identity and still allows users to recognize
that it fits in the same style as the desktop theme.
Unless that happens you will continue to find me opposed to changing the
current theme, especially as I've only seen very positive comments in
reviews about D-I's current theme. People very easily identify it with

To get a proposal considered, you will have to present a _complete_
proposal. This includes at the very least:
- a banner
- a background or background color
- a color scheme for gui elements like the progress bar

Can we prepare an other GTK theme, using other gtk2 engine?

- icons
- patches :-)
- a netboot-gtk (gtk-miniiso) image built using all these that d-i people
  can try to evaluate the proposal (this is not as hard as it sounds,
  AFAIK there are plenty of people involved in debian-desktop who have the
  skills needed to build a modified image)

Yeap.. I can help with it...

About the images/icons, the artists of DebianArt can help and we can
create a contest on DebianArt for receive ideas...


[1] http://wiki.debian.org/DebianDesktopArtwork/DebianInstallerEtch

Andre Luiz Rodrigues Ferreira (si0ux) <andrelrf@gmail.com>
Orlandia - SP - Brazil

"Unix is user friendly... It's just selective about who its friends are."

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