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A common Debian style for Debian Installer and the desktop


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.

* 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
- 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)


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

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