Call for participation: an ubuntu default theme lead by the community?

Normally, “squaring the circle” is a figurative expression for an impossible task. Here, it’s a literal description of the problem.

More people use Ubuntu than all the other “distros” combined. The icons that Ubuntu ships matter far more than any other OS’s icon theme (and far more than the upstream Gnome theme). Inconsistencies aside, you’ve all done a great and valuable job.

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If Ubuntu made more use of folders to organise the app grid, there would be an opportunity to do something slightly new, rather than falling back on the traditional groupings which (IMO) aren’t always helpful.

I suspect there are a small number of “task categories” that users instinctively view as separate. Speaking for me, three of my personal categories are:

  • Doing work and admin chores (office, spreadsheet, “things to do”, etc.);

  • Being creative (even for people who do this for a living, I think graphics and music production software are conceptually different to the above);

  • Watching or listening to entertainment (listen to a song or podcast, watch a video, etc.).

Because these are distinct in my mind, I wouldn’t group (say) an mp3 player like Rhythmbox with my music-making app, just because they’re both “music”. I’m either in a mood to listen to music or make it, and those are completely different moods in terms of how I navigate my desktop. So, organising my own desktop, I’d put Rhythmbox with a video player, a radio streaming app, an e-book reader, etc., in a folder called “Entertainment” or something. I might put my music production software with GIMP and Inkscape in a folder called “Creativity”.

Of course, that’s just me, and that might be confusing/rubbish for the average user :slight_smile: But I wonder where the traditional app groupings came from, and if they were informed by user experience research?

Because the Gnome app grid makes barely any use of folders, introducing some could be a great opportunity to start with a “blank slate”, and either implement the latest research or - if there isn’t any - actually do some, rather than falling back on the old categories from Gnome 2.

For instance: in the year 2018, does anyone still think of “Internet” as a separate category? Is “Office” a helpful folder name, that conjures up a specific category of task, or is it confusing - because it narrowly evokes only Microsoft Office and its clones?

Does the average user think that all the music apps belong together, or do all the “being creative” apps belong together - and so on.

That’s a mildly worrying statement to read. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

This is an evolving process, surely? When Suru ships, if there are issues, or if people don’t like it, if some of the usability issues MPT has flagged up become wider issues, then the potential to revise or revert the decision if in the interest of actual users should be paramount. Personal tastes or pre-emptive plans by the Yaru team on long-term use shouldn’t come in to it.

And while “endless discussion” over a decision your team has taken is perhaps fruitless, explanations and justification for some of those decisions wouldn’t go amiss.

Right now the decision you’ve taken with regards to Suru as default seems wooly. Why is Suru now the default icon set of an operating system used by 22+ million people? This is not, after all, the sort of decision that ought to be taken lightly or based on perceptual anecdotes, vague attributions to even vaguer use-cases, or any other reasons :sweat_smile:

So, for clarity, and as something that would be worth adding to @ads20000’s wiki suggestion, add some detail as to why is Suru the default icon set of Ubuntu 18.10. Because Unity 8 was going to use it? Because user testing shows it’s the better icon set? Because you wanted something new? Like, what’s the design and usability justifications etc? Background goes a long way :+1:

Another point which could do with some clarifying, certainly based on the exchanges above: the new “Yaru team” is now maintaining a semi-soft fork of Suru to fix the issues that upstream/Sam Hewitt doesn’t want to fix/doesn’t think need fixing, correct?

Now to me, as an Ubuntu user, I worry that choosing to default to an icon set that the team say won’t get new icons or tweaks going forward, and is solely reliant on the whims of a lone upstream designer maintaining a set which isn’t his primary concern, is the wrong choice. That goes double in light of the fact that a new upstream icon set (which is being created by long-time and highly respected open source designers, with end users in mind, with lots of input and feedback, including from app stakeholders, and which will stay continually updated and maintained going forward) is soon to be available.

I shan’t be the only one banging that drum going forward, fwiw. :hugs:

Lastly, if this thread is the go-to port for relaying decisions it might be nice to read an update on the issues @mpt flagged up with the icon set a few weeks back. His advice and pointers are, as a design professional and someone who’s worked in open source design for so long, surely of more merit than most peoples.


Apologies, that wasn’t a controversial post that I regretted :laughing: - I accidentally sent it after the first sentence.

I wanted to say that, even in OSes and themes with non-uniform icons, it’s not uncommon for a shape and style to be sustained across a “family” of apps. Examples:

Microsoft Office


Adobe Creative Suite

Obviously LibreOffice is a major player for Linux, and many people who use the default (non-uniform) Gnome icons will still have a subset that are the same shape and style.

I guess the logic behind the use of Suru is to make a “family” of the generic apps that ship with Ubuntu, which are mostly system tools, generic desktop gadgets like the calculator, or “executive toys” like Aisleriot. I don’t think that’s a bad thing?

A lot of commentators are people like me, who moved their existing desktops to Yaru when they already had a lot of third party apps installed. I think the experience will feel more natural to new users, who get a system full of generic “Ubuntu” apps - with a small number of essential branded ones - and then start to individually add the third party ones they want. Then the visual distinction might be more intuitive. But it’s a different situation when you’ve had your laptop so long you don’t really remember which apps were default and which you installed, if you switch to Yaru and see that only some of them have Suru icons.

I agree. There are a significant number of GNOME “generic” apps that don’t have Suru icons yet and should probably get them. For instance, there’s no reason why we couldn’t use a generic icon for GNOME Chess or for many of the other GNOME games.


That’s easy. It’s been decided by Canonical since the beginning of the project.

The last couple of weeks saw a lot of work to patch some undesired situation due to the limited time and effort the official Suru maintainer was able to dedicate to the icon set and to the imminent release of Yaru as default in cosmic.
So basically we forced the situation to provide a better experience in a very short amount of time and with a team even shorter due to some other issues.

Ideally, the rest of the work on the icon set will pass through upstream and then to Yaru.

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Let me at 'em! :slight_smile:

I’m currently engaging upstream with the new icons one at a time. I’m starting with Aisleriot and Mahjongg but can certainly have a pop at any outstanding Gnome games too.


Lastly, if this thread is the go-to port for relaying decisions it might be nice to read an update on the issues @mpt flagged up with the icon set a few weeks back. His advice and pointers are, as a design professional and someone who’s worked in open source design for so long, surely of more merit than most peoples.

I have the highest respect for the work of MPT and we love all the feedback we can get. I consider his feedback the “official” Canonical feedback. But this forum post showed up after UI freeze in the second cycle we’re working on this theme :disappointed: It has started some great and highly relevant discussions, but IMHO wayyyyyyyy too late.

Another point which could do with some clarifying, certainly based on the exchanges above: the new “Yaru team” is now maintaining a semi-soft fork of Suru to fix the issues that upstream/Sam Hewitt doesn’t want to fix/doesn’t think need fixing, correct?

As Sam has announced, he doesn’t have the time to work on this.

We (as in the Yaru team) CANNOT take on the task of developing an entire icon theme (there’s enough for us to work on with GTK3 + the Shell, not to mention GTK2 and soon GTK4).
What we’ve done and the reason that we have a soft-fork, is simply a last resort to push the icons we wanted. We don’t have an icon-designer in our team, but Jaggers has kindly stepped up to the challenge in the eleventh hour and has done a ton of awesome work!
Sams icons are beautiful and IMO the best solution would be if Canonical would take some of the money donated to desktop developmentnt and just hire Sam (again).

As you can see here the initial distribution of tasks no longer apply because noone is really committedly working on the icons. It’s a huge task and apparently not one that can be lifted as a community project (except for Sam and Jaggers putting out fires).


To summarize the situation, we all know this is an evolving process and we won’t get everything perfect in the first shot (even ever, does perfection really exists? :p).
This was also one of the reason to not ship Yaru (at the time, communitheme) by default on a LTS. Most of ubuntu users are LTS users, and shipping it post-LTS gives room to evolve the theme based on feedbacks and so on.

Basically, this isn’t the end of the road, so do not let the whole (and small) development team down please. I think we should rather appreciate and praise what was realized in very few months! I wasn’t expected that we would go so shortly to such a great theme I’m enjoying daily on my laptop. Well done to everyone devoted to this real community effort again!

Of course, as mentioned, it has little issues there and there (which, IMHO have been raised too late in the cycle to fix most of them), but this is basically the first draft of our painting leading to the next LTS!

Speaking of release. Final Freeze is on Thursday. I suggest to @c-lobrano that we cut the finale release (apart if there are stop gap theme releated issues for the ISO) on Wednesday. I’m aiming to package and upload it on that date. Does this sound realistic?


Yes it is :wink:

I’ll start again today to review the current state so I plan to have a look at this issue only
If I can make it for tomorrow at the most, fine, otherwise we can ship current master, I believe.

Does this sound good?


+1 for me! Note that James is working on getting some 3.18 GTK compatible version, but it may be SRUed.


Can we include this one also?

Seems like a minor bug fix to me.

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+1, it’s indeed a minor bug fix to me as well :wink:


This one is very minor as well, to me,

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Answered on the PR, but yeah, basically +1 with the fixes :wink:

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The Yaru team is happy to announce a new stable release, the one that will
be shipped in the upcoming Cosmic Cuttlefish 18.10 release!

This week release brings the following

  • Gnome-software styling improvements in application list
  • dash-to-dock transparency fix (see note below)
  • Shell: removed black line in highlighted submenu
  • Green buttons now have a nicer white outline (normal buttons will still have
    the orange one)
  • Fixed the icon used by System Monitor app

NOTE: The dash-to-dock version shipped with Cosmic handles transparencies in a slightly different way, respect the version in Bionic. The result is that we will have the same transparency between Panel and Dock in Cosmic only, while in Bionic, the dock will be slightly more transparent than the Panel.


I’m interest so much my technical skill mainly on CSS and i can’t wait to join the team.

Thank you in advanced
Shroog Hassan

And the corresponding release has now been published in cosmic!
Hopefully, this is the version that will be in finale 18.10 image.


Nice :smiley:

We forgot to merge this one, but it’s fine - something to look forward to in 19.04 :laughing:


This could be SRUed anyway. Let me merge it right now for snap bionic users.