Development is a perpetual, constantly changing and iterative landscape upon which changes can evaporate as fast as they made form.

Case in point this week? A shocking design u-turn — said in jest, lest you panic — by GNOME designers, who’ve reverted back to brown folder icons in the promising new flat icon set it plans to debut in GNOME 3.32.

Yes, the spiffy blue folders that, to my eyes at least, were a kindly-on-the-eye improvement over the beige directories that went before, are gone.

It’s like they were never there…

…But mostly because they weren’t.

GNOME 3.32 isn’t due to land until mid-March, and the grand icon redesign itself has only been underway for around 6 months. It’s development: things can change and, going forward, will continue to change on a daily basis.

Bringing back the brown

GNOME design team member Jakub Steiner’s commit to the Adwaita icon set on Gitlab switches the full roster of pale blue folders for common free desktop directories back to light brown.

No reason is (yet) given for the revision, though a related commit to Adwaita’s CSS references a “match HIG”. As with most design-related matters, there’s probably a very well-reasoned reasonable reason behind it.

Conspiracy theorist however have suggested the removal is part of a broader movement against the color blue, stemming from the “Night Light advocate lobby”¹.


Now, GNOME isn’t alone in shipping ‘neutral’ coloured folder icons. The release of elementary OS 5.0 late last year debuted ‘manila’ folder icons (again replacing blue ones) throughout the system.

The idea is that a more neutral colour provides less distraction for the eye, allowing more thoughtful use of colour elsewhere in the system UI/UX.

But don’t tell the designers of Suru that though, aye? I like the funky orange…

¹Fake news
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