You can hide those sunglasses because Ubuntu 19.10 won’t ship with a ‘bright new look‘ after all — at least, not by default.

Ubuntu devs have reversed their impromptu decision to swap Ubuntu’s distinctively dark “Yaru” theme for a lighter one more closely attuned to the GNOME Adwaita GTK theme.

But though Ubuntu devs have decided not to make the “new” Yaru light theme — aka “are you sure that isn’t just Adwaita?” — the default in 19.10 the theme will still be included as an option (but you’ll need to install the GNOME Tweaks app to access it).

If the goal is to make a theme as close to Adwaita as possible, why not just ship Adwaita? 💁🏻‍♂️

Personally speaking I wasn’t thrilled by the “Yaru light theme” change for a couple of reasons, but the life-sucking effect it has on Ubuntu’s identity and branding was most pressing.

That’s not to say Ubuntu can’t look distinctive or unique with a light theme (indeed, with some proper design input I’m sure it could look awesome) it’s just that the decision to make this switch this cycle in this manner came out of nowhere, and for no real good reason it seems.

Indeed, the danger in making major design decisions for a desktop operating system used by millions of people around the world late in the development cycle and based (seemingly) on personal feeling rather than hard user data is that such changes are rarely well thought out or rarely well received.

Now it might be just me, but Ubuntu’s entire design direction post-Unity feels off kilter a bit. It’s torn between revering what was (the look of the Yaru GTK and icon theme is inspired by the failed Unity 8 desktop) whilst trying to create something new.

Right now Ubuntu’s community-based design team seem focused on creating a theme that’s as close to Adwaita as possible because… Well, because.

So by all means go ahead and stitch the Yaru GTK theme to the seams of another — but I ask: why bother making a tribute theme when you could just ship the real thing? 💁🏻‍♂️

Perhaps Make Adwaita Default?

Adwaita, unlike the Yaru theme, seems to developed by designers, undergoes usability testing, revision, feedback, and so on (I presume). It hasn’t always been perfect (padding, yo) but over the past few years it’s matured into a well balanced theme.

So maybe it should be default?

But if Ubuntu starts going down that road, where does it stop?

Replace the Yaru icon theme with the (arguably superior) ‘new’ GNOME icon theme because that’s what app makers build to? What about the upstream GNOME Shell theme? And the default GNOME wallpaper too? And if we’re going as to be as vanilla as possible, let’s just disable the Ubuntu dock “because upstream” as well.

It’s a discussion that some feel needs to be had.

But back to this specific change.

We ran a poll to see if the theme change met with your approval and the majority verdict (44.19%) preferred the existing “mixed” theme with dark header bars.

The good news for the 30%+ who actually preferred the Yaru light theme is that, as mentioned, it will be available out of the box in 19.10, ready to use. You will just need to run a command or use GNOME Tweaks to enable it.

But I won’t lie: the even better news to me is that it won’t be default at all. It’s not the worse theme in the world, but dark window borders have been part of Ubuntu since forever. And I’m not ready to give them up yet.

Editorial News Ubuntu 19.10 yaru