Ubuntu is not Ready for a Dark Theme

I have been looking at some screenshots and posts on Digg that suggests the next version of Ubuntu may ship with a dark theme enabled by default.  Until programmers learn to theme their desktop applications properly, I don’t think this should to happen.  Many programs are styled with a light theme in mind, and changing to a dark theme reveals several problems that shows these programs weren’t tested very well in a dark theme environment.

Check out this screenshot of my dual-display desktop with a dark theme enabled:

Looks pretty cool…just like all those other screenshots you see, but they are leaving out some common problems that I find when I try it out for real.  Let’s see another screen shot with some other common programs.

This one looks quite worse.  Firefox thinks it needs to theme my text boxes, form buttons, and scroll bars according to my desktop theme, and not according to the site style.  Behind the Firefox browser is the OpenOffice.org Processor.  That opened up with a text area and font color that matches the theme as well, and I don’t think it should.  It’s supposed to mimic a white piece of paper, and it doesn’t in this case.  Moving on to Bluefish (on the left), it is clear that one cannot write code in that environment.  Removing the white background will make your eyes hurt with the syntax highlighting.  Bluefish either needs to make the entire editing area white or have alternate syntax highlighting themes for a dark background.

I have done endless searching and found no solution for Firefox & Bluefish.  OpenOffice does offer the option to manually change the background or use the default background (theme color).  In general, I think that the dark theme is more appealing and easy on the eyes (especially at night), but until programs are made to easilly adapt to different color schemes, this won’t be an option for me.

This entry was posted on Monday, September 8th, 2008 at 6:02 pm and is filed under Linux. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Ubuntu is not Ready for a Dark Theme”

Joey May 10th, 2011 at 3:08 am

For Firefox, have you looked into/tried creating a userContent.css (http://www.mozilla.org/unix/customizing.html#userContent) to re-style the form elements to something sensible?  Enabling Firebug’s Style>Show User Agent CSS menu option I can see that on Windows, Firefox’s built-in CSS is giving <input> elements a background-color of -moz-field, which is a special Firefox CSS color that maps to a corresponding system color.  I think you could override this back to white or something in your own userContent.css

Even if so, I can agree it’s annoying that you would have to.

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