An Extreme Make-Over
Along with the new default software and integrated services, Ubuntu 9.10 has undergone a complete makeover. Major updates to the overall look of the OS have been promised since version 8.10, but never materialized. The bootsplash and login screen did change in 9.04, and optional themes were also added to that release. However, the full overhaul we have all been waiting for is just happening now with 9.10.
Installation Slide Show
If you have already installed 9.10, you probably noticed the addition of a slideshow during installation. It highlights some of the features found in Ubuntu, but thankfully it also retains the status bar from earlier versions.
Even though the bootsplash was touched-up for the previous release, Canonical has decided to redo it again for 9.10. Instead of another variation on the usual red, orange, and yellow Ubuntu logo and a progress bar, there are actually two very different splash screens this time around. The first to appear is uber-minimalist, with a simple all-white Ubuntu logo in the middle of the screen. The logo pulses bright to dark and back again in place of the conventional status bar.
The second bootsplash is the opposite of minimalist. A spotlight appears over the Ubuntu logo and name, all in front of a grand curtain bathed in the typical brown color scheme.
The all-new login screen from 9.04 was also short-lived. It has been replaced by a new login screen that Fedora users might find very familiar. It includes a drop-down menu to select the user, whereas you would have to enter it manually in Jaunty.
The options to switch GUI, languages, and keyboard layouts now appear only after first selecting your user. After typing in your password, the second brand-new login splash screen briefly re-appears before the desktop. Of course, you can choose to skip this entire process by selecting Login Automatically during the fifth step of installation, or via System/Administration/Login Screen.
With this version of Ubuntu, users finally have a decent selection of wallpapers to choose from upon installation. It's not a massive change, but other desktop distributions, such as Mandriva, have included little touches like this for years. Along with new wallpapers, the ability to use a slideshow of wallpapers as your Desktop background has also been added.
The orange Human theme that has been a part of Ubuntu since the first LTS Edition (version 6.06 “Dapper Drake”) is no more. But instead of throwing out Human for a new theme, the creators of Ubuntu decided to update Human into a dark theme. Fans of the familiar orange window borders can still use the old Human theme by selecting the Human-Clearlooks theme from the Theme tab in System/Preferences/Appearance.
The default icon theme has changed from the minimalist Human icon set, to the more polished Humanity icon set.
Even many of the icons that remain mostly the same from Human to Humanity have gotten a little coat of gloss.
Along with the rest of the icons, the system tray icons in Ubuntu 9.10 have been completely changed. Gone are the slightly miniature versions of the larger system icons. Karmic has made the move to the minimalist, one-color system tray icons a la Windows 7.