So Pop!_OS 19.04 drops icons for third-party applications and suddenly my experience is an inconsistent mess of crappy icons. They had the right idea earlier. The #1 problem with desktop Linux today isn’t missing features or performance or anything like that, it’s consistency.

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I have no insider knowledge but I have a feeling (from the last two releases), that someone at System76 is overruling their designers who brought out the first version and they should really stop doing that. Or maybe I’m wrong and the consistency and approach of the first release was a fluke (these things rarely are). I wonder if the person leading that left or something. Again, just extrapolating from symptoms. There’s been a loss of consistency in the last two releases (18.10 and 19.04).

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@aral In my experience this is entirely dependent on the icon theme itself -- some have icons for certain 3rd party programs, while others have none at all. I'm guessing the default icon theme changed with 19.04, but it should be easy to change back?

@gigamo Yeah, there is a new “design system” but System76 made a conscious decision to drop custom third-party icons (

@aral some application developers complained that system76 was overriding their app identity by changing the icon. And those are apps with good icons (e.g GNOME apps).

System76 did the right thing and listened to the community instead of biting the hand that feeds them.

@aral At GNOME we're trying something different: instead of replacing app icons, we came up with very simple icon guidelines, and try to encourage 3rd party app authors to follow them.

Hopefully in the long run that helps improve icon consistency without alienating 3rd party developers.

@mathieu If we want to make progress in design in the free/open source world, we have to realise that it’s the needs of the people using our tools, not our vanities as developers that should take precedence.

@aral sure, not disagreeing with that.

But then other platforms don't have uniform icons either and that never has bothered anybody except us nerds with an eye for these things.

Icons need to be differentiable at a quick glance, having them all fit into the same shape and color scheme is detrimental to that. Icon uniformity is really not something that matters all that much IMHO.

@mathieu Try and get a non-compliant icon through to the iOS or macOS app stores. Of course, we don’t have that sort of control (nor should we) but we can try and do the best for the people who use our tools instead of putting our own needs and vanities first. This isn’t about us.

@aral we can try yes.

Overriding the app devs decisions is not the way to do it though. Especially when you make profit from their free labour. It's based on the idea we can't work together. It is conflictual by nature.

We're a community, not competitors. We need to try and work together. The "how" is as important as the result.

Hence what we're trying in GNOME now: establish guidelines anyone can follow, encourage devs to follow them, and in some case even offer to help.


> I have no insider knowledge but […] Again, just extrapolating from symptoms.

IMHO this is one of the biggest problem in the FOSS community: way too many people are quick to go full-on conspiracy theorist as soon as some entity does something they don't like.

It's tiring after all these years… 😒

@mathieu Not a conspiracy theory; just a theory. There’s a difference.

@aral a theory about how someone is overriding the designers behind the scenes, without the shadow of a proof, when merely paying attention is enough to show what actually happened.

That's exactly what a conspiracy theory is.

@mathieu Conspiracy theory: “A conspiracy theory is an explanation of an event or situation that invokes an unwarranted conspiracy, generally one involving an illegal or harmful act carried out by government or other powerful actors.“

Phrases don’t just magically mean what we want them to mean when we’re trying to discredit someone.

@aral yup, that definition perfectly fits what you said:

> someone at System76 is overruling their designers who brought out the first version

@mathieu *sigh* right, it’s a conspiracy theory. I think Godzilla might be involved. Do you think he is? Maybe it’s secret government officials? Or aliens? The deep state? Bill Gates?

@aral @mathieu

Relax guys ...

This may be controversial, but I actually dislike if a desktop overrides an application icon for something I'm using a lot because that mean I won't immediately recognize it on a different desktop.

I used to switch Libreoffice to the oxygen theme until they dropped it because that's what I recognized. And while I love KDE, I hate the new monochrome icons because they all look the same.

This may be a matter of taste but it's absolutely how I work.

@aral There may be actual brand politics items at play here, too. Some third-party applications don't play nice of you start playing around with their appearance or brand symobols.

@K0nrad Great – let them sue a FOSS project. While they’re at it, they can take a full-page ad in the NYT proclaiming “we’re the bad guys”. PR disaster.

Before it got to that, they’d design a version of their logo that they’re happy with and contribute it. If the OS stated that it was a requirement.

@aral I'm not sure I agree with your argument, and that has to do with the way a brand has to defend their legal trademarks in order to keep them existing.

Also, they wouldn't sue a project. They'd have to have a legal entity to sue; in doubt, the developer personally.

The question about contributing is: what's the minimum size of a project to actually invest in?

@aral And some players have actual legal departments …

@aral same thing with @elementary

They refuse to ship icons for third-party apps. Like they expect whole world to eventually comply to their design guidelines

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