FOSS developers: My right to create a crappy ass icon in my pixel app trumps your right to have an aesthetically consistent experience.

Regular folks: Ooh, look at macOS! 😍

FOSS developers: why no one use our operating system?

@aral Back in the day, you couldn't even ship an icon with a Linux program, or if you did it was buried in /usr/local/share/x11/resources/share/foo/icons/foo.xbm and no way to attach it.

Progress after 25 years: You can ship an icon in a bundle, but the wm still ignores it.

@aral it's hard to overestimate how important design is to the overall experience of using a computer (or anything). I've successfully transitioned several people to Linux in general and free software in particular, but it's typically at a painpoint they're experiencing in the moment, and they're switching out of necessity - 1/2

@aral This typically turns out well because free software is generally pretty great, but they wouldn't use it without the pain point along with some knowledgeable person (me) encouraging them and assuring then it will be fine.

Design bypasses all of that and gets people to be excited about using it before they use it. Really matters! - 2/2

@aral Foss devs and designers: so I work on this in my spare time, after work, when dinner is eaten and the kids are put to bed. Instead of watching a movie hanging out with my partner etc.
I know millions of users use my stuff and the stress and time constraint causes FOSS people like me into higher burnout numbers than others but I still try to appease the users.

Random people: YOU SUCK! Do what I tell you! Lol

@ohyran my app's icon was a 3d rendered piece of art by a talented artist and I got the same complaint from them on bug trackers, so *shrug*

@hergertme see in many ways I am "team unification" here with icons following strict guidelines. That said, we (FOSS people, you GNOME, me KDE) should be seen as a movement and not a project I've always thought. Or rather the movement side can't be ignored.
The health of the movement must always be considered - even letting the health of a project take the back foot for the movement it is the result of at times.
What rubs me the wrong way is how devs/designers are treated

@hergertme [cont] ... by a large set of self-proclaimed users, which is a growing group based on FOSS popularity, while the group of collaborators, contributors and community members shrink or remain the same.
Often demands are baked into backhanded little slights, or outright demands that "the devs" should do X/Y/Z or "I'm leaving" - the Facebook Effect in action I always thought - the assumption that anything given free is in fact a customer/seller relationship and the user is a client.

@hergertme [cont2] ... or as in this case: a joke based on the misguided assumption that the devs/designers are bumbling morons because why else would they not be mac os - and should know their place as servants/salesmen in this fictitious seller/customer relationship instead of what they really are, creators donating time and effort for nothing.

Screw that. The health and wellbeing of one contributor is worth a hundred self-preclaimed "users" or clients, and we should say that as a movement.

@hergertme [Final I promise]

"you GNOME, me KDE" should be the core scene in an erotic novel mixing Tarzan and FOSS development. :)

@ohyran I think the premise that as Foss developers we should have to care about market domination and winning is unhealthy.

@hergertme the issue is the conflict within it. I mean I don't think its unhealthy, some pull it off nicely - but pretending that its somehow a logic we should all be part of is unhealthy AF.

I couldn't care less about marketability personally and I think the projects who can clearly define themselves either way (either through "elitism" or clear collaborative ideals) are the healthiest.

@ohyran @hergertme i don't think that market dominance, or marketability are important, but i am convinced that marketing, in the broadest of senses is essential to our success:

community outreach, and management are extremely important, to… manage the expectations towards projects, and also to streamline bugs / wishes / complaints into something productive and actionable — or at least into something that isn't entirely deflating.

@aral For the record, I don't really care about my icon getting reworked for other desktops.

I welcome it!

Yes I put decent work into it because I had to, but I've got bigger concerns.

Not that I know what I think of their stance.

@aral does macOS force-retheme third party app icons? No! What they do is design a consistent set of icons for their apps, and provide clear guidelines for third-party designers to design their own.

That's exactly what upstream GNOME folks are doing now. Pop!_OS should embrace that.

If you don't like a particular icon in an app that hasn't been updated, nudge the developer to redo the icon with the guidelines in mind. Same as you would if you don't like an icon of a macOS app.

@bugaevc No, but good luck getting an app that doesn’t follow the HIG into their App Store. So I guess that’s the road that GNOME Software will take to ensure consistency?

The default on macOS and iOS is consistency due to the culture/focus of the platforms. The default on Linux is inconsistency (a trait that is often lionised and labeled “choice” instead of criticised).

Given we probably don’t want an authoritarian App Store model, distributions enforcing consistency should be applauded.

@aral not that many apps care about getting into the Mac App Store (as opposed to the iOS App Store); and I don't think icon style inconsistency has a lot to do with choice-as-a-user-feature.

I'd say consistency comes from developers (& designers) *caring* about it, caring about making great native apps that fit in with the platform. And of course from the platform providing enough tools & guidance to make it feasible for the developers/designers.


@aral There are people who are passionate about building a beautiful Linux (in particular, GNOME) desktop experience, me included. There's no need to force these people into following the HIG — they happily do it themselves. It's a matter of *helping* them by providing guidelines and tools. That's what the new GNOME icon guidelines (, including the icon template), and tools like Icon Preview are about.


@bugaevc I think I still prefer the old Tango icons but damn if these aren't sharp as hell

@aral @bugaevc what if Linux distro just care about the system and apps are provided by Flatpak repositories? A repo by GNOME, one by KDE, one by Elementary, one by Ubuntu etc each one with consistent look and feel and integration. If one wants to mix apps he could enable multiple repositories

@aral @bugaevc Theming doesn't scale. Fostering a culture of good design is harder and slower, but it's much more effective in the long run than papering over the cracks at the distro level.

Also, bad apps have bad icons everywhere, even on iOS and macOS.

@tbernard @aral and the fact that popular downstream distros like Ubuntu and Pop!_OS change icons anyway doesn't exactly encourage app devs to ship good icons upstream


Ehy !

Do you want to dictate what people do on their free time ?

How dare you !?!

You should stop blaming FLOSS developers for being so generous to work for free !!

You should be grateful instead and cater to their self aggrandized delusion some more !?1!!

@AbbieNormal @aral what if instead of berating them and tearing down their work, you actually worked with them to get things fixed?
@aral Why I program on Linux, serve on FreeBSD but access them through virtual terminals on a Mac...
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Aral’s Mastodon

The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!