Linux software house Canonical has announced changes to the visual theme of it's open source Ubuntu Linux distribution.
After some consultation, Canonical has put forth that the theme of Ubuntu in coming years will be "light". In what reads like old school branding fluff, the theme of light is supposed to represent precision, reliability, collaboration and freedom. The question is which of those isn't represented by having the word "Linux" in your product name?
Light could be a nod towards Linus Torvalds' comments at LinuxCon 09, where he lambasted the kernel by calling it "bloated". That's a pretty damning indictment from the founder of Linux and arguably the most respected Linux software developer of the past two decades. Of course while the Linux kernel has grown to support more hardware, services and policies, it has ballooned in size but the statement was probably equally aimed at the distributions that incorporate the kernel, of which there are many.
Ubuntu has been at the forefront of consumer facing Linux deployment for a few years now. Since 2004 it has managed to garner more column inches than the established enterprise Linux brands Redhat and Suse.
Arguably Ubuntu's biggest coup was getting Dell to preload its Linux distribution on Dell machines, breaking the Microsoft monopoly at the company that was shifting more tin boxes than just about anyone else. It has also managed to stay in touch with hardware developments releasing the popular Netbook Remix, a distribution aimed at the pint sized devices that shot to fame in 2007.
This change in branding may seem pointless to those who already know of Linux's virtues but when businesses come to compare different distributions, Canonical is hoping that Ubuntu's new "light" theme will put it above others. Canonical says that the new theme will be incorporated in the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release. As Linux grows, it seems that the companies pushing it are growing up and becoming more formal.