Default artwork – Mint 5

We’ve experimented with Aurora GTK engines and created some futuristic themes. We’ve looked at Carbon and made something a lot of people liked but although a few themes ended up looking great we still haven’t found anything to replace the default artwork. So we’re now taking a different approach which consists of improving the Daryna artwork by making subtle changes to it. Have a look below and please give us as much feedback as possible on this.

This is how widgets (“widget” means graphical element. Buttons, progress bars, combos are widgets for instance) looked like in Daryna:

This is how these same widgets look like after we made some changes:

And these are the changes we made:

To illustrate the differences, here is mintUpdate running with the Daryna look:

And here is how it looks like with the changes:

I’m personally happy about the sliders taken from Clearlooks. That’s definitely an improvement IMHO. I’m not sure whether I prefer the gradients or the original for the tabbed folders. I like the lighter blue and the additional contrast but I’m afraid there’s too much contrast in the newer theme.. I also like the dotted separation between columns in the mintUpdate table. Finally, the highlighting (especially on the buttons) looks like a wave and that’s fine, but now that the contrast shows that more in detail, maybe we can opt for a straight highlight instead. Oh.. and note how widgets are still rounded, but not as much as before.

Please tell us what you think. Not just whether you like it or not, but in detail what you think is better, what you think isn’t, and why and how you would improve it. Don’t hesitate to save these pictures locally so you can quickly look at them and compare them in fullscreen mode.

PS: Other themes will be available as alternative choices, installed by default also.


  1. I particularly like the dotted separators between columns, and the contrast *is* better, imho, I like the sliders from clearlooks. Not sosure about the shading on the tabs, but it isn’t something that worries me overly.

    I am not sure I would change it much more, really.

    If you asked me what you should change in Mint I am not sure I would say that the widgets needed to be more square. I would like a purple version, but hey,it really isn’t that important to me. I really like Mint – the first distro that I am *really* happy with! It is only tinkering with something to make it even more wonderful.

  2. Clem,

    The gradients in new tabs look awkward. Maybe you could make them glossy instead; everything else is glossy. The dotted divider in mintUpdate is okay, though the columns are already well defined due to the darkened package column. With the dividers, centering the Level (graphic) boxes would make more sense. Good work! I switched over to Linux Mint not too long ago.


  3. Like’em all – but the clincher to me is the use of gradients for “card” tabs.
    As is evident from the material in each case there is a tab shape that signifies whether it’s active or not – however the gradient reversal is a superlative way to assist that differentiation – if only to remind us all what an absolute pain the freckle cards have been in the past:-)

  4. Good job, Clem. I look forward to the next release. I prefer the tabs to be in their original format over the gradients, or you could experiment by making them glossy/striped. The dotted dividers in mintUpdate are a good addition but they make the ‘3’ boxes appear off-centered.


    [P.S. I would like to know why my last comment did not make it. I am new to commenting and would like to learn. Kindly e-mail me, and remove this if you decide to post my comment. Thanks.]

  5. Changes are so subtle that I see no reason to make a change other than to say it was changed.

  6. I have to agree with Husse…I see the subtle differences, but it’s so mild that it seems to defeat the point. Maybe you can design a couple different ones and have the community vote on it. Maybe one a bit more drastic than the other. Thanks for your hard work on this!

  7. The only thing I don’t like is the tabs. I prefer the tabs from before. All the other changes seem to be for the better… especially the list box.

  8. Looks good! I definitely prefer the glossy look. Can we look forward to a new Mint green theme?

  9. I believe it’s an improvement in every points. Less round shapes, better balance between squares and circles. Gradients look good too, though I can’t say if I actually PREFER this or not. Sliders look much better. The previous theme was darker, this new one looks more positive, alive… makes me feel happy in comparison. I like the dots too. Good work!

    It’s true the changes are subtle if you just have a fast look, but I have to disagree they are not worth the work.

  10. Hard to see the difference at the first moment… but I think that we come here to the real elegance! So I prefer the new look!

  11. I really like the gradient tabs. The lighter colors make it look more friendly. The dotted lines make it much easier to use.

  12. I think the new tabs with the gradient color looks MUCH better than the old style. To me this is the most important positive (looks much better) change.

    Well the sliders are much better as well I guess but I still like the new gradient tabs most of all the changes.

    In fact the only thing I’m not crazy about are the dotted lines … not sure I like them at this point.

  13. I strongly dislike the use of ‘gloss’ on widgets, especially when text is overlaid. The use of two colors behind the text makes the text harder to read.

    People wear polarizing sunglasses to reduce glare. I use a desk lamp to reduce glare. Why would I want glossy widgets? I don’t.

  14. A whole release apart and THIS is all you can manage? Come on…

    Where’s the innovation???

  15. Hi Clem,

    I like all the changes but think the gradients are out of place; my guess is that if tabs were less “square” on their edges it would be okay. Maybe it is not the gradient but the design of the tab itself, that makes it look out of place.

    My $0.02c worth.


  16. The changes are subtle, but I like all of them. Specifically the best changes are the sliders, and the dotted lines.

  17. Clem,

    I like all of the changes except for the gradients. I especially like the sliders from clearlooks and the glossy column headings. The dotted lines are nice, too. Altogether, though, I have to agree with the opinion that it doesn’t look that much different from the old theme.

  18. I love the gradient tabs. Like the guy above me, I sort of feel like the tabs are shaped a little weird. But, that’s just me being picky. :p Either way, it’s a good step from the last.

  19. I think that it’s a nice evolution of an already very pleasant default theme.

    Though in my opinion, the new ‘selected’ gradient tabs don’t look as good as the originals. (Interestingly I prefer the new ‘unselected’ gradient tabs… have you thought about mixing the old ‘selected’ tab with the new ‘unselected’?)

    The new clearlooks slider handles are a definite improvement over the old ones – hopefully removing the blue ‘current slide amount’ won’t cause any problems, though I’m a little worried about how it will affect usability.

    As a more general aside, I can’t say that I have understood the concept behind having a blue default GTK theme for a black/grey/green wallpapered distribution, like Linux Mint (Gnome) currently is. To my eyes it looks a little inconsistent. I would suggest that if this is the chosen default GTK theme for Elyssa, then a blue wallpaper should be chosen to match it.

    Alternatively, I think this GTK theme would look gorgeous in grey and Linux Mint green (think LemonCarbon: but with a more ‘minty’ green and the nicer widgets you have here.)

    Great work though, they really are some of the best looking widgets I’ve ever seen and I think Elyssa is going to be one good looking distribution.

  20. I really like the Aurora engine and I use it on my Ubuntu machine right now with a dark theme. It seems to me as though dark themes have had a bit of a popularity surge lately and I would really like to see a Mint theme combining like a gunmetal gray and the mint green color using more elements of the Aurora engine. This would be perfect in my opinion.

  21. Hi Clem,

    I really like the new design you’ve created. I particularly like the new tabs and the new widgets (slider controls, etc.) I also like the coloring and shading of the caption bar, buttons, etc. I think that your gradients and curved corners are much more attractive than square corners and flat colors.

    I am not certain about mixing mint green with blue; although I understand that the mint green color is a very important part of your trademark. I wonder how a theme with mint green mixed with your new (and beautiful) carbon theme would look?

    All-in-all, I like your design and I like and appreciate your work.


  22. I think the gradients looks good but the button text needs to be white against blue, or light blue for that matter, background (e.g. mintUpdate with Daryna look) for ease of reading. Tab gradients with black text is fine since the entire tab is not colored.

    I have no opinion regarding squared vs. rounded on the widgets. That change is so subtle and the impact so insignificant that to me, it’s a half dozen one way and six the other.

    One change that I believe would have a beneficial visual impact is to invert the middle set of tabs at the bottom of The Widget Factory window. This would clearly differentiate the tabs from the left frame and provide an even border across the bottom of the tab frames. Currently it looks and feels awkward to me. You might even consider different colors for each frame which would give the whole window a little more pizazz.

    I like the proposed changes to the mintUpdate window but don’t feel that the dotted separations between the columns is necessary or adds anything of value due to the contrast already present there. Actually, the dotted separations add unnecessary clutter to an already nice appearance.

    I am assuming (and hoping) that color schemes (themes) will be can be customized too. I am a relatively new user and actually haven’t seen or used these windows much. I still have a lot to learn about Mint and its features and functions. Its such a great product that it compels me to want to learn more. By the way, I’m 61 years of age.

    My compliments and kudos to everyone who has hand a hand in the development and support of the Linux Mint distro. I have nothing but good things to say about it. I have been using it for about 2 1/2 months now. And I’m glad to see that it is still a work in progress. Keep up the great work!!!

  23. I agree with Jernau I too think the blue is out of place. I like the theme in the link that is in his post. But I would change the green to the Mint green. That I’ve grown to love.

  24. I prefer the gradients for the tabbed folders and I liked the sliders from clearlooks. It`s a nice idea to use some components from other themes.

    Nice work!

  25. I like the theme, would really enjoy if it included a Mint Green variant. I’m really sick of blue. Every thing computer relate seems blue; cliche’.

  26. Well i like the more round fonts or graphics, the other one is a bit square-like for my taste, and the color y clearer and brighter.

  27. Do these changes make a difference in the way Mint works, or just in the way it looks? That is the reason Vista is such a resource hog,too much glitz. Do rotating work spaces really add to the function of an OS? Does it really matter if the displays are light blue, power blue or azure? I know, I know, most people need glitzy features to know something has changed between v.4 and v.5. The programmers and coders need to concentrate on making the binaries tighter and more secure, not changing colors which changes the coding. And changed coding is vulnerable. Maybe I’ll feel differently if I had a computer with more than a PII and 313 of RAM. As it is, I want basic functions. Remember, Linux is pushed as a way to keep dinosaurs alive. Life is nice here in Jurassic Park.

  28. Well, I’d love a purple variant, but beggars can’t be choosers and I’d be more than happy if you reintroduced the green style. Personally, I feel the old sliders were better, and glossy tabs would rock, but apart from that it’s a great improvement and I wish you luck for the next release.

  29. I don’t like the dotted lines, with the darkened Package field and the alternating light/shaded lines, there is no need for the dotted lines. I like the contrast on the tabs and the new sliders.

    I love Mint and am looking forward to trying 5. Good Job and thanks.

  30. I’d like to thank everybody for giving us feedback. I’ve decided on the following thanks your comments:

    – Elyssa will come with a selection of very different looking theme (some themes using aurora, the previously discussed carbon theme (, themes from precedent releases and the default theme discussed here).

    – The theme selected by default is more or less the one you can see in this blog post, with a few modifications thanks to your feedback.

    – The tab gradients won’t be changed and we’ll revert back to the ones from Daryna.

    – The lighter color and increased contrasts won’t be used. We’ll use the exact same as in Daryna.

    – The new Clearlooks sliders will be used.

    – The new glossy column headers will be used.

    – The new dotted lines between table columns will be used (centering the level picture in mintUpdate will be considered as a mintUpdate specific improvement).

    – The roundiness level will be reduced from 7 to 5 (as seen on this screenshot) so the widgets will be a bit more squary.

    – And now, here’s the little detail a lot of people asked for… the default color will still be blue (the exact same as in Daryna), but it will be configurable (you’ll be able to choose the color tab and change the main color of the theme, to make it purple, or red or green or whatever you want) 🙂

    I know the changes we discussed here were not always obvious and a few people pointed out we’d better use our time with fixing more important things. We’ll do that too and although I agree with the fact that this is not very important, it’s something we decided to have a look at and it’s something we’ve tried to improve. Attention to detail is indeed important. Most people won’t notice the difference in the artwork between Elyssa and Daryna, the end result looks pretty similar. But I’m glad we looked into it and improved it the best we could.

    Thanks again everyone.

  31. Clem I was going to give my feedback but it seems you have already decided to implement the exact same changes I was going to suggest.

    Now can we have a vote on the default wallpaper?

  32. Pretty much what everybody said previously. The tabs aren’t so nice and the changes are very subtle. I do like that you increase more contrast in the glossyness of the buttons.

  33. I think both look very good. I don’t favor greater contrast however. It tends to emphasize detail that’s doesn’t help the brain navigate window content and comes across as just more visual “noise” that must be filtered out.

    Finding the optimum balance between useful information and beauty is an art. Mint 4 is comes close and a goal for 5 should be making everything even easier on the brain – easier to comprehend at a glance.

    This said, no change is really needed. Mint’s UI is already one of the best I’ve seen.

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