Warbuntu in the works

Posted on by Chris Warburton

Well, I have had this idea for a while. I want to make an Ubuntu-based live CD of my own. It will basically be a testing ground for crazy new user interface ideas that I have. Since my programming skill is not particularly good it might take a while, but just as a taster here is the kind of thing I want to include (remember, this is purely a research type thing, which is why it is only a live CD and not an installable thing):

GNOME Display Manager (logon screen) and Screensaver:

I wrote quite a significant comment on this in some Ubuntu Wiki pages, but it seems like they are going for crazy 3D-ness (nothing against you Mirco, loads of people have said how cool the Cairo Clock on my desktop is ;-) ). I wanted to test this idea for myself, and Warbuntu would be a great place to do it. Here’s the basic idea; the GNOME logon screen doesn’t really fit in with the desktop when it is in “themed” mode, but the non-themed mode looks ugly. Also, there are far too many ways to switch user, and I think locking a session shouldn’t be appear any different to other system users than if you’ve logged out. So here it is, my quickly done Gazpacho mock-up for the login screen:

Here nobody is logged in (although that shouldn’t make a difference). The GTK theme is just the one I made/use by the way so this should be made customisable with a default theme. The text at the top is the system message (currently the default is usually Welcome to [hostname]), so it can be changed to something more appropriate for large systems, and obviously the face browser can be replaced by a username entry box. The mockup above should be pretty usable for home systems though. Maybe another option would be to change the shutdown button to a “System” button with crazy network logon things and such.

When a user locks their session the screensaver starts like normal, but when asked to unlock it instead of the boring GTK selector currently used the same kind of thing will pop up (maybe using the locked user’s GTK theme, maybe not) and will look something like this:

As you can see it is basically the same. Importantly the user is shown to be logged in, so any “AAA! My work wasn’t saved and it logged out!” scenarios are reduced, maybe an “emblem” type picture could be put on the face browser to indicate this. The notifications in green were just an after thought, but may be useful (and should be easily enabled/disabled for privacy). Also, keep in mind that screensaver hacks can run in the GDM background, so the UI difference there is not too drastic either.

So there you have it, the first mock up I want to make for Warbuntu (please note that the name “Warbutu” is a mix between Warbo (me) and Ubuntu, and has nothing to do with killing people. Also note that Warbuntu is pronounced “WOAHBUNTU!”, as I will probably explain when it gets its first incarnation).

Please leave any thoughts and remember that this is a little experiment of mine, and not directly intended to replace the current system, just to encourage more out-of-the-box thinking (ewww… I just said “out-of-the-box thinking”). Also, if Canonical want to give me their UI job then I would be damn pleased :D http://www.ubuntu.com/employment

Update: I thought I may as well link to some other user interface things I might put in Warbuntu. First there is my Usplash proposal: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Usplash/EdgyPropositions (at the bottom), then there is my idea for an APT “Service Pack” maker, ie. an easy way of installing loads of Debian packages at once (personally I think my idea (scroll down) is easier to implement, easier to use and more powerful than the main one being discussed in that page, and this may be the first one of my mockups to come to fruition). I might add some more if I can remember them :)

Oh, and a big thank you to Steve Jobs for the EMI non-DRM thing. I might pay some people to get me some non-DRM songs from iTunes for me, to show my support (also, I assume they expertly tweak their encoders to get much better quality than I could hope for with Grip since I just press “Go” :-) )

Another Update: I also have the GNOME preferences thing to work on that I comment on here.

Toodle pip.