Default theme (panel)

Mișu Moldovan dumol at
Wed Nov 30 12:00:07 CET 2011

On Tue, Nov 29, 2011 at 10:16, Andrzej <ndrwrdck at> wrote:
> One minor suggestion for the next release's default theme.
> I think the panel should look distinctly different from the rest of Gtk
> applications. It's not just for "better looking" - having a panel that looks
> like other applications is quite confusing, especially when the application
> windows are maximized. [snip]

There is a saying: the road to hell is paved with good intentions... I
remember a time when almost every X application looked different. We
all wanted a consistent Linux desktop and thus KDE and GNOME were born. Xfce
also benefits from this by using the GTK+ toolkit. Moreso, QT apps now
look almost native in GNOME and Xfce and viceversa, GTK+ apps may
look almost native in KDE.

Now some people think it's better to differentiate... Look at Firefox,
version 4 or greater. You can't make the navigation toolbar and the
tabs look native in Linux, they have a special Firefox'y look. This is
especially true if you use a theme that does things differently, eg.
dark colors. It is confusing to have to deal with a different layout
in Firefox when all other GTK+ apps look the same.

I understand that XUL tries to emulate the GTK+ look, but the
developers are not true in their intentions. The navigation toolbar in
Firefox 3.x looked native, but the developers ditched that. The
toolbars in Chromium and LibreOffice look native too, and they also
emulate the GTK+ look. I'm sure Firefox developers are well intended,
however, the end result is deplorable for some users. This is one of
the main reasons I now use the Midori browser, it doesn't pretend to
be smarter than me and it follows my GTK+ theme.

If you need the Xfce panel to look different than other GTK+ apps,
please kindly do that for yourself, it is possible! GTK+ theming is quite
flexible, you may customize the look per application and reach the
Nirvana of application skinning. However, from a usability point of
view, it's better to aim for consistency in a default setting.

I know LXDE does that for its default panel, it was one of the first
things I disabled when giving LXDE a try. They also closely emulate
the Windows look and I won't deny this has certain advantages for
people with prior experience in using Windows 9x or newer. However,
think of the reasons Apple will never do such a thing, even though
they are very focused on migrating users from Windows to OS X. Maybe
it's because it is better to win on your own merits rather than chase
a running target and look like a me-too clone?

Less is more,


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