Tango, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Desktop

Rodney Dawes dobey at novell.com
Tue Nov 8 08:01:35 PST 2005

So, as things happen to go, Tango seems to be causing quite a bit of
controversy. As such, I am writing this here mail on this fine morning
of November 08, 2005, to help clarify the situation, based on the
threads that I have seen pop up on this list, within the last few days.

Most of you know who I am. Some of you may not. A quote from one of my
favorite movies, very accurately describes my position in the current
state of things.

"I'm the one telling you how it is."

However, as a lot of people on here seem quite tense, and would probably
take offense to that, here's a more drawn out version. I am the
maintainer of the Tango project releases. I also maintain
gnome-icon-theme and various other parts of the GNOME desktop. I am on
the product design team at Novell/Ximian, and have several years of
release engineering, design, and development experience under my belt. I
also have a few years of dealing with end users directly, with their
issues on the Windows platform. And all of those end users were not
professionals in corporate offices, writing word documents and e-mail
all day long. Many of them were on the lower end of the middle class
scale. They played games, listened to music, downloaded random stupid
little desktop toy things randomly off the internet, and spread the use
of silly images, horrible desktop themes, and arbitrary crappy desktop
toys, through e-mail with family and friends. These people are the ones
who really need the free desktop. They are the ones who need simplicity
in their computing. They are the ones who need security.

Several people on this list have exclaimed how they believe Tango is to
conspire against them and their ways of visually identifying themselves
through a few icons on a few pieces of software on their desktop. The
rest of this mail will be in FAQ form to answer some of those questions.
I will also place this FAQ on our web site, so that it may be more
visible, and our FAQ can be more useful.

Q: Tango is just another icon theme. What is so special about it?

A: Tango is not just another icon theme. The project includes an icon
   theme, yes, but the goals go beyond the icon theme itself. The icon
   theme is primarily a way of pushing for acceptance of other aspects
   of the project. There are three parts to the icon side of the
   project. The Icon Naming Specification, the Tango Artwork Style
   Guide, and the Tango Icon Theme. The Icon Naming Specification is to
   improve the ability to use icon themes on the desktop, and to make it
   much easier for artists to create themes that work on all desktops.
   The Tango Artwork Style Guide is meant to be a base set of
   suggestions for all artwork in the Tango project, and a fairly
   neutral set of guidelines for ISVs to target for creating artwork for
   their applications.

Q: Tango is threatening the visual identity of the different desktops.

A: This is not a question. However, Tango does not threaten the visual
   identity of individual Free and Open Source Software desktops or even
   applications. The Tango developers have not proposed that Tango be
   THE one and only theme on any of the GNOME, KDE, or FreeDesktop
   lists. We will not propose Tango as such, unless the conditions are
   proper for doing so.

Q: Tango is an attempt to push Novell and Gnome branding and style
   upstream into the desktops.

A: While Tango is a project coming out of Novell, and currently
   primarily consists of Gnome developers and artists, there is no
   Novell or Gnome branding or style. The style guidelines in Tango
   are meant to be a comprimise and middle of the road to both the
   Gnome and KDE artwork styles. The red and green colors in the
   Tango palette are close to the Novell Red and SUSE green, but are
   not those colors. The green branding on the SUSE Linux web page, is
   in fact even brighter than the green in the Tango palette.

Q: Does Tango have involvement from members outside the core Ximian
   community of developers who started the project?

A: Yes. In fact, one of the core initial developers, Steven Garrity,
   is not, and never was, an employee for Ximian. In fact, he is a
   member of the Mozilla Firefox artwork community, and designed the
   current logo used in Mozilla Firefox. One KDE user has been
   contributing quite a bit to the project as well, to get the theme
   working on KDE 3.5, with the backward compatibility script. Also
   of note, are members of the Emacs community, who have taken an
   interest in using the Tango style for the new Emacs logo and icon.
   Several members of the Ubuntu community have also shown up in our
   IRC channel, and frequently join in the discussions. There are also
   discussions occuring on the Ubuntu wiki, about whether to ship the
   Tango icons as the default in Dapper Drake, the next release. The
   Lila theme developers have also been joining, and are interested
   in porting their theme to the Icon Naming Specification. Also, of
   interest, are the Appeal/Oxygen artists. They have stated that they
   are quite interested in the naming specification, and also the
   addition of standard metaphors to the naming specification. As you
   can see, there are a number of non-Ximian people involved, and the
   community continues to grow.

-- dobey

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