It’s always cool to see things like this iterate in public.
Fedora logo redesign update | Máirín Duffy
It’s always cool to see things like this iterate in public.
Fedora logo redesign update | Máirín Duffy
You probably remember Elio from last week’s interview. Now that we know his design philosophy, we get to see the tools he uses to implement it! Interestingly, he cites Thunderbird as his most important piece of software. Like me, he loves it. Anyone who does a lot of email work loves Thunderbird. It’s fast and very easy to personalize. Elio also asked me to make sure everyone understands how important the Open Source Design group is to his work as an open source designer.
I’m Elio Qoshi, a designer, author, and free software/open source activist based in Tirana, Albania. I write tech articles for SitePoint.com and design brand identities for a living, while still pursuing my university studies in Multimedia Design.
However, I spend most of my free time contributing to free & open source projects, most notably Mozilla, Fedora, LibreOffice, Wikipedia, GalliumOS, Glucosio and many more which would take too long to list here. I have been part of Open Labs, the local hackerspace in Tirana, since early 2013. It serves as a meeting point for all FLOSS enthusiasts around here.
As part of Open Labs I have been a co-organizer of the annual Open Source Conference Albania (OSCAL) since 2014. As part of opensourcedesign.net, I recently launched my own startup, Ura, which aims to help open source projects with design.
Why do you use Linux?
I joined the free software community in Albania right after Aaron Swartz’s death and before the Snowden revelations, so I was “lucky” to have been in the middle of a mindset shift in terms of the importance of free knowledge, privacy and control in our lives. As the Free Software Foundation Europe says so well, there cannot be a Free Society without Free Software. There is not a single reason why any public institution should use proprietary software. Coming to this conclusion, I wanted to avoid being a hypocrite, so I finally switched to Fedora.
I also aim to show, by example, that good designers can use Linux too. However, as an avid gamer and a graphic design professional, it’s really really hard to give up on Windows. The switching process is very slow, but it’s effective if you see it like a workout; you just need to do little tweaks incrementally, instead of a complete overhaul overnight.
What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?
I use Fedora 23. As a Fedora Ambassador I could hardly use anything else!
What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?
I use GNOME 3 as my desktop environment. Fedora is tailored to GNOME, so using any other desktop environment with Fedora doesn’t deliver the same experience. Fedora Spins offers alternative desktop environments, such as KDE, but the majority of Fedora users stick with GNOME. Beyond that, I really like the simplicity of GNOME and how it breaks out of traditional desktop user experience assumptions to bend the rules, so to speak.
What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so
Definitely Thunderbird. I am slowly moving away from Gmail and use my custom email addresses via IMAP on Thunderbird (and K9-Mail on my Android). It syncs really well and has great integration with ownCloud Calendar and Contacts (I was so relieved to switch from Google Calendar to ownCloud Calendar via CalDav). I really despise how people turned away from desktop email clients because web clients seem to be more comfortable. I find it more productive having all my email in one place, so Thunderbird is the way to go for me.
What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?
I own an HP EliteBook 8470w Workstation with an Intel Core i7 (3rd Gen) 3610QM/2.3 GHz Quad Core processor, 8GBRAM, 500GB HDD and AMD FirePro M2000 – 1 GB GDDR5 SDRAM graphics. You can find the specs here.
Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?
Interview conducted May 31, 2016
Elio Qoshi is the person behind Ura, a fascinating design studio dedicated to improving design in free and open source projects. As part of that mission, Ura works with projects of all budgets. When we talk about open source, we’re usually talking code first and then—maybe—documentation second. Design is often an after-thought. But as designers like Elio get involved in open source culture, that order could eventually change.
Many FLOSS projects aim to solve a specific problem and focus solely on that problem. Unfortunately this means that the solution might not be accessible, usable, or visually appealing, because all efforts have been focused on making the software work. On top of this, designers aren’t used to work process like programmers are. Open source doesn’t interest us designers as much as it might a programmer, because we usually work alone. Designing in the open is also a bit
more complicated than programming. For example, there is still no established git equivalent for visual design.
People expect GIMP and Inkscape to magically improve one day. This is the wrong approach. I have used GIMP and Inkscape for quite a lot of my design tasks and once you get the hang out of it, it’s a full-fledged Adobe alternative. Instead of paying your Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, you could make a small donation to these FLOSS projects and watch how fast they would improve. I also am really amazed how many designers miss the opportunity to get involved in open source. The entry-level barrier is low, like nowhere else, and your work could easily be seen all around the world, with the financial aspect following soon rather quickly. I believe that people need to get out of their comfort zone first, which is an important step. After all, no one ditched their Macs and iPhones one day and went fully GNU/Linux the next. It needs a stream of constant little changes, just like going to the gym.
I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for. When I started Ura I expected some people to abuse it by requesting free designs, but these cases were always justified, as these projects were not able to pay any coder, let alone designer, because they were usually hobby projects. Most people who approach us at Ura are limited with their budget; it’s not that they don’t see the value in investing in good design. So far I have had more requests with quite reasonable budgets than design requests for free, which gives me hope that open source communities have great empathy.
Furthermore, I encourage people who ask for free designs to pledge via our Patreon campaign, which allows Ura to help open source projects without a budget. The more people pledge on Patreon, the more we can help projects which lack the budget for design.
I recently started working as a brand designer for Tor and the classic problem I see time and time again are branding guidelines not being respected. You can see it anywhere, from Firefox using an old logo somewhere, to the various versions of the Tor logo. Projects like Red Hat or O’Reilly are really able to avoid this problem, but then again, they are usually not community-focused and have VERY strict branding guidelines which would not work in more casual open source projects. Things like this could be solved by educating community members on how to use the assets correctly. Eventually it will stick and we designers won’t need to do design policing anymore (which we should’t do anyway…).
Definitely flat design. While it can get repetitive or boring if done mechanically and by-the-book, it can rarely go wrong. It’s a safer bet than playing around with shadows, gradients and skeuomorphic objects.
Definitely Red Hat. It’s clean, simple, unique and leaves very little space to break the branding guidelines. It’s also very flexible as a branding, with various colors and use-cases. They are quite good at “owning” the red and black combo. Their branding translates well into other mediums, too: you can see people with actual red fedoras walking around. It makes you kind of jealous when all other projects have is a branded t-shirt. It’s a great way to differentiate yourself from other projects.
Tux is one of the works I am to afraid to touch. It embodies a lot of history and background for the whole Linux community, which I believe is quite a lot of weight for a designer to carry on his shoulders. I believe that the penguin as a mascot is a total success for Linux. Linux owns the penguin world and that is an achievement on its own. There are some simplified versions of Tux, which are quite more modern and I find those fitting for today as well.
I would personally do a completely different take on Tux if I did the logo today, but as I said, the sheer weight of brand history Tux comes with should not be treated lightly. It’s like redesigning the floppy disk “save” icon. It’s really outdated, but would you have the courage to redesign it?
I’m not a big font guy, but I was curious about the new Ubuntu font, so I downloaded it.
It’s a little cartoony for me across my desktop, but it looks nice in small dosages. I’m back using the default Sans font, though.
I like that Ubuntu is trying to give itself a unique look, though. And I really like how this process works in the Linux world.
First, you have Ubuntu trying to create a unique look, and perhaps even a brand, within its various distros.
Many people stick with the default look, thus maintaining the brand, but I imagine quite a few users want to customize their computing experience, so they keep what they like and dump what they don’t.
Consequently, because Ubuntu gives people more design options, it allows for even more differences in the look of someone’s setup.
The new Ubuntu font is another variable that allows users to make their computer look even more similar to Ubuntu, but also even more different.
I don’t think it’s a failing of Ubuntu. I think Canonical tries to deliver a user experience, but leaves it up the user to decide if it’s the experience they want. I certainly appreciate it in Xubuntu, which is a little peppier looking than most other straight-up Xfce distros.
One of the things I love about Linux is that it’s all about options and possibilities. Your computer works for you and you have as much or as little control as you want. I’m not a huge fan of the Ubuntu font but I appreciate having the option to play with it a little bit.
Other operating systems work very hard to give every user the same exact experience. It’s nice to work with an OS that knows I’m best equipped to decide what my experience should look like. It’s just so civilized…