Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'inspiration'

Katie Taylor

Since Ubuntu touch was announced, its been fantastic to see the variety of apps you’ve been developing, from shopping lists to word games, to apps that aid your daily commute.

As the Ubuntu Touch platform gets bigger and better, myself and the design team have been receiving more requests for feedback on designs, as well as questions about the App Design Guides and general app design. And although we are available for conversations on irc and in the email lists, what’s been missing is a place to have a more in-depth and visual conversation about app design.

Starting this Wednesday the design team will host a weekly app design clinic on Ubuntu On Air. The clinic is a chance for you to get feedback on your app’s UI, and a forum for you to ask questions about interactions, the Ubuntu brand and guidelines, visual styles, typography, colour… anything design that you want to ask.

If you would like feedback on a particular design, send a screenshot or mockup of your design to before 1pm UTC on Tuesday.

The first clinic will be this Wednesday 11th September at 1pm UTC at . Join us (or watch later) to find out more.

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Paul Sladen

In the year 2000 IBM showed off the WatchPad, a computer on your wrist, but one perhaps ahead of its time and still needing a little bit of design-love. Of course, we love highlighting beautiful design when it does finally come along, and in the last few days the beautiful Pebble smartwatch has appeared over the horizon.

As well as being “just a watch” with a long-lasting e-paper display it has a Bluetooth wireless connection, opening up all sorts of possibilities for expansion; particularly showing notifications, SMS messages, or status and calendar updates without having to check a mobile phone directly. Once it’s on your wrist the possibilites are there for all sorts of apps (not just fancy clocks!).

In under one week they’ve raised $5 million in pre-orders from 35,000 individuals—taking the Kickstarter record for the largest amount raised through crowd-funding. A finished product does not just happen by itself, it requires lots of expertise; industrial design for the water-tight casing, ergonomics to make sure it fits on your wrist, electronics layout design for the battery, buttons and e-ink screen …and some firmware (embedded computer software) to make it all work.

Andrew Witte (second from the left in the dream team) is the Lead Engineer working on the firmware and an Ubuntu fan. Andrew’s desk on a typical day has a sprawl of cables, a Lego car, some low-level JTAG programmers, USB prototyping cables, several half-finished Pebble boards …and, in the middle is Xubuntu (Ubuntu running with an XFCE desktop) for the development and debugging.

Lots of open source is also being used to make the watch tick. The firmware development toolchain is CodeSourcery GCC for compiling, OpenOCD for working with the JTAG, and GDB (the GNU debugger) for finding all hard to solve bugs. One of the main parts of the Pebble is the Bluetooth interface for talking to smart phones, for which many hours have been spent testing with Ben Lam’s Python-based ‘LightBlue’ framework and utilities like hcitool. If that’s all getting a bit technical, Andrew notes that The Gimp and ImageMagick (both in the Ubuntu Software Centre) are used for processing the bitmaps and pictures before they are sent to the Pebble watch prototypes.

The race is on for the first person who can get a prototype in August 2012 and integrate Ubuntu’s libnotify-osd work with the Pebble watch, in time for Ubuntu 12.10 in six months time! For those with a pre-order, it will be possible to vote on additional-colour in addition to Artic White, Cherry Red and Jet Black. We’re hoping that Ubuntu Orange wins!

The Pebble Kickstarter campaign runs until 18 May 2012. To vote later for a colour (such as Ubuntu Orange!) you need to pre-order in the colour-Pebble category ($125+shipping).

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Paul Sladen

Some of original sketches for Ubuntu Arabic are about to go on display in Berlin! We’ve talked before about the work done by Rayan Abdullah on drawing and designing the original calligraphy behind the Ubuntu Arabic for the Ubuntu Font Family and from tomorrow you will be able to see that work for yourself.

Until 27 May 2012 you can see some of those original sketches and designs featuring in the Typobau exhbition at the Körnerpark Gallery in Neukölln, Berlin,

It includes many of Rayan’s design projects from the last decade, including the Bundesadler (the Federal Eagle of Germany) and his many Arabic graphic design and typography projects including the logos and typefaces for Burberry, McDonalds, Nokia Pure Arabic and the Ubuntu Font Family Arabic script coverage.

For keen visitors, the grand opening is this week, at 19:00 on Friday 20 April 2012. Or for anyone visiting Messe Berlin in May 2012 for Linuxtag 2012 you will still be able to catch the exhibition. Just take the S-Bahn ring anti-clockwise to S-Neukölln and see Ubuntu and Rayan’s exhibition at the same time as Linuxtag!

The “Typobau” exhibition runs between 21 April 2012 and 27 May 2012, 10:00–20:00, Tuesday—Sunday, at Körnerpark Galerie, Schierker Strasse 8, Berlin-Neukölln

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Christian Giordano

La Cabine Téléphonique Aquarium

Because inspiration can come in many ways… I thought you might enjoy this peculiar installation. The fact that it is situated in a public place, and still attracts people after 5 years, makes it worth while.

Some pictures.

Some videos.

Details about the installation.


(via Chris O’Shea)

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Christian Giordano

Meeting Prezi

While we were sprinting in Budapest, we had the opportunity to meet the team responsible for such an interesting and inspiring product. We have in fact been lucky enough, thanks to some interesting connections, to be invited at Prezi’s! Of course this only after a hard day of work! ;)

Prezi is a presentation tool which will make your PowerPoint presentations look embarrassing.
The back-end of Prezi is unsurprisingly powered by Ubuntu but, regardless of what it is under the hood, Prezi deserves the spotlight in its own right.

We visited their offices with a delegation of designers and cloud engineers, not only to discuss our products, but also to exchange stories and ideas. We were welcomed very warmly with beers and pizzas in their office, which is, especially architecturally speaking, very inspiring (lots of indoor green).

Prezi is a web application and uses a zoom and pan metaphor to move from a slide to another, it basically produces a ZUI (Zoomable User Interface). This not only allows you to be more creative but gives your slides more “context”, making them part of a bigger picture.
While Prezi is not an open-source project as we know it, and still requires Flash Player, it encourages the sharing of your prezis source.
Some of the functionalities, e.g. the typography, can seem quite limiting but overall the editing is very straight forward and the result can be very, very, effective!

For the purpose of the meeting I quickly put together a prezi and shamefully showed it to the real experts!

This presentation is targeted at people who never heard about Ubuntu, taking advantage of our beautiful logo (font included).

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }

If you want to see what Prezi is capable of, have a look to this presentation their team put together:

.prezi-player { width: 550px; } .prezi-player-links { text-align: center; }

Internally we have other tools that we have to use for collaboration purposes, but it is clear that Prezi is definitely a powerful medium and, after having talked to the creators, I can guarantee you it will keep improving (and also moving to different platforms).

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Christian Giordano

Interview with Mr.doob

In the following months we are going to invite inspiring artists to talk about their amazing work and the role that Ubuntu and free software cover, or could cover, in their creative lives.

Today I invited a special Ubuntu friend to talk about his journey in creative coding.
He is well known in the web community and he is recently blowing it away with cutting edge online real-time music videos using open web technologies.
The Canonical Design blog is happy to welcome Ricardo Cabello, aka Mr.doob.

Hi Ricardo, thanks for accepting our invitation. Is there anything you want to add to my brief introduction?

Hello hello! Nope, I think that defines well what I try to do :)

It’s a pleasure to have you here, let’s crack on with the interview. How did you start out with computers?

Back in the early 90s when I was 10 or 11 my brother needed a computer for school and, eventually, managed to persuade my father to buy one — it was a 486 (or 386, I’m not sure). I remember being mesmerised in the shop watching Prince of Persia running on a computer. When I realised our computer came with Army Moves instead I got pretty disappointed though :P Specially because I was really bad at it…

It was my brother that started to learn how to create things with it, he started learning programming and I spent long hours sitting on his side trying to learn something myself.

And as an artist?

Eventually I got my own computer — most likely I got delegated the old one :P — and, as I didn’t seem to understand programming, I opted for graphics instead (Animator Pro, 3D Studio R3, Deluxe Paint, …) My brother also got involved in a underground movement called demoscene where people competed with each other to see who was able to make the computer do the most impressive things. For that they needed graphics, so eventually I got involved myself too. By doing these things I ended up learning a lot about computer graphics. First the authoring side, and eventually the programming side too.

Also, I know many people that don’t put their skills into practice because they don’t have projects to work on, and they are unable to coming up with their own. That’s something I got from the demoscene, you had to come up with stuff in order to compete.

How do you get artistically inspired?

Since I dived into programming I let the code inspire me. I experiment with things and APIs and in the process I come up with ideas. I also follow a bunch of random blogs about arts, illustration, installations, … that from time to time challenge me to see if I can do some of the things in realtime. And once again, more ideas spur on in the process.

How do you keep yourself informed?

Mainly twitter nowadays. It takes some time to find the right people to follow. Usually people tweet about personal things, but some share findings, culture, news and their own works.

Is there any project of yours you are particularly proud of? Tell us more about it, Inspire us!

I will say Not only is the project I’ve been able to apply most of my acquired talents but we managed to build it using mostly open source software.

That’s not entirely true though, there was a lot of proprietary software on the process… designers are still tied to Adobe products and 3d modellers/animators to Autodesk products, but we — the developers — were able to use whichever tools we wanted. I personally used gedit for all the programming. We also had some python scripts for converting data to our formats and we setup a pipeline that used Blender for composing the 3d scenes.

Best of all, we released the code of the whole project too! screenshot

Since your work stands between Art and Code, what do you think their relationship should be?

Code is just another tool for the artist. A very powerful one.

How important is programming for visual artists? Do you foresee a future where programming will cover a bigger role in the creative industry?

Programming is becoming more and more accessible (even without losing much efficiency). For example, take a look at the GLSL Sandbox, the code is right there, editable and it goes right to the graphics card. I can see more tools like these being developed and designers hacking some stuff themselves to find new styles.

Do you believe in open source? If so why?

Totally. Specially because I’ve spent many years already dealing with proprietary models.

You see, whenever you work on something, you’re creating value. That value always gets split into different parts, starting with yourself, the skills you’re acquiring, and following by the chain of clients, being the final one the one that benefits the most. After a while you start to care about who benefits from your work and I find it very rewarding sharing the code so anyone on the internets can benefit from the energies spent.

Of course, there is always the risk of getting “Angry Birded” — where someone uses your code to retire early without giving anything back to the project — but that’s ok, I want to think that these people give back to society in other ways. Eventually we will be able to bring an idea into life by combining open source projects and call it a day. That would be a pretty efficient way of using human brains.

For some, the concept of giving away your work for free may sound silly, but there are many good side effects when doing that. It speeds up development and steps up global knowledge. The public gets your thing for free and can learn from the code, anyone is free to contribute — if someone needs a feature they can step in an implement it themselves. If there is a bug somewhere they can also fix it themselves. Also, because anyone can read the code, more skilled people can have a quick read and suggest better approaches and even patches. In exchange you learn a lot of tricks from these contributions.

Do you share your code? And if so, why and how?

Of course! All my code is on github — I know, I know… proprietary platform… :P

How is three.js going? I’ve seen there is a healthy amount of contributors.

I think it’s evolving nicely. The API seems to be finally getting a bit stable now and we’re starting to consider documentation strategies. People is building tools on top of it and seems like there is a new demo or project going out every week that uses it. The community is also mostly respectful and helpful with each other.

To what extent do you use open-source technologies?

I try to use as many as possible. In the past I used to depend on Adobe products that locked myself to Windows and/or MacOS. Now that I got used to Gimp, Inkscape and Blender it doesn’t matter which OS I’m on. Neither I live under the fear that the company behind the application I depend on may decide to stop development because they don’t get enough revenue from it..

Do you use any proprietary software?

Yes. Chrome and Dropbox. Sometimes I have to use Sublime Text 2 because gedit seems to be unable to handle files with long lines. It’s a known bug that has been reported for ages…

What is your favourite software and why?

Uhm, I would go with Chrome. I live on the web and Chrome seems to be improving it considerably. Or at least, allows people like me to help improve it.

Can you tell us about one of your projects where open source was very beneficial, if not crucial?

Well, Google Gravity wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t because Box2DJS. And Box2DJS wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t because Box2D itself. Three.js wouldn’t be half of what it is if it was closed source either.

Google Gravity screenshot

What changes in Ubuntu would make your creative life better?

This may be controversial, but I prefer the experience Gnome Shell offers better than Unity — aesthetics wise and usability wise.
My dream Linux OS would be having Ubuntu’s hardware support, Fedora’s system code (systemd, etc), Gnome Shell desktop experience and Elementary aesthetics. Yum!

Can you tell us what kind of creative or technical challenge you are going to face with your next project?

There are a bunch of projects in the pipeline. But the main challenge for most of them seem to be dealing with (almost) exponential content growth… always a scary, but nice to have, problem :)

What do you think about the evolution of web standards?

It used to be a really slow process which will always be miles away from what proprietary platforms were offering. However, I think WebGL shown that this has changed and the standards can be defined and implemented at a very nice pace.

More and more “native” applications use open web technologies, especially for their UI. Is this gonna have an impact on HTML rendering engines different from WebKit?

The more contents and usage the better the engines will get. When developing for a platform the developers find cases where performance is lacking or implementation isn’t as nice as it could be. So the platform will need to improve. Otherwise other platforms will step in and developers will switch. You gotta love healthy competition :)

How do you see the future of WebGL? Do you foresee any problems Microsoft or Apple could create for its adoption?

I think the future is bright for WebGL. The real issue the technology has is bad drivers. But nothing that content can’t fix. Again, the more content that uses WebGL the more pressure graphic card vendors will get. Eventually you’ll make sure that your next computer or device supports WebGL and that’s something ATI, Nvidia and friends want to be part of. I think Microsoft are shooting themselves in the foot. Being opposed to a open standard while not even have an alternative doesn’t sound like a clever move to me. On the meantime Internet Explorer is losing market share.

Thanks a lot Ricardo for giving us some of your time and sharing your thoughts, keep up with the great work!

No problem! Sorry it took me a while to complete this. I guess I’ve been busy O:) Looking forward to reading more interview like these in the Canonical Design blog!

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Iain Farrell

Last night I watched “Press Pause Play” which in it’s own words is a film about fear, hope and digital culture. If you’ve not heard the talk surrounding the movie one of the trailers is below and we’ll catch up once you’ve … well … caught up :)

Good huh? The interesting thing about Press Pause Play is that it speaks to people who are out in the world creating interesting things and discusses what the brave new world of powerful computers, amazing tools for creation and sharing of content and ideas instantly means for the creative arts. For better or worse anyone can be a film maker now or a photographer or web designer or musician. Install Ubuntu from a USB key, plug that computer into an internet connection and “Ta-Dahhh!” you’ve got instant access to tools which allow you to create amazing things. Or functional things. Or mundane things. Or robots … seriously … people are making robots and they’re using Ubuntu to do it.

The film is extremely good and I’d urge anyone interested how people make stuff today, music, art, film all that “stuff” to watch it. I also think there’s a lot in there for people passionate about free and open source software. The way that we create software, these tools, this approach, it’s helping people who’ve never met to collaborate and produce all sorts of things.

I found it an inspiring watch and best of all it’s available for free from just download, grab a cup of tea and enjoy. I had jelly babies too but don’t eat too many, you’ll be sick.

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Iain Farrell

Some of you may have already seen our new 11.10 video. For those who haven’t, we’ll catch you once you’ve enjoyed it :)

Made in Ubuntu using only open source tools – indeed only an open source font! – I’ve made the source assets available so readers of the blog and beyond can make their own versions to promote Ubuntu. Here’s what you’ll need to do to get started.

1. Download the assets files from my Ubuntu One share by clicking this link.

2. While that’s downloading you can also install Pitivi, the video editor I used, which is easily found in the software centre.

3. Uncompress the zip file and take a look at the contents.

The Assets folder contains, as the name suggests, all the video and PNG files I used to create my video. The what’s new .xptv file is the file that Pitivi uses to pull all the assets together and make the video and the template.xcf file is the GIMP file I used as a template for the text slides that appear in between the video clips.

4. Open the What’s new 11.10v2.xptv file and you’ll have to tell Pitivi where all the assets have gone. Just point it to the Assets folder and it’ll do the rest reconstructing the video.

At this point you have two choices. You can either reuse my video assets and just translate the text panels that come up in between the videos or, if you’re feeling really daring, you can use mine like a storyboard and re-record the videos.

Translating the text panels is the simplest route, simply open the template in Gimp and then save copies as PNG files with the same names as I’ve given them. Once you hit render Pitivi will pull in the new PNGs and, boom, you’ve got a video with translated text panels. Simple!

Recording your own videos is a little more time consuming. The way I did it was using a command line tool called recordmydesktop, available again in the software centre, which I found was pretty straightforward to use. It allowed me to specify what area of the screen to record from and could be launched either in the terminal or, when I didn’t want the terminal in the launcher, using ALT-F2 and then killing the process once I’d recorded the features I wanted to share.

The only other things I did while recording was make sure that any time you’re showing the clock it’s set to 11.10 and that the wifi and volume are always at maximum and bluetooth is always on.

We’d really like to translate this into as many languages as possible and Paolo, long time Ubuntu supporter in Italy has kicked us off with Italian translation of the video and we’d love for you guys to try translating it into your own languages, maybe even go and record your own videos. Paolo’s video is below, thanks again chap, we’re hoping you’ll inspire others!

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Iain Farrell

Every day just about everyone at Canonical gets email by the bucket load. Even someone like me who’s only peripherally involved in desktop development and files his own bugs through the release cycle can get get hundreds of emails from Launchpad every day. So it made our day to get a letter like this from Neil in Monroeville.

In his letter Neil says he’s been using Ubuntu since 8.10, praises Unity and also files a bug he’s experiencing with the launcher in 11.04!

Letter from America by Neil W. Kitzmiller


Neil, you don’t give us an email address but if you read this I’ve triaged your bug, marked it as confirmed and will be sending you a CD in the post which I hope will fix your problem :) Drop us an email if you can!

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Iain Farrell


First of all a big thank you to everyone who submitted a wallpaper to our collection for the Oneiric release and to all our previous selected contributors who went through the images and selected the fine selection for this release! We had almost 2000 submissions this cycle and managed to whittle that down to 45 shortlisted pictures. We will aim to get as many as we can into the final release.

I’ve attached the images to a bug in launchpad which is how the images will get into the release and we’ll keep an eye on this listing until release day on the 13th October to make sure everything’s in place.

With so many images it’s not surprising that our shortlisters couldn’t pick out every great image so I’ve been through and made a gallery of my favourites and would encourage everyone to do the same and let the creators of this content know how much you appreciate their effort!


Thanks again and I look forward to seeing what we create next time around!

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Christian Giordano

Wireless dominoes

A while back we linked a video which explored organic displays, screens composed by “smart”, independent and moving pixels.

The concept of “invisible” computers embedded in tiny units able to coordinate themselves for a bigger result is definitely fascinating. Today I saw this other inspiring project:

Esper Domino from jarashi on Vimeo.

It is quite similar to Siftables but the dominos attracted me more because the possibility of being mixed with normal, not smart, blocks.

Kudos to Arduino for enabling this experimentation.

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Iain Farrell

Not that long ago Matt Jones of BERG fame came up with a really lovely idea! In response to the keep calm and carry on posters from the Second World War that had become so popular again he decided that a more positive statement was needed!

“It occurred to me that this was exactly the wrong sentiment for this age …

I started sketching on the paper a contrary statement, where stiff upper lip was replaced by a stiff upper arm from soldering…”

The Get Excited and Make Things poster was born.

Get excited and make things - By Matt Jones

With this in mind I’d like to open up the wallpaper submissions process for the next release of Ubuntu, Oneiric Ocelot! The Flickr group for submissions is now open and can be found at and just like last time we’re accepting both photos and rendered/ illustrated wallpapers.

For guidance on what formats are best to submit can I suggest you look at the excellent wiki page on the subject which can be found on the Ubuntu wiki at –

We recommend a minimum resolution of 2560 x 1600 and templates for GIMP can be found on the wiki page.

In order for us to make the UI freeze we need just over a week to review and shortlist entries so we will be closing the group for entries on the 11th August at 12pm UK time. From there as with previous cycles the contributors whose images were selected last time will be invited to select a shortlist that will make it into Ubuntu 11.10.

So what are you waiting for?! Get excited and make things!! I am! :)

Get snapping! By Gaetan Lee

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Iain Farrell

Round stickers made at

The stickers I made in my recent blog post have arrived and they’re lovely!

Thanks to everyone who commented, now get out there and make your own!

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Iain Farrell

This week we got a fun update from our traveling team member Ivanka! While passing through Dawson City in northern Canada Ivanka and Nick met Chalsie Warren and she recognised the Ubuntu stickers on their bike! This got me wondering whether we can track down the most extreme users starting with the most northerly Ubuntu user.

Do you know that person?

Are you that person?

Get in touch and let’s fill up this map! :D

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Iain Farrell

Some of you out there may have already seen that funky print shop just launched a new product, round stickers. This means that you can now upload round images and make lovely bespoke stickers in a pack of 52. Full disclosure before I start to say that I used to work at which is why it appealed to me to play with their product. Anyway, as soon as I saw these new stickers I thought of one thing and that thing was pictograms!

Our pictograms are a beautiful library of icons that help us illustrate the Ubuntu world and they’re all round.


I thought, I’ll grab the PNGs from, upload them and be handing out stickers around the office in no time!

But … horror of horrors … the pictograms we’ve made and put online are all 113 x 113 px and MOO recommend at least 472 x 472 px and their uploading tool doesn’t yet accept SVGs which left me with a big problem. I wanted to print 52 stickers and didn’t really want to manually open 52 images and scale them in Inkscape and resave them.

“I need to automate this!”

So here’s what I did to get my lovely pack of stickers made and what you can do to make your own pack of pictogram stickers.

What you will need …

Got it all? Right! Let’s get cracking!

So unzip your pictograms and open up Inkscape. Then select all the ones you’re going to want to resize and drag them from the folder window into Inkscape.

Dragging SVGs into Innkscape

Next you want to make these tiny little objects bigger so to do this select Object from the top menu bar and choose Transform from that drop down. Make sure you have all the pictograms selected and click on the scale tab.

Because we want to give MOO some nice big images let’s make them massive. I’ve made mine scale proportionally by 1500% and make sure you apply this to each object. Hit apply and zoom out because your screen is now filled with big orange shapes.

Next up we want to add a bit of space around our objects. Whenever you print something you need to provide an area around the image known as bleed. This will allow for the fact that your small item is being printed on a large piece of paper or card and being cut out and you want your image to go right up to the edge. This will become clearer when you upload your PNGs.

To add the bleed around mine I’ve cheated and added an invisible stroke to each object – there may well be a better way to do this but I’m excited and this is how I’ve made it work. You can do it my way by right clicking on your selection of all your pictograms and choosing Fill and Stroke.

First of all select the last tab Stroke style and enter a width of say 200px .Then select the second tab Stroke paint and click the second box in to choose Flat colour. This will immediately cover your lovely pictograms in a thick black line, not at all what we’re after, so reduce the alpha channel, the fourth bar in that pane to 0 to make our stroke transparent.

SAVE! You never know!

Now we need to be able to see all our lovely pictograms before we export them as PNGs. To do this click again on Object in the top menu and choose Align and Distribute from the bottom of that menu. This will bring up another panel with a section called Remove overlaps. I entered 100 into the vertical and horizontal just to give a little room around each object. Then click the icon next to these boxes and behold in amazement as all your pictograms sort themselves into an orderly group!


Now we’re ready to export our pictogram PNGs. To do this click on File and choose Export Bitmap from the menu. You want to export each object individually so check that box at the bottom of the export window and click Export.

This will export your PNGs to the same folder you saved your inkscape file in earlier. We’re not done yet though! There’s no such thing as transparent ink and MOO will turn our strokes black again so there’s one last step we must go through and that means firing up Gimp.

If you’ve never installed a Gimp plugin before – and I hadn’t – there are plenty of guides to get you going. It’s as simple as typing make in the correct directory from a terminal window. If you get stuck drop me a line but for now I’ll assume you have the batch processing plugin installed.

Once you’re in Gimp head over to the Filters menu in the top bar and select Batch Process.

This tool will pop up, in the input tab choose to add files and select the PNGs that Inkscape made for you. Then select the Rename tab and select a new output directory – we don’t want to overwrite and mess up the originals. Also select to flatten the images, this will remove the transparency for you. Lastly on the output tab choose PNG from the dropdown of file types. The Default should be fine. Hit start and you should fill your new folder with lovely print ready pictogram PNGs.

Try saying that three times fast!

The end is in sight! All that remains is to head over to MOO’s sticker page and make your own stickers. Upload your PNGs, crop, rotate and generally play and in no time at all you’ll have some lovely stickers in your house, on your laptop, on your friend’s laptop, on your cat, basically anywhere you put them!


Look out for a follow up post when mine arrive! :)

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Iain Farrell

At UDS in Budapest we held a session on the idea of a toolkit for community members. It would allow anyone excited enough to show off and celebrate their use and love of Ubuntu. As you can see from the notes there were a lot of ideas and one of the first activities was to create a YouTube channel celebrating Ubuntu.

Last week we did exactly that and you can now head over to right now! Go on, head over. I’ll be here when you get back … that was quick ;)

Related to this as part of the 11.04 release I worked on a video for with our web team. Intended for the features page it shows off some of the new goodness that has made it into this release. I should also say a special thanks to Jason from the Novacut project who stepped in and helped right at the end. We couldn’t have done it without you chap! Thanks!

This video and the toolkit conversation got us thinking. Everyone has their own favourite aspect of Ubuntu. The thing that makes it great for them. The thing that makes them smile when they use their computer. The thing that makes them wonder why anyone would use anything else!

So make us a video that tells the world what your favourite part of Ubuntu is.

Step 1: Come up with your ultimate Ubuntu feature and how you might make a video of it. What’s the story? Will a viewer “get it”?

Step 2: Make your video and post it up on your favourite video sharing website/ Ubuntu One/ anywhere you can put the file send it to me!

Step 3: Just like any internal design project we’ll get our Brand Lead Marcus Haslam to have a look and the ones we think make the grade will be posted on our channel for the world to see!

We’ll be looking at these throughout the Oneiric cycle, blogging and promoting the ones we think are great so there’s no deadline as such.

Get creative, enjoy and together let’s celebrate Ubuntu!

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Paul Sladen

We always knew Google Maps was good! Canonical and Ubuntu are a global organisation and there’s always somebody awake somewhere. Today that somebody was Jono Bacon, staying up late on the west coast of the United States. Before anyone in the UK was even awake there was a tweet saying that the Google satellites had spotted the early arrival of a yellow Narwhal in the River Thames just outside the London Millbank Tower Canonical offices. Google Maps did indeed prove its accuracy; when we looked out of the window from the 27th floor down towards Lambeth Bridge there was a visitor:

Narwhale Visiting Lambeth Bridge.  As seen from Canonical UK Ltd offices, 27th Floor Millbank Tower, London on 2011-04-01

Narwhal visiting Lambeth Bridge, seen from the Canonical Offices.

In Ubuntu we like to publicly test everything, yesterday the hundreds of people working on Ubuntu released Ubuntu 11.04 Beta 1. Canonical’s head of PR has informed us that just like the release, the Narwhal visit has been carefully orchestrated as part of the press activities for the final Ubuntu 11.04 release later in April. This 1st visit is a “beta” run to recheck whale head-room clearances under the bridges at low-tide.

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Iain Farrell

That’s what we want the Ubuntu desktops in Natty to feel like. We’re changing things a little bit for the coming release too. We’ll still feature some fantastic photography sourced from our Flickr group but this time we’re reserving at least 3 places for non photographic wallpapers, so things that are rendered or drawn.

Maverick wallpapers

The wallpapers from the last cycle were one of the finest collections we’ve ever had and we’re excited to see what you’ve all got to share with us in 2011. If you’ve got an amazing photo you’d like to submit simply head over to the Ubuntu Artwork group on Flickr, join up and add your photo(s) to the group. Please tag anything you’d like us to consider with the tag NattyWallpaper so that we know to look at it when judging comes around.

If you have a rendering or drawing you’d like to submit we have a new site set up for handling submissions. It can be found at As with the Flickr group images should be tagged NattyWallpaper so we can review them more easily.

For guidance on what formats are best to submit can I suggest you look at the excellent wiki page on the subject which can be found on the Ubuntu wiki at –

We recommend a minimum resolution of 2560 x 1600 and templates for GIMP can be found on the wiki page.

Lastly we have to have selections made and a package accepted into the distro in time for the UI Freeze on the 24th March so we’ll stop accepting entries after 13th March 2011 so get snapping, sketching and thinking and we’ll look forward to seeing what you all come up with!

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Iain Farrell

The theme of this week’s update is one of cool stuff that we came across this week in the world of open source.

You’ll know from Christian’s blog post a while ago that we’re really interested in the idea of interacting with your computer physically. Christian experimented with the webcam in a laptop but imagine what could be done with a Stereoscopic box of tricks like that clever Kinect setup for the Xbox!

Well, wonder no more because as it transpires we can play with it on Linux right now. Both Engadget and OMG! have written up stories and it’s quite exciting to see that this is working so soon after its release. If you’re interested in how it actually works you can head over to Wired who wrote an interesting piece about it for those with a taste for popular science.

Staying with exciting interactive technology John Lea on our team came back from a conference in Germany this week, The ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces – no less. Some representatives from a company called Archimedes Solutions demonstrated a tabletop surface running games. You can see a video from April this year showing off a castle defence game amongst others on Youtube.

Away from the new hotness the reason we’re a bit quiet is that we’re cracking on with the Natty cycle and getting our ducks in a row. There’s a lot of activity on Launchpad and we’re engaging with the artwork community. More on all of this later!

Splendid weekends everyone!

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Iain Farrell

Introducing Ubuntu screen grab

Almost all of the design team are in Orlando this week taking part in UDS. As well as getting ready for the summit in the last few weeks we’ve also been working on something we’re really excited about. You may have already seen this video we’ve commissioned which explains a little bit about what Ubuntu is. It was made for use by some partners of ours in promoting open source and in particular our favourite distro. As well as the video we’ve also produced an HTML5 based framework which will play the video on a loop. Not only does this play video but it can display anything you tell it to. Create some images or videos, edit the HTML and you can easily create a simple rolling demo with lovely transitions.

This is obviously great for us and events that Canonical goes to but we’ve also already open sourced this and put the project on Launchpad so that loco teams and other groups can use it.

We think this could be a really handy promotional tool so we’re really excited to share it with you and see what people try to add to the framework that accompanies the video. The animation is silent as it’s designed to be shown on a screen in a busy and noisy environment but the assets you choose to put in there could include sound, more images, all sorts of things!

What is Ubuntu? from Canonical Design on Vimeo.

We look forward to seeing how you guys take this forward!

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