Oxygen Icons Website Launched

David Vignoni, Kenneth Wimer and Nuno Pinheiro, 3 of KDE's finest artists, are very proud to present the Oxygen website, explaining what Oxygen is and the direction it is going in. Oxygen is the new icon theme being created for KDE4. Everything started in March 2005 when a bunch of KDE contributors met in Berlin to form the Appeal Project with the goal to promote KDE related projects and to push the open source desktop to another level. Oxygen aims to bring a modern, cool and very usable and consistent icon theme, in SVG format. In addition to high quality design, Oxygen also promotes technological innovation and increased usability by proposing new file interaction methods, animated effects and the intelligent use of SVGs.

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by Erik Hill (not verified)

I've taken a look and think these are a good balance of elegance, usability and beauty. In other words, as soon as it's done, this will be the one I use.


by Wade Olson (not verified)

Agreed. Superb.

This thread is probably going to be a big love-fest, and deservedly so.

I couldn't be more pleased with their work. Plenty of people have talent, but it's obvious that they have really taken a rigorous and methodical approach, and their preparation is paying off.

Some earlier previews were a tad pixelated on some LCD resolutions, but even that's been refined.

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

I'll give that a boring "Me too!"

Absolutely stunning!

by JB (not verified)

Those are the most beautiful icons I've ever seen.

by Jack Curry (not verified)

Those icons rock. The colors are excellent, and the imagery is sophisticated and professional, but still fun. I can't wait until KDE 4!

by ltmon (not verified)

I was really hoping to get more details about the other cool things about Oxygen that they have hinted at in the past.

For example, dynamic lighting effects on all icons causing a consistent "light source" to be present on the desktop. Also how are animated icons going to be used?

That said I really do like the consistent, thought-out and methodical approach taken, rather than the normal "Here's a whole lot of pretty pictures" icon design.


by furanku (not verified)

I agree on that.

After also plasma and appeal promised a "whole new desktop experience" I'ld expect something more exciting then just "new pretty pictures". It would be nice to see some of the mentioned effects like the animation and dynamic lightning effects in work, because these are to me the really new features.

For that reason I don't like the static shadow under the "actions" icon, because when lightning is used as a visual aid to tell the user what is going on, the shadows should of course follow that scheme. One could for example give the user the impression of having an icon lifted above the desktop for a drag'n'drop action and a folder opening to signal that it's selected as a possible drop target.

Well, maybe I'm a bit to impatient, but the oxygen, appeal and plasma announcments set my expectations pretty high!

by pinheiro (not verified)

Well that part is still under development and we dont have anything to show just yet on that department, in some time i espect to have somthing to show, this is one of the parts in oxygen were we are going to need the most feedback couse its new, and we dont want to over do it.

by furanku (not verified)


Thanks for the answer, I'm looking foreward to see the first results :)

by ac (not verified)

What else could I say... I'm impressed. Now I understand why KDE didn't want to use the crappy Tango icons ;)
128x128 is also a good choice for the default icon view. I'm not really sure that the one-color-only mimetype icons are a good idea (they look boring right now) but we'll see.

by Vlad C. (not verified)

The previews look amazing! However, I wonder if it is smart to
"keep Oxygen fresh for KDE 4, that will be released sometime in the middle of 2006."

In the meanwhile, potential contributors might be drawn to improving Tango not because its icons are better, but simply because Tango draft icons are already available in SVG format.

It might also be a good idea to include a TODO list on the Oxygen website saying which icons still need to be done. This would help channel efforts into the areas that need most work.

by ac (not verified)

I don't like the Tango icons, they look cartoonish, unaesthetical. Probably the worst icons made for GNOME so far. Still nuvola beats the hell out of Tango icons. But then it's my personal taste. I also don't like to see Tango influence this project since I believe that the KDE people are doing better in any ways.

by Christopher Parker (not verified)

I think Tango will be great at least for creating standard icon naming conventions. It would be great if a great GNOME icon theme could be used on KDE and a great KDE icon theme could be used on GNOME. Both sides have some really talented graphic designers.

by Anonymous (not verified)

Afaik the icon naming convention already existed before Tango.

by UsabilityDude (not verified)

PLEASE keep the icons facing at the SAME direction! It is VERY important for consistency and unified look. For example, check the speaker here:
It should not be looking up.

by molnarcs (not verified)

"It is VERY important for consistency and unified look."

Why is that so important? I don't think they look worse if they face multiple directions. Currently (in my kicker) icons look at various directions, and it doesn't bother me in any way, and it looks good!

I'm asking this because I heard this before, but I never heared an explanation - or is it just that it looks better if they face the same direction? (I can accept that, I can even accept that most people would find it more pleasent that way - even though I personally don't - if the claim is backed up by solid research).

by Carlo (not verified)

>I'm asking this because I heard this before, but I never heared an explanation

Some have a sense of aesthetics, some don't.

> or is it just that it looks better if they face the same direction?

It's worse. A set doesn't look consistent, when the imaginary view point axis isn't the same for all icons.

by furanku (not verified)

I think it's just about aesthetics, nothing more.

> A set doesn't look consistent, when the imaginary
> view point axis isn't the same for all icons.

What is a "point axis"?

I think you want to talk about the the "vanishing point", which is the point where parallels in some perspectivic point of views intersect. This has nothing to do with the orientation of the depicted object, and is also for a two dimensional desktop irrelevant, because then you would need to change the view of the icon depending on the position on the screen (which would be easier to implement if you would go to a real three dimensional Desktop).

So maybe you mean that all icons should have the same perspectivic point of view, but the actually are consistent in that. The speaker is in the same perspectivic view as the printer next to it, the object itself is just rotated. I think it's legitim to do that. A speaker for example has it's "chakteristic view" of the cone, chassis and the coils if seen in a "semiprofile". If you look at it in a frontview you basically see concentic circles, which are not that easy to identify as a speaker. Similar observations lead to other (rotational) views on other objects, but the perspective stays the same.

by oliv (not verified)

>What is a "point axis"?

Something similar to a line surface ? but with 1 dimension less... fractal stuff, perhaps?

by molnarcs (not verified)

I saw this in the past few weeks. I think this new hobbyhorse is actually a (psycho)linguistic phenomenon. Icons facing in the same direction convey a sense of order which is one of the connotiation of consisteny (it is not its meaning, and I won't say it is its primary connotation, just one of them).

From a usability point of view it doesn't make too much sense, nor does it from an aesthetic point of view. Take a look at my kicker in the kde screenshot>

The reason that the icons are inconsistent there is not primarily because they face different directions (take a look at the middle), but because they are from different icon sets (no icon set is complete enough unfortunately). There are a number of aspects that make an icon theme more consistent, all of which are more important than the direction they face (for instance, the color palette). In fact, if we allow the "direction" mantra to override other aspects, it may even hurt usability. Icons should be easy to distinguish from a distance, and what's more, if there are two applications that serve more or less the same function (you see kword, openoffice writer and scribus in my screenshot), the difference in the direction helps to distinguish (not only on first sight, but it makes easier to remember as well).

Basically the parent's post is a good example for taking direction too seriously. We see three icons: printer, speaker, CD. The printer and CD face us, the speaker doesn't ... and actually couldn't. Imagine the same speaker from the front :)) So basically parent is asking for redrawing the icon completely, because it doesn't face us. This "must face the same direction" is a little bit overrated, don't you think?

by Lala (not verified)

'From a usability point of view it doesn't make too much sense, nor does it from an aesthetic point of view.'

You are talking about about aestetics and usability? First, you have to learn something about colors (your desktop, which you are so proud of, is a proof that you are colorblind). Combination of shity green and shity blue color on your desktop is a great example how one should not use the colors.

And rule number one (which you don't understand):

Aestetics = usability

'There are a number of aspects that make an icon theme more consistent, all of which are more important than the direction they face (for instance, the color palette). In fact, if we allow the "direction" mantra to override other aspects, it may even hurt usability.'

No shit. Dude, you don't understand anything. Direction is as important as any other aspect. Icons must not be a disturbing element on a desktop, and they are disturbing element if they are not facing the same direction.

by oliv (not verified)

>Aestetics = usability

Please check in a dictionary. And then read some documentation about usability. And then think. The conclusion will spring. A sparkle of understanding in your mind. A delicious feeling.

by molnarcs (not verified)

"your desktop, which you are so proud of,"

Oh, please - I'm not proud of it, in fact, I linked to it as an example for color mismatch. I prefer green as a background, and I have yet to find an icon theme that is both complete and integrates well to my taste in backgrounds.


Yeah, sure. I just checked the highest rated icon sets on kde-look: nuvoeXT, crystalclear, nuvola, in this order. These are the icon sets users found most pleasing, and yet - behold the direction of the icons: ftp://hatvani.unideb.hu/pub/personal/screenshots/icons/

I think this pretty much settles the matter: good usability doesn't have to be explained to the users (with brain-pattern-recognition babble). I'm all for cooperation and whatnot, and my intention is not to incite a flamewar, but this entire matter reminds me of usability folks in the "other" project having to explain why one or other feature (spatial browsing by default comes to mind is supposed to be better), disregarding every complaint from the userbase... yeah, sure, you usability pundits don't have to listen to your users (this is a hypothetical "you" here, adressed to usabilityDude type of pundits). If they don't agree with your views on usability, it simply because they have poor aesthetic taste, and idiots in general, right?

by Thomas Zander (not verified)

Hi usabilityDude;

I'm not new to usability and the only thing I know about is people facing left or right as well as moving things going left or right.
The things you point out are new to me, please tell us how you came to the above conclusion.


by UsabilityDude (not verified)

I will only say one thing: BeOS.
It had ALL its icons facing at the same direction. And this made a HUGE impression to its users, making them think that the system is actually easier to use, because the brain did not have to adjust itself to recognize shapes looking at different directions.

Usability for large sets of icons DICTATES that for consistency and for brain's ease-of-pattern-recognition, ALL its icons MUST face at the same direction.

The new Gnome effort is also doing the exact same thing. I hope the KDE dudes also listen and do it too.

by molnarcs (not verified)

In my above reply I tried to remember where I saw icons that were aesthetically unpleasent and they looked like an army or something - and BANG! it was the BeOS screenshots I saw (I just didn't remember it).

"Usability for large sets of icons DICTATES that for consistency and for brain's ease-of-pattern-recognition, ALL its icons MUST face at the same direction."

I think this is a hoax - or at least it doesn't make any sense (but sounds good and it looks like as if it was something serious - it isn't). Capitalizing the keywords don't help it either :) Lets see:
- "for consistency:" this almosts amounts to tautolgy ... consistency with what? with each other? Because there are a lot of factors that are more important to make an icon set consistent: the color palette, the "theme" (in the sense of kids-icons, realistic-icons, whatnot), etc.

- "and for brain's ease-of-pattern-recognition," Again, what do you mean by that? Becaue it sounds cool and all, but there is no such thing as the brain's easy-of-pattern-recognition. Yes, the brain recognizes patterns (which appears to be acquired with and a function of language) - even where there are none I might add :) - but that doesn't necessarily help usability at all. It is much more important what the icons actually represent. The user should know at first glance what will be the result of clicking a particular icon, and whether all icons face the same direction or not doesn't help a bit in this.

- " because the brain did not have to adjust itself to recognize shapes looking at different directions." You largely underestimate the average brain. Your entire argument is a classic case of thinking of human beings as computer programs in the sense that you reduce the user to a set of functions - the brain's easy-of-pattern-recognition function - without taking into consideration just how complex the entire issue is. For instance, one might argue that "a slight variation in the direction icons look keeps the brain unconsciously alert" - I just couldn't make that argument with a straight face :))

Are you sure you didn't make that post with tongue in cheek (because then, I'm a victim of your humour :)))

by UsabilityDude (not verified)

You are obviously an idiot. Icons of a given set must be consistent with each other. They do look better, they do look more welcoming, and they don't look like a FREAKING MESS.

by Dolio (not verified)

You're probably going to have to do better than resorting to name-calling to get people to take your point seriously.

Try answering his actual points. Calling him an idiot is just a signal that you don't have actual data to back up your point of view.

by molnarcs (not verified)

"You are obviously an idiot." Yeah, obviously.

You answered none of the points I raised, and your reaction is quite ironic in the light of your nickname and the fact that you're preaching usability.

I will try to describe my points more simply (I'm not an english speaker, so it might be difficult to understand me sometimes). So: whether an icon theme is consistent or not depends on many things, of which the direction they face is the least important. I refer you to my screenshot that I posted before. If you check out the 4 icons in the middle, odd one is obviously the kword icon - not because it leans in another direction, but because it has an entirely different color palette.

What you wrote as an explanation seems to be no more than good sounding but empty terms (brain-pattern-recognition...) and I eagerly awaiting your real answer to the points I raised concerning your techno babble.

My whole point is that icon direction is totally overrated. Yes, I can imagine certain circumstances when it is beneficial, or simply looks better (like mimetypes/folder icons) - but that doesn't mean that they are actually more usable or user friendly. In very simple terms, a variation in direction might help the users remember the distinctions between say scribus, openoffice or kword which have similar functionality (thus they'll have similar icons: see my example, there is pen and paper on each of them) but are completely different beasts in reality.

Your BeOS example fails on the point that, again, you overrate one aspect of the UI (all BeOS icons lean in the same direction) so much that you attribute the - admittedly legendary - usability of BeOS to this single factor. This is the least important factor in my opinion, and what's more, I haven't seen any solid evidence or theory behind your reasoning except the (silly) BeOS example and the fact that GNOME is doing it. Fine, and tango actually is not bad, but what makes it good is that it is less dull than the current GNOME icon theme - see the comparison on the project's page. And we know pretty well that the current icon theme was also the result of wild usability theories, which now seem to be discarded in favor of a new one (and I might add that what makes tango nice is that it is not very dissimilar to oxygen's less vibrant themes).

In short: if you come up with such a wild theory, and you keep shouting DO THIS BECOUSE USABILITY DICTATES IT, you better come up with some reasoning beside GNOME is doing it and BeOS ruled once. And don't call those who disagree with you idiots. Thanks.

by Silviu Marin-Caea (not verified)

The Crystal Icons are not bad at all, either. On the contrary. Remember those before Crystal? They looked kind of brown (Gnomish) :-) Crystal is a great appearance for KDE.

Everaldo remains one of KDE's finest artists, too.

by Ascay (not verified)

My problem with the Crystal Icons is that they don't look really good at 32x32 (a bit blurry) and 16x16 (a bit hard to distinguish from each other).
If you have a small monitor or just want to use a lot of icons on desktop, toolbars and Konqueror they are not the best choice. For example I have a desktop resolution of 2560x1024 (Xinerama) and still prefer 32x32 for the desktop and 16x16 on quickstart bars.

In 64x64 or 128x128 they look really great, but who uses such big icons? A good example is the wallet icon. It looks fantastic - but not on smaller icon sizes.

Oxygen seems to go into the same direction. In this respect I like the Tango concept a bit more (yet it has some other disadvantages e.g. some icons like the speaker are very hard to recognize at smaller sizes).

by MamiyaOtaru (not verified)

And yet Oxygen is being made to use 128x128 optimally. Toolbar icons are being designed for 32x32 at least, but who knows how they'll look in 16 or 22, and mimetypes designed for 128 may just look terrible in detailed list view..

I would hope they address it, but it doesn't sound like they are paying any more attention to making sure small icons are usable than Everaldo did. SVG just isn't hot at 16px

We'll see I guess, there's just an awful lot of acclaim being lobbed at what amounts mostly at this point to words.

by bangert (not verified)

actually - i really hope icons are going to be 'bigger' in the future...

and i really hope that screens will start to become 'bigger' as well. i want higher resolution in terms of ppi so that nice icons don't fill that much...

give me 19" screen with 4000x3000 pixels and i put 128x128 in my toolbar right away...

but, thanks to the limits in windows, hardware vendors will not give us that... hoping for vista

by Pingveno (not verified)

Some types of screens can not become larger. For example, I'm currently typing on a laptop with a 14.1" screen. If the screen got much bigger, it would loose its portability. Since a significant amount of people have a laptop or a small monitor, KDE will always have to keep these people in mind.

by Evan "JabberWok... (not verified)

Yes, but physical screen size has no direct correlation to size of icons without factoring in resolution.

Which is to say - your future 14.1" screen with a 4000x3000 resolution will need large icons (around 128px) to have them be the same size as today's medium icons (around 32px). Physical screen size will likely maintain a range of sizes to suit the consumer's taste, but resolution tends to always increase. Thus large icon sizes satisfy increasing resolutions on any physically sized screen from your small laptop to large widescreen displays.

by MamiyaOtaru (not verified)

I can't say I've ever seen anyone complain about Crystal. Well, not until I read Oxygen's site complaining about childishness etc. Of course they are going to push their theme, but to me it looks like an end run around Everaldo, who's put in a ton of time making an awesome icon theme for KDE.

I obviously wasn't around for the conference that birthed Oxygen, but I just haven't seen the great outcry for a new theme that a project of such magnitude would seem to imply.

Nuvola certainly wasn't far behind, but it was. Crystal had the lead. Granted, FLOSS is about choice, and plenty of people like Nuvola and will like Oxygen (while others can continue using Crystal), I just don't see why it is being treated as a shoe-in to be the new default, especially when we really haven't seen any of it. All may become clear as time passes ;)

/me adopts a wait and see attitude

by David Vignoni (not verified)

A new theme was needed anyway to take advantage of the new upcoming KDE 4 features. Regarding Crystal it is a nice theme and people like it, but there were many problems with small icons and the original author haven't never done a work of theme mantainence and it took a lot of time before the sources were made available to the community, and anyway as Illustrator files. Oxygen will be released as SVG, so all the sources will be available and the Oxygen team is commited to mantain the theme when released. We know SVG isn't good for small icons, for this reason we will made special version for these small sizes.

by Thomas (not verified)

Great work!

by Nilesh Bansal (not verified)

I am sure that KDE 4 will rock. And more so with the new fresh icon theme.

What kind of tools/software is used for designing this kind of stuff. I doubt if GIMP can do that all this. Are there any good linux based softwares?

by Yuko (not verified)

I saw for Linux a program that is more similar in apparence to Photoshop :

But the program isn't be OpenSource or Free , you have to pay to use more than trial time ... The program isn't be so expensive.

by MaBu (not verified)

I think that icons are madi with some SVG editor like, Inkscape or Sodipodi. They are both GPL and free. Maybe they are made with Corel.

by pinheiro (not verified)

I use mainly inkscape, but i also use krita, karbon14, and all of the great desktop kde is.

by rinse (not verified)

Besides the applications that are already mentioned, I heard that XaraExtreme will become available for linux under an open source license...

by David Vignoni (not verified)

I use Adobe Illustrator. The I fix the SVG files with Inkscape. I use Machintosh to work and have KDE installed also, but I try the results on another Linux machine.

by St. Kevin (not verified)

... and less blue, which I consider a grand thing.

by Eleknader (not verified)

I'm not sure I understand the licence of Oxygen icons right. It's non-commercial so are commercial (closed source) software vendors able to distribute these icons without opening the source of the programs?

I was wondering this just because it would be great to see some closed source offerings complementing the great KDE user experience.

Also, will these icons be cross-desktop like Tango icons?


by Eleknader (not verified)

Hrm, after RTFA I found that the icons will be released under GPL, LGPL or under a icon-specific similar licence.

Sorry for not RTFA before asking ;)

by Chris C (not verified)

> Also, will these icons be cross-desktop like Tango icons?

If a cross-desktop look was being sought after then there's no reason the better icons couldn't be folded into Tango (the help, navigation and reload buttons in particular are gorgeous and miles better than the Tango ones). For once there's absolutely no difference between the stated goals of the "rival" initiatives, and it's obvious that Oxygen is following the same visual guidelines sgarrity came up with for Firefox (and thus Tango).

I'm pretty disappointed with the need to "preview" an unfinished icon set for the sake of keeping up appearances, especially when combined with a promise to relicense later. It's yet more duplicated effort.

- Chris

by pinheiro (not verified)

About cross-desktop,yes i hope so!
but we will need to do 2 version, couse ours will be done im full svg and probaly will have specila features that only kde at near future time will be able to render, and a normal multi size png icon set for all other desketops.

by Jakob Petsovits (not verified)

Please try hard to remain compatible to 'the other desktop'. Not that I use gnome, but there's a lot of duplicated work or icon themes that never reach the other desktop and it's just a lack of communication.

Tango did maybe not involve the KDE developers enough in their preparation phase, but their specification is still adaptable. You three are the ones who will decide on icon names, usage, guidelines and everything, and I ask you to actively participate in the evolution of the Tango icon naming specification, so that it's really usable by KDE too.

I'm glad that you're not against cross-desktop usage, but just hoping isn't enough to succeed here. Get on the Tango-artists mailing list at fd.o and push the changes in that you think are necessary. For the best of both of the big desktops.