2012-10-09

The new desk­top back­ground in Ubuntu 12.10 has been var­i­ously de­scribed as:

Viewer in­ter­pre­ta­tions tend to fo­cus on the im­age’s bizarre mix of col­ors, a con­coc­tion which I sus­pect is the out­come of an awk­ward at­tempt to co­erce to­gether the of­fi­cial col­ors

Ubuntu or­ange
Canonical aubergine

—while con­form­ing to the dev­il­ish re­stric­tion that the im­age must have a sim­i­lar tone through­out and a sin­gle point of fo­cus.

Given their con­straints, I think the de­sign­ers did a com­mend­able job.

There’s a lot to take in—the il­lu­sory topol­ogy of a 3D sur­face, the sub­tle pho­to­graphic tex­ture, sug­ges­tions of fluid mo­tion and ra­di­at­ing warmth—but the thought I keep com­ing back to, as I trace the tra­ver­sal of alien hues, is What color is that?” What col­ors does this mon­stros­ity have tucked away in its palette?

Developer and all-around tin­kerer Chirag Mehta has cre­ated a sim­plis­tic tool to help an­swer this kind of ques­tion. Given an RGB co­or­di­nate in no par­tic­u­lar color space, Name that Color will re­turn the English-language name of a sim­i­lar color from an in­for­mal pool of sev­eral color name dic­tio­nar­ies. It uses a strange met­ric for color sim­i­lar­ity and its color name dic­tio­nar­ies are mu­tu­ally in­com­pat­i­ble, but the avail­abil­ity of an easy to use pro­gram­matic in­ter­face makes it well-suited for light­hearted ex­plo­ration.

Let’s use it to in­spect Ubuntu’s wall­pa­per:

Hover over the im­age above.

That’s a lot of col­ors. The full-res­o­lu­tion im­age con­tains 49,075 unique col­ors, re­solv­ing to 122 dif­fer­ent color names. Did you find these ones?

Tall Poppy
Revolver
Jaffa