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 colorsβ€”

Ubuntu orange
Canonical aubergine

β€”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 inβ€”the illusory topology of a 3d surface, the subtle photographic texture, suggestions of fluid motion and radiating warmthβ€”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