Based on Joe Friend's feedback on the site's recent theme change, there's a possibility of replacing the current site header image:

bg header

What should we replace it with, if anything? The image is currently in a 385 x 101 space, though it appears to me that there'd be more horizontal space available.

  • Note it gets cropped vertically on my 15" laptop, to 70px (at 1.0 zoom). Which still works IMO, because enough of the content is in that middle 70px. – sourcejedi Aug 16 at 12:04
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    I never saw this image before and I have been using this site for years. Where is it (apart from in this post)? – gogoud Aug 17 at 6:34
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    @gogoud It went live with the new site design last week. Thankfully Stack Exchange seems to have retired it today after we objected to it. You can see it in situ in this screenshot, near the top right (poorly contrasted). – Gilles Aug 17 at 20:55
  • This graphic reminds me quite a lot of Stuart Davis's art, specifically the one from Radio City Music Hall. – malan Aug 25 at 12:21

13 Answers 13

My personal preference would be to make it blank or non-existent all together.

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    The Meta site looks ok, and it doesn't have that graphic. – Kusalananda Aug 16 at 6:01
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    This is the boring solution. Blank would be better than the current one, but with the main logo being rather plain, it would be nice to have something there. (Compare say to the main logo of electronics.SE) – ilkkachu Aug 16 at 9:30
  • +1 I blocked it with ad-blocking for it not to be there. Actually, Afterward I blocked all that line, it steals valuable screen real estate. – Rui F Ribeiro Aug 18 at 0:59
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    Or, if needs must, something that fits in a 1x1 pixel square. – Gerard H. Pille Aug 22 at 8:41

I like dave559's suggestion of bees. Bees perform a vital function in nature, they're industrious and they all work together as a complicated society.

I'd like to go a little further and request an image with multiple bees of different species, to symbolize the diversity of the Unix ecosystem. I don't mind the style of the drawing (or photo) as long as it's detailed enough to see that the bees are different species.

I admit that this is more work than a simple abstract shape, but this is the first time I've heard a design idea that really evokes Unix to me.

(My second choice, if it's not bees, is no image. I hate the current image and wish it had never been put up.)

I like the user394’s idea to present the shell prompt.

In fact, the shell is what connects all Unix & Linux kinds, starting from BusyBox used in embedded devices, across Macs (with all their dissimilarities), to huge Linux servers. A shell works on all of them and behaves much same way. Even if you see it on Windows (using Cygwin, WSL etc.), you know: Now it behaves the Unix way.

I’d like to present a full featured prompt, showing additional Unix features:

  • a Bash prompt which is likely the most common one
  • the root user as a universal administrator of any Unix instance
  • a hostname meaning you can work with several computers from a single terminal (using SSH, for example)
    • I’d choose stackexchange
    • it was unix in the original version but I want to not be redundant with the command, see below
  • the slash representing the single-root directory structure making it so easy to mount and clone anything you like (and creating a hard time for newcomers from Windows :-) )
  • a command representing getting help on Unix
    • man is the standard one
    • the unix manpage speaks about sockets but I find this an easter egg rather than a problem, the important thing is that it indeed works!

This is the text appearance of the result:

stackexchange:/# man unix█

(If you know a good command that could be written in the shell and extend the presented idea, please tell me! Preferred option incorporated.)

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    Classic command: echo "Hello, World!", or a single valid tar command. – muru Aug 22 at 13:14
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    along these lines, I'd like to see a find command; either an earnest one that solves a common set of problems, or whimsical one (find /UNIX&LINUX -type Answer) – Jeff Schaller Aug 22 at 14:42
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    Maybe *nix:/# █? – user394 Aug 22 at 17:19
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    @JeffSchaller LINUX: not found. (In other words: cue debate as to whether the command has to be a valid one.) As invalid commands go, I'd prefer something like alias help=https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/ask. Or browse https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/ask, but at a non-root prompt ($, not #). – Gilles Aug 22 at 22:21
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    I'm not keen on that because Unix is not only about the command line. – Gilles Aug 22 at 22:22
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    What about one of the various documentation commands? man unix or whatis linux come to mind as good options. – Austin Hemmelgarn Aug 23 at 13:04
  • @AustinHemmelgarn Thank you for sharing your ideas! I really like the first one and have just incorporated it into my answer. – Melebius Sep 3 at 11:53

What about a banner logo featuring an O'Reilly-style animal image, perhaps?

Hmm, this site is part of a network of sites, a hive mind, even: a swarm of monochrome bumble bees, perhaps?

Busy, focussed on carrying out tasks, elegant in their own (but often under-appreciated) way, and sometimes liable to sting if upset? I can see a few parallels there… ;-)

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    I like the symbolism of bees. It doesn't have to be in O'Reilly style. Why a bumblebee specifically? Actually, a series of images of bees of different species would reflect the diversity of the Unix ecosystem. – Gilles Aug 17 at 20:43
  • I suggested bumblebees as I think they look cuter and friendlier than other bees, that's all! ;-) – dave559 Aug 20 at 10:43

I would like to see a graphic of a classic shell prompt.

$> _

Perhaps not the above prompt exactly, but a shell prompt nonetheless.

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    We do get a lot of command line questions, but I'd like to avoid saying “this is the command line site”. This site isn't just for command line users. – Gilles Aug 17 at 20:44
  • @Gilles I think the shell is important for Unix though. Please check my answer for details. – Melebius Aug 22 at 10:00

The idea behind the current graphic, at least what I understand of it, is nice: connection. There's a beauty and elegance to a shell pipeline - a connection of commands - data flowing from one to another, transforming again and again, that's simply mesmerizing. If the graphic could be fixed to be less convoluted and more elegant ...

I'm a fan of this header graphic, right in the center:

enter image description here

I would prefer no graphic at all. I am all for simpler web designs.

Failing that, how about putting an option like we have in our profile for the left option, for not having that Unix&Linux bar area at all, on the top?

I blocked it with adblocking and it looks so much less clutered. It is after all valuable space.

PS. I also add-blocked the Hot network questions area while in the Unix questions. Visual clutter is not welcome.

Obviously at the touch of an icon in the browser I can easily see it all if I want to see it.

Possibly a stylized version of a pdp-7 or pdp-11 since those are the original machines unix ran on? Just a single cabinet, perhaps black and white, with white circles for the tapes, or comic-like.

The other thing I thought of was an idealized screenshot of space travel, the game that Ken Thompson supposedly developed unix to play.

update:

Here's a quick stab at a stylized pdp-7

enter image description here

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    On the one hand I like your idea, I like its style and the old mainframe's vintage charm; on the other hand I think appealing to some lone-hackers-at-mainframes-sort-of-cult isn't the right choice for this site. If I were to explain to an average guy why I use Linux I would tell him something about the supportive community and the freedom of tinkering it gives, and I'd try not to make him feel as if he was sitting on the chair in your picture. – Arch Stanton Aug 24 at 21:33
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    PS Thanks for the Space Travel tip. I didn't know about that. – Arch Stanton Aug 24 at 21:42
  • @ArchStanton: You're absolutely right. I didn't think about it like that, but that is the whole point of Linux/Unix. – malan Aug 25 at 12:08

I’ll throw a radical idea out there: what about adding text and/or links to help introduce and/or guide users on the site?

Ideas include:

up vote 1 down vote accepted

3 weeks in, the votes as of today lean toward "no graphic at all":

  • +10 blank/non-existent
  • +7 for bees, second choice none
  • +5 for a "full featured prompt" shell prompt
  • +4 for a classic shell prompt
  • +4 for an O'Reilly-style animal (bees)
  • +3 for a centered "Unix & Linux"
  • +3 current image, but less convoluted and more elegant
  • +2 a stylized pdp-7
  • +2 no image or no top bar at all
  • +1 introductory links
  • -2 keep existing, add bee & penguin
  • -4 keep existing

... which is (now) the current situation, the image having been removed as of Aug 17 at 20:55.

How about keeping the existing logo but add an O’Reilly bee image, an ampersand and an O'Reilly-style penguin to the right? (and that would allow us to make endless puns about bees, penguins, penguins getting stung by bees, penguins eating bees, refer to the site as Bees&Penguins, ...)

No change / "none of the above". That is, keep the current image presented in the Q.

  • This answer is essentially: “keep the current image”? – Jeff Schaller Aug 16 at 12:01
  • This is to keep the image I am currently seeing. slm's answer is to "make it blank or non-existent all together". – sourcejedi Aug 16 at 12:01
  • Got it; I misunderstood initially (now-deleted comment) – Jeff Schaller Aug 16 at 12:02

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