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There seems to be a fashion nowadays for white text on black backgrounds. Debian's default xterm does this; I have had to put a line in my .Xdefaults file to ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    White on black: a rant


    There seems to be a fashion nowadays for white text on black backgrounds. Debian's default xterm does this; I have had to put a line in my .Xdefaults file to restore normal white on black. Many websites use this coloring too. They seem to think it's "cool".

    I find white on black totally illegible. I simply can't see the letters. If I am surfing and land on a white-on-black site, I just leave. Maybe there was something really interesting there that I would have liked to read but I can't read it because I can't see it.

    Worst of all is synaptic: if anything goes wrong with a package installation, you are supposed to open a "details" window to see what happened. But that's no use to me at all because the window is white on black, and I can't read it. There seems to be no way to alter the coloring either. A couple of days ago I accidentally rendered my Debian partition unbootable because I updated the kernel in synaptic, something went wrong, and couldn't see what it was in order to put it right again.

    Am I the only person around who has this problem? Is it something to do with getting old? And why, oh why, do developers and webmasters use this coloring?
    drl likes this.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  2. #2
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    No, it is not getting old. The young people do viewing without much lighting and by having the backgrounds black there is less light and the light is what they read. As for getting old, there are color combinations that work far better than black on white (black on tan, black on LemonChiffon, etc) that is why the old amber on black terminals were better than the green on black and much better then the older black on white.

    I'm 58 and use black on LemonChiffon with a 6 point font on my 1080p 15.4 inch display. My co-workers ages 23-44 can never read what I can read. I do have far-sighted correction glasses but have been using tiny font for many years without any correction (I did move to black on LemonChifon back in 2000 after moving to black on tan in 199.

    I liked it when you said xterm, that is still the best terminal program and I use it all the time.

  3. #3
    Linux Engineer MASONTX's Avatar
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    Hazel, you have hit on one of my complaints also. Not just white on black , but colors with little contrast. I agree sites should not just go for cool colors or modern looks, but consider readability, especially for those of us who have older eyes.
    Registered Linux user #526930

  4. #4
    Super Moderator Roxoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hazel View Post
    There seems to be a fashion nowadays for white text on black backgrounds. Debian's default xterm does this; I have had to put a line in my .Xdefaults file to restore normal white on black. Many websites use this coloring too. They seem to think it's "cool".
    What is it with you kids and the way things are? Back in the old days, when I was a kid, my terminal was text only - and if it wasn't white text on a black background, it was green text on a black background.

    I can only agree about the web site thing, though - white text and black background is a high-contrast view that can send your eyes funny. And when you look away, you can still see the lines for _ages_ afterwards.
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  5. #5
    Linux Guru rokytnji's Avatar
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    Left clcik highlight text always worked for me on sites or GTK windows that trip the light fantastic.

    And I have had cataract surgery.
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    Cool

    What do you mean by "[t]here seems to be a fashion nowadays for white text on black backgrounds"? Ever since I started using Linux more than 10 years ago, the classical look for the terminal was always white text on a black background. I love it, and I think this is how a terminal should look like. Whenever I install a new Linux, and the terminal doesn't come that way by default, I immediately change it. I like white regular text on black background, and Linux colors: blue for directories, green for executable files, pink for pictures, etc. Well, I understand that people have different tastes, and I don't criticize you for that. But the fact that the text looks too dark and illegible to you, perhaps it has to do with your monitor brightness, or perhaps you can adjust the luminosity in the terminal itself. Or maybe just changing the font size (in preferences) would work for you. I am using the LXTerminal that comes with Knoppix, but there is also Gnome-terminal, Kterm, etc.

  7. #7
    Linux Engineer hazel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by luiznetto View Post
    What do you mean by "[t]here seems to be a fashion nowadays for white text on black backgrounds"? Ever since I started using Linux more than 10 years ago, the classical look for the terminal was always white text on a black background. I love it, and I think this is how a terminal should look like.
    I wasn't talking about text consoles. Yes, they are white on black but they are very easy to read. The first terminals I ever used were green on black, which was ugly, but it caused no problems. The problem arises when graphical applications use white text on a black background. Maybe that works on an lcd screen, but on a crt, the background colour bleeds visually into the white text, making even large fonts hard to read. Small fonts actually disappear altogether. Designers ought to be made aware of this.

    And yes, I do use LXterm a lot of the time and that is dark grey on white, which is fine by me. But the plug-in terminal that synaptic uses to display installation info and errors is an xterm, and it is white on black, and you can't change that. It isn't affected by .Xresources because it's a plug-in. And it often contains system-critical information and I can't read it! That to me is just un-ergonomic design.
    "I'm just a little old lady; don't try to dazzle me with jargon!"

  8. #8
    Linux Enthusiast cousinlucky's Avatar
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    The young fellow that coded my website is in love with black backgrounds and insisted on it. My " Parables " page is white letters on a blue background. Neither one of them bother me at all!!
    You are not alone though, Hazel, as many people I know feel the way that you do about it.
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    I installed xcalib. I type xcalib -a -i, and I get white on black in the prompt and the inverted effect looks good everywhere except video or pictures.

  10. #10
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    yeah, another "white-on-black" hater here. i use a small-ish font and the "beige" background with a dark gray ("gray20") foreground. heaven on the eyeballs.

    okay, for a little while, i did green-on-black, to go w/my Matrix screensaver and wallpaper, but Neo bit the dust long ago.

    NOTE: based on the subject, i was nervous that this was a racial thread at first - glad to find I was wrong...

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