A couple of people brought up this patch recently, which changes the default X white-and-black crosshatch startup to a flat black. Gentoo picked up this patch from Red Hat’s Mike Harris before I was a developer, back in early 2003. It appears that SuSE, Mandriva, Arch Linux and Specifix have also picked it, or some variant of it, up. SuSE has one more similar to ours, according to its spec file — appending the ‘-br’ argument to Xservers. Debian and Ubuntu appear to lack the patch. Mandriva’s solution is interesting — they patch it to “Mandrakelinux blue”. This discriminates between working and broken servers, but keeps some of the other downsides.
Some reasons it’s bad:
1) Some people actually like that crosshatch pattern and use it as their desktop.
2) It can indicate problems in the drivers or monitor used; many are incapable of displaying it, whether CRT or LCD.
3) Some LCDs fail to center the screen correctly if using the black background.
4) It’s difficult to tell the difference between some long delay on the flat black screen and an actual lock-up of X.
5) It’s yet another divergence from upstream, which means more work to maintain.
Some reasons it’s good:
1) It maintains the consistency of bootup by not inserting that random “image” for some small period of time, allowing people to have the same image for GRUB, framebuffer bootup and *dm login.
2) Some people think it’s ugly.
Jim Gettys mentions the original reason why it’s the default, but monitors with bit depth greater than 1 superceded that reason.
I’ve been reconsidering whether it’s a good thing to be black by default, so I’d enjoy a discussion on the best way to proceed.