Fedora Design Bounty: Installer Ransom Notes

Fedora Design Team Bounty
The Fedora Design Team Bounty is a type of blog post where we’ll outline a quick-and-easy design project that needs doing for the Fedora Community, outlining all the tools, files, and other resources you’ll need to complete the project. If you’re a designer and are interested in getting involved in the free and open source community, this is a good opportunity to get your feet wet!

Fedora Installer Ransom Notes

Today, when you install Fedora, you have to wait between 5-45 minutes (depending if you’re using live media or the full installer, and how many apps you select) for the install process to finish. While you wait, this is what the installer screen looks like:
Install Progress Screen in Fedora 15
Kind of a boring thing to sit in front of for 5-45 minutes. You don’t really learn all that much or have that much fun if you have to wait. If you don’t have a book handy, and it’s on your only computer, and your coffee machine isn’t working, and you don’t need to go to the bathroom… it’s really not a fun situation, then. 🙂
For a while now both the Fedora Installer team and the Fedora Design team have been talking about adding a little bit of fun into this part of the installation process in the form of ransom notes.
“Ransom notes?” you ask incredulously. “You’re going to kidnap people??” No, no, no. Well, not people. Maybe hot dogs, though. Basically, ransom notes are little graphical ‘cards’ or ‘banners’ that go by like a slide show while the Fedora installation process progresses. If your local movie theater is anything like mine, if you show up to the theater early you may sometimes see ‘movie trivia’ and ‘fun facts’ go by on the big screen before the movie previews and featured film start. Ransom notes are like that: something to help pass the time while you’re waiting for something to happen.
We used to have ransom notes in the installer of Red Hat Linux a long, long time ago. Here’s examples of some from way back when:

Ximian Evolution
Powered By
There’s a few ideas for we could use these ransom notes for:

  • Sheer fun!
    The ‘Let’s all go to the kitchen’ example above is a good example of this.
  • Interesting information
    Something with trivia or interesting facts about Linux and free software could be cool.
  • Featured Apps or OS features
    Information about things to check out after installation. What’s a cool app or feature a new user might want to be aware of?
  • How to get help
    Once you’re all installed, where should you go for help?
  • Recruiting contributors
    Let folks know that if they like free software, they’re welcome to get involved, too!
  • Making community connections
    Point out places folks can go to connect with other Fedora users or follow the Fedora community (Identi.ca / twitter feeds? Forums? Planet Fedora? Fedora Weekly News? etc.) and get news about Fedora.

Your Mission

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with 10 Fedora installer ransom note concepts. Please feel free to use the idea above as a starting point. For each concept, have at least one if not more sketches available to show a design / layout to represent it.


Banner in installer
Here are the specifications:

  • Ransom note dimensions
    The ransom notes will be 750 pixels wide by 120 pixels, so they will be much wider than they are tall. They’ll be placed along the bottom of the screen (see screenshot with example “Where’s the Beef?” ransom note above.)
  • Expansible width
    We may want the ransom notes to expand horizontally as the screen resolution allows, so designs that can be made to easily fill a wide horizontal space (but still maintaining a 120 pixel-tall height) are preferable.
  • Color Palette
    Try to incorporate the colors of the Fedora color palette into your design, if you choose to use color in your sketches.
  • Sketches only, please!
    The important part of this bounty is coming up with compelling content for the slides. We’re not looking for completely finished / polished graphics yet. So I recommend you spend the majority of your time:
    • brainstorming concepts
    • researching the content needed
    • coming up with pithy taglines for each banner
    • coming up with ideas on how to represent them visually with rough sketches or wireframes to represent that.

Ransom Note Sketch Sheet

  • Fedora Installer Ransom Note Sketch Sheet (Download PDF (Download PNG – this is the blank canvas upon which you will unleash your awesome design ninja skills! Download it and play away! You can print out as many copies as you’d like to sketch on with pencil, or you can open it up in your favorite sketching tool and sketch using a Wacom tablet or your mouse.

Free & Open Source Digital Sketching Tools

You might have fun doing your sketches digitally using the following free & open source tools:

  • MyPaint
    MyPaint is a digital sketch book. Especially awesome with tablets. You may install it on Fedora using
    ‘yum install mypaint’

    or by searching for it in PackageKit. Downloads for non-Fedora systems available here. You may import the sketch sheet into MyPaint by opening the PNG Sketch Sheet using MyPaint’s File > Open menu item.

  • Xournal
    Xournal is a PDF-editing program that among other things allows you to open up a PDF and sketch on top of it. You may install it on Fedora using
    ‘yum install xournal’

    or by searching for it in PackageKit. Downloads for non-Fedora systems available here. You may import the sketch sheet into MyPaint by opening the PDF Sketch Sheet using Xournal’s File > Annotate PDF menu item.

  • Inkscape
    While Inkscape is primarily a vector graphics program, it’s also a great sketching tool if you use the calligraphy pen tool with a tablet. You may install it on Fedora using
    ‘yum install inkscape’

    or by searching for it in PackageKit. Downloads for non-Fedora systems available here. You may import the sketch sheet into Inkscape by opening either the PNG Sketch Sheet or the PDF Sketch Sheet using Inkscape’s File > Import … menu item.

  • GIMP
    GIMP has a lot of brushes and other painterly tools that make it a good option for sketching as well. You may install it on Fedora using
    ‘yum install gimp’

    or by searching for it in PackageKit. Downloads for non-Fedora systems available here. You may import the sketch sheet into GIMP by opening the PNG Sketch Sheet or the PDF Sketch Sheet using GIMP’s File > Open menu item.

What’s in it for you?

Okay, okay, we get it. You’re a designer or you’re great at coming up with whiz-bang slugs for banners like this, and you’ve got things to do – why would you bother helping out with this? Let’s do a quick run-down of what’s in it for you:

  • If you don’t already have it, you’ll get membership into the Fedora Design Team, which includes Fedora voting privileges and hosting space for Fedora-related projects.
  • For your personal portfolio you’ll have a set of concept sketches that will be used as a part of Fedora’s installer in Fedora 17, as part of our installer UI redesign effort. That’s right, your designs will be part of the operating system itself!
  • You’ll build skills in developing and researching concepts for software marketing – You’ll also build skills in addressing general layout challenges!
  • If you send me your snail mail address, I will send you a thank you card, a Fedora T-shirt, and some other Fedora swag in thanks for your help!
  • You’ll gain experience in contributing to a free/open source project.
  • You’ll learn more about Fedora and its community during the process of researching the ransom note content – you may learn about some interesting upcoming feature useful to you in the process.
  • Bragging rights as a free/open source project design ninja & more importantly the fourth-ever Fedora Design Team Design Bounty designer!

You’re totally pumped, right? Awesome. So where to start?

Ninja by Hector Gomez from openclipart.org – Public Domain.

The Rules

  • You’ll need a Fedora account to submit your work. Don’t worry, it’s not hard to get, you can sign up for it here, quickly and painlessly: Create a Fedora account. Once you’ve created your account, log in to sign the contributor license agreement (this gives us permission to use your work!)
  • If you are interested in taking this bounty on please make a comment to this blog post below. The first person to claim it in the comments will have exactly 48 hours to give it a shot, at the end of which the bounty will be opened up for someone else (you can try to re-claim it if you want.) I will announce all status changes in the comments.
  • You must provide your work in PNG or PDF format. If you’re working with paper printouts of the sketch sheet, this means you’ll need to scan in your sketches. If you’re working with Inkscape, MyPaint, Gimp, or Xournal, this means you’ll need to export your work to PNG or PDF format at full resolution.
  • You’ll need to abide by the Fedora brand guidelines – but please don’t let this stifle any awesome creative and innovative ideas you might have – just check in with your Fedora design team compatriots first. 🙂 More information on our branding guidelines is available on the Feora wiki.
  • When you’re ready to submit your work, submit it on the ransom note design page on the Fedora wiki. If you need help email me (duffy at fedoraproject dot org) or pop into IRC (the design team channel is #fedora-design on Freenode, and my nick is mizmo) for any guidance, assistance, or advice you might need!

Good luck!


  1. Neat!
    What’d be even better IMHO would be to integrate a little webkit (or other minimal browser) so you can just browse the time away. I can easily burn 45 minutes reading Wikipedia..

  2. I’d love to give this a shot. Posting this here means I get 48 hours to give it a shot, yes? Start the clock.

    1. Yay, a new ninja recruit!! It’s on!
      I’m not sure what coast you’re on, but let’s say you’ll get 48 hours from 10 AM Sunday morning your time, whenever that is. So report in by Tuesday afternoon, okay?

      1. I posted them last night to the ransom note design page, and I’m pretty happy with them on the whole.

        1. Holy moly, these are fantastic Chris! I really, really love the share-a-disc idea, it’s quite clever.
          You’re definitely now our official ninja #4. Can you email me your snail mail address and I’ll prep & send out your box of swag?
          Also, are you willing / have time to work with us on iterating these more?

        2. Emichan says:

          Hi Chris – I just saw your concepts – they’re really great! Congratulations and welcome fellow ninja! 🙂

  3. Maybe a bit tricky to do but, what about adding a new module in the upper part of the install window with a “Browse Internet” option?
    While we wait, we could do a bunch of useful things: tweeting about installation, sending screenshots to our flickr account, etc, etc

  4. […] worked for the Fedora Design team, and the steps to create your own bounty. You may have noticed our newest bounty was posted the morning of Software Freedom Day, and we’ve already got a ninja recruit working on […]

  5. Anonymous says:

    Are those Ransom Notes language specific? If yes, you should specify l10n requirements (i.e. no language-specific word play). If no, you really should encourage people from other languages to contribute.

  6. […] worked for the Fedora Design team, and the steps to create your own bounty. You may have noticed our newest bounty was posted the morning of Software Freedom Day, and we’ve already got a ninja recruit working on […]

  7. […] Bounty Ninja: Chris Beiser!! Chris responded to our fourth Fedora Design Bi-Weekly Bounty – coming up with concepts for Fedora installation ransom notes. Chris put together 10 concept sketches for installer ransom notes, including a very cool one […]

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