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If you like the new Plymouth theme Ubuntu Lucid got recently and want to use it in Ubuntu Karmic... you can't (or can but have to install Plymouth) because Karmic doesn't use Plymouth. But you can install this nice XSplash screen called lucid-Xsplash:

lucid xsplash

To install it, download lucid-Xsplash, then open nautilus as root (press ALT + F2 and enter: gksu nautilus), navigate to /usr/share/images/xsplash and extract there all the contents of the downloaded archive. Then remove all the images in that folder having the name "bg_RESOLUTION.jpg" (where RESOLUTION is a number like 800x600, etc.), and then append "bg_" in front of each resolution file (eg: 1024x768.jpg) file extracted from the archive. You have to do that because it appears the author of this XSplash forgot to add the "bg_" prefix to the files.

Then, to test the new XSplash, type this in a terminal:
sudo xsplash

And pres ESCAPE to exit the XSplash preview.

See also: 8 More Beautiful XSplash Screens For Ubuntu