Originally Published: Monday, 15 January 2001 Author: Jessica Sheffield
Published to: enhance_articles_desktops/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Interface Enhancement

Linux.com Live! recently had the privilege of speaking with the staff of Themes.org about the role of theming and interface enhancement in the future of Linux. Read on to hear their opinions on the user experience, theming, and moving a mouse with your mind...

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This article is taken from a Linux.com Live! event sponsored by the Desktops section. A full log of the event will be posted soon in the Live! section.

Linux.com Live! recently had the privilege of speaking with the staff of Themes.org about the role of theming and interface enhancement in the future of Linux. With the release of kernel 2.4 and its emphasis on improving the end user's system, the role of the desktop in Linux is more important than ever.

We began by asking the Themes.org staff what they think the term "interface enhancement" encompasses.

"I suppose literally it's anything that improves the user's experience," replied Greg Sanders, Themes.org site manager. Themes staffers BatmanPPC and moss agreed. Greg added, "I think it's important to point out too that there are few hard, fast rules about it. Different people respond differently to the various types of interfaces. Hence, the various window managers."

Linux.com: What will Themes.org be doing in the future to improve the user experience?

Greg replied, "Themes.org has quite a bit up its sleeve as far as making it easier to enhance your interface. There's going to be a lot of cross theme integration - so you can get your GTK, Sawfish, Mozilla and xmms themes all at once. You'll also be able to pick the themes apart and get just the pieces you want. And, there'll be some things we hope will shake up the interface community - but more about those later."

Linux.com: Let's talk about choices for a minute. Greg noted that choice is an important part of the interface world. Do you think these new features will serve to expand folks' choices?

Themes.org staffer Xerithane said, "If there were a perfect window manager for everyone, Themes.org wouldn't exist."

Greg agreed. "Not everyone has the same requirements for their environment. Maybe our new features will spur some further development of ways to customize the interface."

xevol added, "That is, in fact, what makes the X windows system so very great... all the parts are separated."

Linux.com: So let's say I'm a new user to Linux. What do you think the interface world, and Themes.org in particular, has to offer me?

BatmanPPC replied, "Choice - and how! There's so much to choose from."

Xerithane added, "Most of the new Linux users are coming from Windows or Mac backgrounds - choice is something unheard of there."

Linux.com: What if it's a little overwhelming? What words can you offer to new users who might get lost in all the flood?

Greg said, "Personally - pick KDE or GNOME, they are most like what they're used to [with Windows or MacOS]."

Linux.com: What would your ideal window manager do?

Most of the staffers were loyal to their preferred window manager. moss said, "Everything that e does!", while ishamael noted, "Afterstep already does everything I want it to." Greg wanted something to "run like blackbox but be super-theme-able." Xerithane informed him, "that's icewm," while ishamael disagreed, saying, "Nah, that's AS."

Of course, there are always improvements to be made to the window managers. moss decided he wanted to "be able to move windows with my mind - no mouse." The group thought that was funny until Xerithane pointed out that this is already happening at www.biocontrol.com - and that it's Linux supported, too!

Linux.com: What process do themes go through at Themes.org before they're posted? Do you do any quality control?

Xerithane replied, "At icewm.themes.org we download the theme and run through all the options and make sure everything works. The rule of thumb is if it works it gets approved."

ishamael added, "At as.t.o, we generally download and make sure they work, or would work if we were using a stable version of AS, and then approve them."

Greg concurred. "It's about the same for all window managers - download them for testing, make sure they're not in really bad taste, and then approve them."

Linux.com: Final question - what advice do you have for someone wanting to get started in theming?

The staff agreed that one should, "Read the friendly manual." Greg added, "After that, download and try a lot of themes to see what has been done and what you like. Start by editing those themes with your own changes, and once you get the hang of things, have fun with it!"

Linux.com: We'd like to thank the Themes.org staff for being here and being so generous with their time.

Jessica Sheffield (starlady@linux.com) volunteers for Themes.org in her spare time (what's that?). She prefers Blackbox as her window manager and likes pretty much any theme designed by artwiz.

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