Helping newcomers better (Re: Improving Access to Themes etc.)

Vesa Paatero vpaatero at
Mon Jan 21 22:20:12 UTC 2013

19.01.2013 00:08, Jordon Bedwell wrote:
> On Fri, Jan 18, 2013 at 4:02 PM, Vesa Paatero <vpaatero at> wrote:
>>     By using the normal settings programs to configure the desktop, I could
>> only see four themes to select from, two of which were high-contrast themes
>> and the other two being Ubuntu themes with orange activation colors. So, the
>> choices we narrow, there were not really
>> any different styles to select from.
> Do you make the same complaints to Apple and Microsoft?

Mind you, Linux has an emphasis on freedom, when you compare it to 
commercial systems. And making the benefits of freedom accessible to the 
common "non-nerd" user is the forte of Ubuntu. (And hey, why not do 
better than the commercial systems, anyway, when possible.)
      In fact, I recently did a comparable desktop customization to a 
computer running Windows Vista. After I found a classic mode of some 
sort of and a suitable background image I was actually rather pleased.

>> It seems that crux of the matter is not so much a lack of themes because
>> there are some themes available in the repositories (using e.g. Synaptic)
>> and a lot more on some GTK or Gnome-related web pages. It is more about how
>> to make the themes accessible to Ubuntu users, especially
>> new users some of which might just go away if they can't change the default
>> color scheme reasonably soon.
>> What I suggest is adding some theme packs to Ubuntu Software Centre.
>> It already has a category called something like "Themes and Customizations",
>> but it seems not to contain any packages with desktop themes.
>>          Another possibility would be to add some sort of "Welcome to Ubuntu"
>> window when you first boot Ubuntu, giving helpful links to some basic things
>> such as setting your default browser, finding the applications you want and
>> changing your desktop theme.
> There are already tons of themes in the repository here is a quick grep:
> murrine-themes
> gtk-clearlooks-gperfection2-theme
> gtk-smooth-themes
> Not to mention
> It's simple to install a theme on Linux, open up your home folder,
> create a .theme folder and start adding themes and then select them
> from the theme selector.
Yes, there are themes... but in composing that reply you employed a 
significant amount of implicit and explicit know-how that a new user 
does not necessarily have: (1) Realizing that what you see is not all 
there is and (2) where to look for the others, (3) using "unity" as a 
keyword in search to get the themes with best compatibility, (4) putting 
themes into the .theme folder...

To take this discussion to the general question of how to better help 
     When I first began with an Edubuntu installation, it took some time 
even to learn that Synaptic exists and is the right tool for general 
access to all that the repositories hold. At first I only used what was 
available from Ubuntu Software Centre because no-one had told me about 
alternatives and USC held a more prominent place in the menus... :-/
    ( Admittedly, Ubuntu Software Centre nowadays has capabilities 
beyond Synaptic because it is the doorway to those paid-for software 
packages. )

So, I think what newcomers need is something that brings before them the 
fundamental keys or "handles" to further information when needed. 
Synaptic I already mentioned, then the forums (and perhaps 
if that is good) might be another thing worth mentioning, perhaps with 
some to-the-point ideas about how to search the forums efficiently.

Admittedly, when a newcomer is already in the habit of looking for 
everything via search engines, that will help a lot in discovering the 
other things. Still, explicit pointers to sources of information are a 
good thing, why not.


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