Universal themes (possible project)

David D Lowe daviddlowe.flimm at googlemail.com
Thu Mar 18 17:47:49 GMT 2010

Dear all,

I've been working on an idea of mine in my spare time for the last two
months, and I would love to be able to set aside two months of my summer
to work on it.

However, I'm not sure that the idea would meet the minimum requirements,
as it is not specific to Ubuntu. It would, however, benefit Ubuntu. I
need your feedback on this one.

I'll give a quick explanation of the idea, but you can read more here:

To quote my blog:
"The idea is a new file format called "universal theme" (or utheme, for
short), to accommodate all types of themes for your computer. Currently,
the situation on Linux is far from ideal: find a theme on gnome-look.org
or kde-look.org or wherever, and you get a .tar.gz. If you're lucky,
it's been packaged correctly and the Appearance dialog knows how to
install it. If you're new to theming, you'll just double-click a
compressed tarball and be greeted with a collection of confusing files.

This new file format aims to have the following features:

      * It's a new mime-type, so double-clicking on a file should launch
        an appropriate installer. Thumbnails are also supported.
      * Any type of theme is supported, even ones that haven't been
        thought of yet. (Themes that have to be compiled, like programs,
        are not supported. So no screensavers.)
      * Themes can be linked together in skins, or collections. They're
        just as easy to install as activate as normal universal themes.
      * Themes can be easily indexed, categorised and indexed, thanks to
        a standard format of meta-data. Meta-data includes: name,
        license, author, version number, primary colours and
        description, which can be translated.
      * Themes can specify dependencies on other themes, if required.
        (For example, some icon themes inherit from other icon themes.)"

(End of quote.)

I've already created a draft specification of the file format, which you
can download at my blog.

The summer project would include completing the specification, writing
the XML and RDF schemas (if that's the route that's taken), testing, and
creating an implementation of universal theme installation and
activation on Ubuntu (command-line implementation at least.)

All I need to know right now is if this idea is eligible for Ubuntu's
mentorship in Google summer of code. If not, could you suggest other
organisations I should head to? Should I apply to GNOME's programme, for

Thank you, 
David D Lowe
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