(Editor’s note: In this exclusive interview with Linux
Today, Themes.org founder OctobrX
talks about how Themes.org got started, what it’s about, and where
it is going.)
Linux Today: What is themes.org?
In short… Themes.org is and always will be a community spot
for “All things X”. We have virtually anything and everything one
could want (and if we don’t have it we will soon) for the X window
system (hint: its NOT Xwindows, gang).
Linux Today: Why did you decide to start
Well, we have to go back further than that question…. My life
in the computer world has been rather brief. My first computer EVER
was a p60 with 8megs of RAM. It’s a long story how I got into
Computers. I’m going to digress here and tell this story because I
think its a good one and it helps people understand where I (and a
lot of other computer users nowadays) come from.
My van was broken into in Feb of 1995 when I was on a climbing
trip with my best friend William. We got back to the van only to
find that $6,000 of climbing equipment had been stolen. I had
$2,000 left over from the insurance money after buying all new
climbing gear and I didn’t know exactly what to do with it.
Late in December ’94 my father-in-law had been telling me about
something called the Internet. Well… I had never used a computer
and thought it might be a cool thing to get started in. It has been
all downhill from there.
I ran Windows 3.1 for about 6 months (until 95 came out) and
would spend hours changing the colors and stuff. Then, I started
playing with 95, and within a year of starting to use computers had
landed a job doing tech support with MindSpring.
And that’s about when I was introduced to Linux. I thought it
was terribly ugly. I was like…, eww why would someone want to
Heh, well 3 months later, I saw something that would change my
life. a screenshot from Carsten (a.k.a., Raster). It was the most
beautiful thing I had ever seen and I immediately (I think I
actually did this with my arms extended out and pointing at it)
said, “I want to run THAT”. So I did… that was in September of
The next month would be dedicated to getting things up and
running and the only reason I kept going with it was because of the
nice people in #Linux96 (now #LinuxOS on efnet). They helped me
essentially learn Linux via IRC!
Well, after I started with Afterstep, I wanted to give people
the different themes. No one at the time was “giving away” their
setup…. (unless you knew them). I think the thing to do at the
time was to give away your .steprc file, but that was about it.
I wanted to have all the graphics and things that went with the
themes. Sooo…. I sat down one week and made up 10 to 12 Afterstep
themes. The next week I made 10 more.. the next week I made 10
more….. I just kept going. I think I had something like 40 themes
within a month’s time. And within that time, I had my personal
pages shut down by MindSpring because I was using too much
Well… this is essentially how Themes.org was “started”. It
took me almost a year and a half to realize what I wanted to do. I
was only concentrating on Afterstep at first and then on Window
Maker after the first 8 months of me using Linux. Then to E… and
back to Window Maker and back and forth. I had tried them all
basically. I knew in a short time that there needed to be a central
repository for themes for ALL window managers. This way people
wouldn’t have to dig through tons of junk to find it.
Linux Today: When did you start themes.org?
Officially, I think I thought about registering the themes.org
domain over a year ago, but… it didn’t happen until like March of
Linux Today: Who were the original founders?
Linux Today: Where do you get all your content?
Hmmm, At first, I would grab images from all over the net (in
1996 there wasn’t a good graphics program for Linux like we have
now). But then once The Gimp got to say 0.99.x, I nuked Windows off
my machine and have never looked back. Now, we have people
submitting themes from ALL over the world. Its great, and the
people that read and contribute to themes.org are really what it’s
all about now.
Linux Today: How much time does themes.org take from your
Hmmm, well, I generally spend about 3 to 6 hours a day on
Themes.org. I don’t have time at work because I’m busy working.
But, I often stay up till 2 in the morning working on this or that.
(I’ve steadily done this for over 2 years now… whew!). I require
my staff to spend at least 2 or 3 days a week on their site to make
sure things get updated.
Linux Today: How many people do you have that officially
contribute to the project?
Hmmm, well, as far as staff goes, I think I am up to what…. 16
now?? Its kinda crazy. 😉 But as I said, people from all over the
world contribute to themes.org now with themes to help make it a
Linux Today: What role do you see themes.org filling in the
Hmmm, well, it’s cool and all to have cool programs and a cool
OS that actually WORKS and doesn’t crash on you, but this is an eye
candy filled world. The different window managers like
Enlightenment, Window Maker, Blackbox, and KDE (and others :P) will
all help make it so that you can really have a clean looking
desktop and environment to use with X. So, themes, and a constant
flow of themes and associated stuff that goes with it, like Tiles,
Bars, Background images etc.. are all important to make people
“feel at home”.
Linux Today: Are you planning new features for themes.org
you can tell us about?
“I could tell you but I’d have to kill you….” 🙂 We are
thinking about a *dm.themes.org where we have a showcase of all the
different display managers that are out there. I’ve used xdm, kdm,
wdm Login.app and they are all pretty good. Someone is working on
this stuff now so hopefully it should be out soon. There is also a
secret project we have that I think will just REALLY knock the
socks off of people. 😉
Linux Today: You always ask your guests this question. Now
it’s my turn to ask you: Where do you see Linux at this time next
year? 2 years? 5 years? 10 years?
In 2 years. I think 80% of the desktops… 5 years… hard to
say. Hurd is coming up… and right now its in the “geeky” stages,
but… who knows. 10 years… Are you kidding? I don’t think people
really know what’s going to happen in 10 years. Things change soooo
fast. Just think about computers 2 years ago, and then look at what
we have now. 🙂
Linux Today: Where would you like themes.org to be next year
at this time?
I’d like for Themes.org (or Themes.net, we own both) to continue
being the central hub for themes for the different window managers
out there. My thinking is this: If we house the themes away from
the sites that have the source code etc… then what happens is
when people want to find out about a window manager, they aren’t
waiting forever while people suck down tons of themes off that
I think we have the “official themes page” status for most of
the window managers out there as it is… So I don’t see this as
being a problem.
Linux Today: Anything else that you would like to
Should I let the cat out now? I am going to work for VA
Research. Part of my job description is to work on themes.org! I’ll
do other things, but this means that I’ll be able to spend more
time on themes.org to make sure it stays up to what the people
want. We’ve expanded pretty far, and now we need to concentrate on
Quality instead of quanity. 🙂
I’d like again to tip my hat to my Staff for working hard over
the past 6 months or so. Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are
Linux Today: Themes.org is a great resource for newbies and
experienced users alike. By providing a beautiful desktop, you are
fulfilling a much needed role in the Linux community. Thank you for
talking to us!
Visit Themes.org at http://themes.org.