11. Install Custom Theming

It is possible to customize the look-and-feel of your instance of Open edX, though it might not be as simple and straightforward as some might like.

The team at edX.org says that they plan to provide a more straightforward means of doing so at some point in the future.

Meanwhile, the theme known as the “Stanford-Online edX Theme” is available, and is said to provide some facility whereby one can more easily customize the learning management system (LMS) of Open edX.


The content management system (CMS) Studio look-and-feel will not affected by this customization.

The Process

  1. Log into the Ubuntu instance, using the vagrant User ID (the ID and password are each vagrant).

  2. Modify the lms.env.json file that can be found in the /edx/app/edxapp directory. You can do so with the character-based editor nano, using the following command:

    sudo nano /edx/app/edxapp/lms.env.json

  3. In the json file, change “USE_CUSTOM_THEME”: false to “USE_CUSTOM_THEME”: true

  4. Also change “THEME_NAME”: “” to “THEME_NAME”: “default”

  5. Save the file, using CTRL O.

  6. Close the file using CTRL X.

  7. Become the edxapp user, by executing the following line:

    sudo su edxapp -s /bin/bash

  8. Execute the following lines:

    cd ~

    source edxapp_env

  9. Create a directory for the theme and then download the Stanford theme from github into that directory:

    mkdir themes

    cd themes

    git clone https://github.com/Stanford-Online/edx-theme.git default

  10. Recompile the edX assets:

    cd /edx/app/edxapp/edx-platform

    paver update_assets lms - -settings=aws

    NB. The above command has two “-” in front of settings, with no space between the two dashes.

Upon successfully completing the above steps, you will see the Stanford Theme upon restarting the web server.