Fundamentally, which files are in control of the appearance of X?

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http://www.linuxforums.org – I'm using Ubuntu 9.10, so in order to set the fonts and themes I use the gnome-appearance-settings dialog. Then I found this tiling window manager named xmonad. At the gdm login screen, I chose xmonad instead of gnome. What I found is that in xmonad the settings I did for the fonts and theme in gnome are not respected. As far as I know, linux settings are just files. I guess appearance settings such as fonts, windows background and foreground color, shape of button are controlled by X, not by the window manager or gnome. So what files are in control of those settings? (HowTos)