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A couple of notes
1) according to http://docs.jboss.com/gatein/portal/3.1.0-FINAL/reference-guide/en-US/html_single/index.html#sect-Reference_Guide-Skin_Configuration-Skin_Switching (see section 18.104.22.168) this will only allow you to specify the default skin before the server is first started. If the server has been started even once before, this will not work.
2) what happens if you change the default skin in the admin gui? does this work properly for the other users (see section 22.214.171.124 in the ref guide).
3) the skins can be cached for users, please make sure its not a browser cache issue
4) each user can specify which skin they wish to use, this might be why some of the default users have the default GateIn skin, but this wouldn't be causing the issue you see with new users (which should automatically have the portal skin).
I've just tested on GateIn product, and it works well for me. Every user, default or newly user as well, have the custom skin as default. I don't know which version you are using, I'm testing on GateIn 3.2.0-M1
Yes , your point 1 is right , If the server has been started even once before, this will not work.
I have used a fresh copy of server , edit the portal.xml for default skin and everything work fine for me also .
However , In case the server has been started once , delete the data (delete all the folders ) created by the server under the following location.
"<yourserver>\default\data" and it worked for me .
Thanks for reply
If you have already started the server and just want to change the default skin, the recommended way to do it is to just change it in the gui. It can be changed in the gui at anytime (and is probably the recommended way to set the default skin anyways).
Of course, if you need it changed before the server first starts, then you need to configure it in that xml file and that will only work the first time.