customizing ubuntu desktops for a group of users

Aart Koelewijn aart at
Tue Oct 28 11:27:24 UTC 2008

On Sun, 26 Oct 2008 10:49:49 -0700, Kumar Goswami wrote:

> On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 8:02 AM, Aart Koelewijn
> <aart at>wrote:
>>  On Sat, 25 Oct 2008 10:42:49 -0700, Kumar Goswami wrote:
>> Don't know if I understand your question well, but here goes: with all
>> Linuxes I know the standard home directory of a user is
>> /home/[username] . The personal configuration files off a user are in
>> the hidden files (those with a dot before the filename) in that
>> directory. If a user is added to the system in the official way (which
>> may differ for different distributions) this directory is made and
>> whatever is in /etc/skel/ is copied to it.
>> Many users prefer /home on a separate partition, but it could be on a
>> NFS mounted partition on a server.
>> When you have a great number of users you might want to use a number of
>> servers, for instance, my ISP uses /home/[letter]/username where
>> [letter] is the first letter of the username. Each /home/[letter] is a
>> separate disk (afaik) which is automatically mounted when the user logs
>> in. So, such a set-up is possible, but you will have to write your own
>> scripts when you want such a thing.
>> Aart
> Thanks!  This is very helpful.  I wasn't sure if it would be like other
> Linux systems and unix variants.  This answers the question regarding
> how to set up a home dir where a specific users files are kept.  What
> about look and feel of the desktop?  With Windows, you can move the
> icons around and arrange the look and feel of your desktop.  This info
> is stored in some windows profile and kept in Active Directory (roaming
> profiles) allowing different people to log onto the machine and yet get
> their desktop.
> Just to be sure, in your answer are you saying that these are kept in
> "dot" files inside the user's home directory?  Do you know what the
> specific files are, by any chance, that store the look and feel info?

That is right, usually the name is something like .[programname], it can 
either be a file or a directory. I hardly look at them ever because 
almost all settings can be done from the desktop menu (System > 
Preferences) and then are stored automatically
> Finally, I like what your ISP is doing .. do you know where I can find
> some help on writing these scripts? .. some documentation on the
> internet?
> Kumar
One of the main sysadmins at my provider is Miquel van Smoorenburg 
<mikevs at>. If you ask him very nicely he may be willing and able 
to point you in the right direction.


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