Chapter 1. Configuration
Overview: The GConf System
The GConf system is one of the
primary means to configure the users' desktops, therefore a brief
overview of this system is provided below.
Many configurable quantities are accessible via key/value pairs using the graphical GConf editor tool. This tool is available from the
command-line using the command /usr/bin/gconf-editor, or, more simply by typing
gconf-editor in a terminal. The GConf editor is also available through (the main menu on the panel) =>
For more detailed information on GConf
Editor, refer to the Configuration Editor
Manual through (the main
menu on the panel) => , and by
selecting the Applications Category, then
the Utilities Category, and finally, by
selecting the Configuration Editor Manual
Figure 1-1. The GConf Editor
The following provides background material that the
administrator may find useful, especially when saving current
Readers might first wish to refer to the GConf section of the GNOME
Desktop System Administration Guide available through (the main menu on the panel) =>
, and by selecting the Desktop Category, selecting the System Administration Guide Document, and reading
the chapter titled Using GConf, and also
the GConf project page located on the web at https://www.gnome.org/projects/gconf/ before continuing.
Specifically, the use of gconftool-2 to
load and dump
preference settings is not discussed in depth in this document, but
is detailed in the GNOME Guide.
GConf stores preferences data in a
set of configuration sources. The sources
used, their properties, and the order in which they are used by
GConf is defined in the /etc/gconf/2/path file.
Each configuration source entry has three parts:
- Storage Backend Identifier
The only commonly used configuration backend is the XML backend whose identifier is xml.
- Configuration Source Flags
A comma separated list of flags which is interpreted by the
storage backend. The XML backend recognizes two flags - readonly and readwrite
which determine whether the configuration source is writable.
- Storage Location
The location in which the storage backend should store the
preferences data. The exact meaning of this storage location
depends on the storage backend in use. With the XML backend, the
location is the path to a filesystem directory.
By default there is a Mandatory Source,
a User Source and a Defaults Source. They are:
The order of the configuration sources is intentional. If a key
is set in the Mandatory Source and the Defaults Source, then the
value in the Mandatory Source takes precedence. Therefore, by
setting the value of a key in the Mandatory Source, users will not
be able to modify that key.
The default GConf path file also
includes a number of other path files if they exist. The /etc/gconf/2/path file allows administrators to
define new configuration sources and include them in the set of
configuration sources used by GConf. The
configuration sources specified in the path file are included before the standard Defaults
One final item of note is that the storage location specifier
for a source may also reference the value of environmental
variables. For example, the standard User Source is defined as
Environmental variables may be defined as follows:
The user's home directory.
The user's username.
Any other environmental variable may be referenced by prefixing
the environmental variables name with ENV_.