Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

We are planning to install 80 ubuntu desktops in a college. The management told us to harden the ubuntu desktop as much as possible, like the user should not able to customize system settings for example changing wallpapers, themes etc etc..Could you all pls share your points in hardening a ubuntu system? So that it will be helpful for me to build a good desktop system. Thanks in advance

Tasks to be done:

  • Restrict users changing wallpapers & themes
  • Restrict users adding / deleting system panels.
  • Restrict users installing / deleting packages.
  • Disable USB storage devices.
  • Displaying IP address of the system in the background of system wallpaper in bold in right bottom.
share|improve this question
In its current form, this question appears to be answerable. Please elaborate in more detail so we can help you. – James Feb 10 '12 at 17:46
Yes. Definitely need to know what applications you have to support. Kiosk mode would be a good base to look at. Here's an instructable: – RobotHumans Feb 10 '12 at 17:53
I would suggest kiosk mode (there are topics about that on AU. Also have a look a gofris: (you can reset your session to default with this). – Rinzwind Feb 10 '12 at 18:03
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Some general points:

  • Gnome3 (Ubuntu 11.10 and later - Unity is based on Gnome) uses dconf to store its settings. See the "Lockdown" section in the dconf System Administrator Guide for how to lock settings so that the users can't change them.

    Use dconf-editor (package dconf-tools) to see what options are there.

  • For Gnome2 (up to Ubuntu 11.04) there's the Desktop Administrators' Guide to GNOME Lockdown and Preconfiguration.

    In Gnome3 most of the configuration option described there aren't used any more, but as some programs (like Compiz) still use Gnome2's GConf the "Enabling Lockdown" section may still be relevant.

    Use gconf-editor to see what options are stored in GConf.

  • Have a look at PolicyKit and AppArmor for some more general way of to to grant and revoke privileges to/from users and programs

To disable USB storage devices blacklisting the usb_storage kernel module should do the trick, see the modprobe.conf manpage for how to do that.

share|improve this answer
Can someone eloborate this answer pls ? – karthick87 Jun 16 '12 at 2:32
Which version of Ubuntu and which desktop environment are you using? – Florian Diesch Jun 16 '12 at 3:01
Ubuntu 10.10............ – karthick87 Jun 16 '12 at 14:28

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.