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This is my first time posting on this forum so I hope what I am asking for makes sense.

On weekends I admin the computers in a small learning center in my city where underprivileged kids can come and use the computers for homework, research or to play learning games.

What I want to do is install Ubuntu on each of the PCs and customise it by adding the necessary drivers and 3rd party apps (such as Chrome and Steam), and then create a snapshot of the OS in this initial state and boot from the snapshot each time the computer is restarted.

The reason I want to do this is to make sure that even if the previous user tampered with the PC, the next user will always get a clean, unchanged system to work on. It will also prevent people using each others online profiles (such as Facebook or Gmail) by accident if the previous user forgot to log off, and whipe any content the previous user might have downloaded.

Does anyone have a link to a tutorial or know of how to setup a scenario like the one I described? I am pretty technically competent, just new to Ubuntu :-)

Thanks in advance for your help!

UPDATE: it looks like using the GUEST account solves 80% of the problems I have, and then using a script at startup should do the rest.

Thanks everyone for your quick responses: it looks like you have an awesome community going on here :-)

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The "Guest Session" option at the login screen is probably what you want, but note that anything saved (unless on a USB stick or similar) is wiped when they log out. I'm not sure about getting Steam to work with a guest account either. – chronitis Nov 18 '13 at 9:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

As far as I know you can reset all settings of gnome and related things but if you are talking about package management and all then I think it is difficult!

The best way is to create two accounts One as Administrator and other as Student.

Don't add this student user into any sudoers file etc.i.e don't give root access to student account So that These users will not be able to install or remove anything related to system.

If you want to clear all the settings and remove all the data from this student at the time of booting then you can write down the shell script for this and then add this shell script in startup applications.So everytime you reboot your PC this shell script will run and it will do the task! Resetting wallpapers, clearing history and cleaning the user home directory can be easily done with a shell script.

hope this helps!

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Just sign in with a guest account. Nothing is saved after you log out.

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The easy way would be using the Guest account.

The home directory for that user is completely wiped after each logout (some technical details in this answer here on AskUbuntu). Also, the Guest user has no access to system-critical settings and thus can't change anything of relevance.

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Thanks for your quick response. I assume that the Guest account is similar to the one that you get on a Windows OS, in which case it will have the same problem as that guest account where you can still change the wallpapers, look and feel and other smaller non system critical settings. I want the next user to have the PC look completely untouched. Are my assumptions correct? – Ben van Zyl Nov 18 '13 at 9:46
nope. it's totally home directory on each login. – staticd Nov 18 '13 at 10:00
Look and feel settings, like the window theme and the wallpaper, are user-specific on Ubuntu and saved in the user's home directory. Thus, resetting the home directory will reset the look and feel, too. – drc Nov 18 '13 at 10:18

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