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I've seen several references to 'Compiz Config' and a 'gnome config' application that seems to not be installed by default. Where do these config applications store their data? Is there a registry similar to Windows or are there just some files that I could edit by hand, if I really, really wanted to?

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Check out this answer and also qdbus --literal com.canonical.AppMenu.Registrar and then qdbus --literal com.canonical.AppMenu.Registrar /com/canonical/AppMenu/Registrar. – George Rowell Sep 29 '12 at 3:08
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The 3 most common applications you will hear about when talking about tweaking Gnome/Unity will be gconf-editor, dconf-editor and ccsm.

You can find those in the Software Center and install them from there.

The 2 first tools will configure different (sometimes not so different, think of it as a path that leads to the same goal) aspects of your Gnome configuration and the last one is important to configure your Unity/Compiz configuration.

gconf-editor stores its data in XML files in /etc/gconf/

dconf-editor uses files called key files stored in /etc/dconf/db/

ccsm stores its data in XML files in your ~/.gconf/apps/compiz and ~/.gconf/apps/compizconfig folders.

Any of these can be read and edited with a plain text editor (nano, gedit, etc.), but it sure is a lot of work. Use the appropriate tools to edit those files, and it will make your life much simpler.

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dconf stores its user settings in ~/.config/dconf/user, a binary file. gconf stores its user settings in ~/.gconf. ccsm, in ubuntu, by default, stores its settings in gconf as well (though it doesn't have to). – zanfur Nov 22 '11 at 2:59
Correct, nothing wrong there. – Bruno Pereira Nov 22 '11 at 13:09

gconf is a rough equivalent, but it's important to understand that Ubuntu and Windows are very different systems. gconf is a "registry" for Gnome, which Ubuntu is now moving away from. It does not control every aspect of the system. Much of the lower-level information is in flat text files spread throughout /etc and /usr/share/name-of-app. User-specific information, including Unity config, is often in dotfiles inside your home directory (that is, files beginning with a ".", so that they are not listed by default. Press Ctrl+H in the file browser to show them).

In summary:

  1. gconf is equivalent to the registry for many GUI issues relating to Gnome, but holds little sway over Unity-related things.

  2. Many lower level configuration settings are in flat text files in /etc and /usr/share/

  3. Much Unity config is in dotfiles in the home directory.

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There is a DBus interface com.canonical.AppMenu.Registrar that contains the desktop GUI indicator icons and associated ap interfacing details in the Unity environment as described here .

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