I have a quite tunned up gnome desktop and I would like for the guest session to share most of the user settings, this includes:

  • Gtk and Metacity themes.
  • Number of panels, placement and applets.
  • Applications that run on login.

I'm having a hard time finding where this configuration files are placed in the filesystem.

3 Answers 3


This has become much easier in 11.10.

First you need to create a folder: sudo mkdir -p /etc/guest-session/skel/. The -p switch creates /etc/guest-session so you can place /skel in it in one go. Now you just add the files you want to /etc/guest-session/skel and it will be copied onto the guest account whenever it's created.

The program that sets this up is /usr/sbin/guest-account in case you want to learn more about what's going on.

The tutorial CustomizeGuestSession elaborates on this topic. In particular it describes how you can create a "special purpose user" for a convenient way to customize the guest session appearance and behavior, without having to know which files to edit.


The guest session is recreated every time as a "default new user" with the /usr/share/gdm/guest-session/guest-session-setup.sh script, which is part of the gdm-guest-session package. I don't see any clean way to make it include your settings into the guest session.

You could of course change the way every new user's $HOME gets created, but I'm not sure that's really what you want (I won't consider it a "clean" solution to do it that way).

  • I will take a look at the script. It must take the preferences from somewhere. Thanks for the pointer
    – tutuca
    Commented Oct 26, 2010 at 22:54
  • No, it doesn't have to take the preferences from anywhere, as applications use the system-wide defaults when no user-preferences are set.
    – JanC
    Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 0:23
  • 1
    > /usr/share/gdm/guest-session/guest-session-setup.sh This script appears to no longer exist in Ubuntu 11.10. Does anyone know how to find it? I was using it to change the guest session default keyboard layout.
    – zorkerz
    Commented Oct 15, 2011 at 16:21
  • See my answer for the proper way to do it. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 0:10

Not sure.. but I've always followed the steps on this post under sections login as guest where you can customize the account. Then section freeze it where you actually setup rsync to reset the account on PC startup. You can easily modify this to reset on logout or shutdown. Been working great for me.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .