Monthly Archives: May 2010

Standardized gconf settings for Fedora 13

Desktop background for our computer systemsOver the past couple of weeks I’ve been putting together a Fedora 13 image to replace the Fedora 11 image we’re currently using in the school. One of the things I’ve been working on since we deployed Fedora 10 a couple of years ago is storing school-wide configuration in RPMs that can be easily updated with a new release.

One of these RPMs contains default gconf settings (SRPM) for things like the school proxy server, default icons to show up on the panel when a user logs in, keyboard layouts (our keyboards are dual English/Arabic), fonts, and now, with Fedora 13, default favorites for gnome-shell.

These gconf settings are stored in a location where they won’t conflict with the defaults set by applications but will automatically have a higher precedence.

A second RPM enforces mandatory gconf settings (SRPM) by using a small bash script that runs on bootup to take the combined defaults for specified keys and make them mandatory. This allows me to set things like /system/proxy and /system/http_proxy and not worry that somebody’s going to accidentally change it, messing up their Internet access.

It also gives me the freedom to change some things, like the background image, from mandatory for lab computers to default for school administration computers just by removing the key names from an easily editable configuration file.

Finally, I have a few packages with gconf settings for compiz. The idea is that if the computer can’t support compiz, you don’t install any of the packages and are stuck with metacity (VIA, I’m looking at you). If it’s one of our seven-year-old nvidia cards that barely supports compiz, you install the minimal effects package (SRPM) which will just have the cube and a few other simple odds and ends. If the computer is one of our year-old Intel desktops, you get a lot more bling (SRPM). And now, as an alternative to either of the compiz options, there’s a package that has gnome-shell by default (SRPM).

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the required background image (SRPM). As is pretty obvious if you look at it (it’s also at the top of this post), I take the default Fedora background from here (CC-BY-SA) and add the school logo. I’m quite happy with how it turned out this time.

Update 7/30/2010: As mentioned in my more recent blog post Better Building, all the packages we use in our school are available from


The Humble Indie Bundle

I’m not sure how many have seen this, but a bunch of independent video game developers have put together a fundraiser for the EFF and Childsplay charity. Basically, you specify how much you’re willing to pay for a set of five (though it seems to have gone up to six now) video games, and how you want the money to be divided between the developers and the charities. The fundraiser finishes in two days.

The best part is that the games are cross-platform and work natively under Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. My personal favorite is World of Goo, but all of the games have their strong points.

All of the games work under Fedora 13 (x86_64), though a couple of them needed a bit of finessing to get them to run. There seems to be some weird issues with the bundled SDL libraries, so I just removed all of the bundled libraries and installed the corresponding Fedora libraries.

I’m just glad that there are game developers out there that are focusing on Linux.