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How to Reset Any Changes to Your Ubuntu Computer and Add Kiosk-Mode

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You may want to prevent changes from being made on your perfectly setup Ubuntu computer, but locking down user accounts gives annoying error messages and prevents temporary changes. With Gofris, you can accomplish this without complicated hard drive imaging.

Locked-Down Changes

It takes time to get the perfect installation and setup of you computer, especially on Linux systems where virtually every aspect of the OS can be tweaked. If you’re like me, you want to keep this pristine. You could image your hard drive and restore every so often, but then you’d have to update from scratch, and it takes a lot of time. You can lock down your user accounts to prevent changes, but then you can’t make temporary ones when you need to. And these problems are where Gofris comes in.

Gofris is a tool that seamlessly locks your system down. Once enabled, it’ll remember the files in your home directory, system configurations, user interface tweaks, bookmarks, and browser sessions. After every single restart, it’ll restore it like new, but without taking time to restore from an image. At the same time, you can install software and perform system updates with those changes carrying through from restart to restart. It works well for setting up a Guest-mode for your computer, or turning your computer into a “public” kiosk.

Installation

As always, we love command-line installation.

ppa:tldm217/gofris

We need to add the above repository to install properly. Pop open a terminal and enter the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tldm217/gofris

Then update your sources:

sudo apt-get update

And finally, we can install the proper English-language package:

sudo apt-get install gofris-en

Be sure the package ends in an “-en” because the default package is in Indonesian. All done! Now, you can launch Gofris by going to Applications > System Tools > GOFRIS.

launch

If things aren’t configured just right, then now is the time to do it.

Locking and Unlocking

Click on the Gofris icon.

lock this user

You have to choice of locking the current user, another specific user, or all users. Since I’m on a multi-user system, I locked just my account. Gofris will ask for a password so enter it, and you’ll be notified that you need to restart for the changes to take effect.

And After a Restart…

Here’s a shot of before I messed up my system.

before

After a minute or so with it, it ended up looking like this:

after

And, after a quick restart, it’s back to normal:

after again

It’s that simple! When you install packages and perform system updates, you’ll be required to enter the root password and those changes will carry through. As far as your Home directory goes, though, whether you make changes with or without “sudo” things will still revert back.

When you’re ready to make changes, be careful, as all changes from this session will go through. It’s a good idea to restart before you make any changes. Click on the Gofris icon and choose “Unlock this user” to unlock. You won’t have to restart again until you lock the account.

A Natty Note

At the moment, Gofris has not been updated for Natty at the moment, and having tried it on the Beta, it doesn’t seem to work. If you’re still running Maverick or if you stuck with Lucid for the long haul, then you’re good to go. If you’re running Natty’s beta on your main system, like me, then let’s hope for a speedy update.

I’ve been using Gofris for a few weeks on a netbook I gave to my parents, who don’t really know how to use Ubuntu, and for the guest account on my primary PC, until I updated to the Natty Beta. Have a few particular uses of your own? Share them in the comments!

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 04/21/11

Comments (8)

  1. nt0xik8ed

    ubuntu needs a system restore bad. although, i thought i had read a terminal command at lifehacker on a comment which i couldn’t find. for the last few weeks i’ve been seriously trying to make linux mint work for me which means i’ve screwed it up a few hundred times. with no system restore i’ve also reinstalled mint a few hundred times.

  2. Nick

    Is there any way to do this in Windows 7? I love this feature on the public computers at the library here at school, but I want to be able to do it with my own computer. Right now I’m too protective of my computer and worried about people messing everything up

  3. Vicenarian

    @nt0xik8ed

    I’ve used a LOT of different linux distributions over the years, but I must say, OpenSUSE is my favorite by far. Beats Ubuntu,Mint,Fedora, IMHO. Much more profesionally done, and just works better in general.

  4. nt0xik8ed

    Vicenarian i have an account at open suse but rarely make a build. i like mint kde but the new version kde seems to be a complete failure in mint. i’m trying to find a complete replacement to my windows desktop and i’m surprised by the stability of linux compared to a few years ago.

  5. anontech

    For you windows users theres a program called deepfreeze that can do this

  6. Silarlen

    If you’re on WinXP, Microsoft Windows SteadyState can do similar things. SS doesn’t work on Win7, however. DeepFreeze is often used in higher education, and it works quite well.

  7. @knipknup

    Speaking of linux replacing windows… I have installed more than ten different linux distributions and am most impressed with mint (julia). This distro supported my wireless chipset right from the install. Other things work without lots of hassle, like playing movings from a dvd, etc.

    I had mint installed dual boot with windows vista and after about 1 month, I just deleted my windows partition. I haven’t looked back.

    I am excited to apply Gofris to my setup and be set. We’ll see how it goes.

  8. May

    Gofris should update frequently with more options and functions.
    Linux community should clone all the features of rollbackrx from windows.

    Long live linux!!!

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