Q

Roaming profiles for Linux users

In the Windows environment you can have a roaming profile. This means my profile is stored on a server along with my profile on the local client. This is useful for persons who don't have a dedicated PC. A user may log onto any PC with their account and maintain a personalized environment with their desktop preferences and settings intact. Is something like this a standard possibility with GNOME or KDE?

I am not aware of a standard way to create a Linux roaming profile and certainly as productized as it is under

Windows. However, you could use a login and logout script to synchronize or remotely mount your home directory to a central server when you access a machine though this isn't ideal.

You may find that Novell's Zenworks in conjunction with their Novell Linux Desktop has some roaming profile capacity.

I also found this recipe at LinuxSelfHelp for creating roaming profiles but it doesn't quite hit all the same points as Microsoft. Another utility called QuickSwitch helps with roaming network profiles for laptop users but once again this isn't quite what you would expect with regards to a roaming profile.

Another option you may want to consider is a thin client setup. In this situation, the user session completely lives on the server. When users log in they not only get their settings and data but their applications as well. All data and operating system components reside on the server and are then redisplayed back to the user terminal. This is a great way to address transient users since they can bring their whole desktop environment to any network connected terminal though there is limited support for peripherals. You might want to look at the Linux Terminal Server Project which is a good example of how to implement thin client computing under Linux.

This was first published in October 2005

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