MATE Desktop Lockdown

With my transition of updating from Slackware 14.1 to 14.2, I wanted to use the MATE desktop on my living room media player. I treat that computer as an appliance. I want to avoid inadvertent configuration changes. This requires locking the desktop.

Generally the desktop is accessed with a remote control through LIRC. Only three apps are accessible on the desktop: XBMC, a web browser, and a music player. I prefer a dedicated music player to XBMC for listening to music. Access to a web browser requires a mouse and keyboard.

I wanted to configure the following:

  • One work space.
  • Allow logging out and powering down.
  • Disable locking the screen.
  • No panel menu.
  • No access to a terminal or file manager.
  • Limit app access to those populated in the panel.
  • Disable most keyboard shortcuts.
  • No desktop context menu.
  • No panel context menu.

Providing a locked desktop was straightforward. There are no pointy-clicky interfaces. All of the lockdown features must be configured manually through dconf-editor.

  • org/mate/desktop/lockdown (all but disable-log-out)
  • org/mate/desktop/background/show-desktop-icons
  • org/mate/panel/general/locked-down

Disabling show-desktop-icons is a sledge hammer but that is the only option that disables the desktop contect menu.

Support for disabling panel menus is incomplete. The panel context menu still shows Help and About Panels.

There is a point where everything is locked and there is no easy configuration access. In my case I did not remove the Alt+F2 shortcut until after testing. The shortcut provided a way to launch dconf-editor or the mate-control-center. An alternate approach might seem to be leaving the menu button in the panel, but after the menu button is removed, there is no way to reposition the panel objects without unlocking each object.

There is a chance that after disabling Alt+F2 additional changes are desired. To prepare for that, I logged out of the MATE session, made a backup of ~/.config/dconf/user to ~/.config/dconf/user-with-alt-f2. Then logged in and disabled the keyboard shortcut. Temporarily restoring the dconf backup copy allows me to tinker until satisfied.

Posted: Category: Usability Tagged: MATE

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