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security settings

Generally, I recommend using gconf-editor ~ a tool used for editing the GConf configuration database (Gnome settings). You can always edit configuration files. Many new Linux users find it difficult to use both gconf-editor and text files.

To make your life easier and to save time try out new Ubuntu Tweak software. It is designed to configure Ubuntu easily using GUI tools. It provided many useful Ubuntu desktop and system tweaking options such as:
=> View Basic System Information
=> GNOME Session Control
=> Show/Hide and Change Splash screen
=> Show/Hide desktop icons or Mounted Volumes
=> Show/Hide/Rename Computer, Home, Trash icon or Network icon
=> Tweak Metacity Window Manager's Style and Behavior
=> Compiz Fusion settings, Screen Edge Settings, Window Effects Settings, Menu Effect Settins
=> GNOME Panel Settings
=> Nautilus Settings
=> Advanced Power Management Settings
=> System Security Settings and much more

Quick Installation

$ cd /tmp; wget http://ubuntu-tweak.googlecode.com/files/ubuntu-tweak_0.2.4-ubuntu2_all.deb
$ sudo dpkg -i ubuntu-tweak_0.2.4-ubuntu2_all.deb
$ ubuntu-tweak &

Ubuntu Tweak to Change Desktop Settings
(Fig. 01: Ubuntu Tweak in Action)

Bruce Byfield has published an interesting article on Linux.com:

For years, discerning Windows users have relied on Tweak UI, a semi-official Microsoft program for system settings not available on the default desktop. Now, in the same tradition and with something of the same name, Ubuntu Tweak (UT) offers the same advantage to Ubuntu users. Currently at version 0.2.4, for now UT is limited to features for GNOME and focuses mainly on changing default desktop and system behavior and how GNOME interacts with your hardware, but this small feature set is more than enough for proof of concept.

Download Ubuntu Tweak Software

=> Grab Ubuntu Tweak here (via Linux.com).

How do you find out that somebody has accessed your system and changed your configuration or security settings? How do you verify file content? There is no simple answer to these questions. Personally, I use specialized tool such as tripwire and combination of perl / shell script, UNIX command line utilities.

Examine methods of storing and later checking the validity of your configuration files is one of the key task. This article provides some guideline. You will develop a script that you can use to generate information that checks the validity of a file or directory full of files. The recorded information includes the file path, a checksum of the file so that you can compare the file contents, and unique information about the file (inode, permissions, ownership information) so that you can identify differences should they occur:

The typical UNIX administrator has a key range of utilities, tricks, and systems he or she uses regularly to aid in the process of administration. There are key utilities, command-line chains, and scripts that are used to simplify different processes. Some of these tools come with the operating system, but a majority of the tricks come through years of experience and a desire to ease the system administrator's life. The focus of this series is on getting the most from the available tools across a range of different UNIX environments, including methods of simplifying administration in a heterogeneous environment.

=> Systems Administration Toolkit: Testing system validity