What is dconf, what is its function, and how do I use it?
Mark Shuttleworth recently blogged about the decision to include the Qt libraries in the 11.10 release, with a followup from Jono Bacon. Mark states that the biggest challenge to integrating apps written in Qt into the larger Ubuntu system is Qt's current non-compatibility with dconf.
What is dconf, and what is the role it plays in Ubuntu?
- 8 years ago
As other answers on this site discuss
dconftogether, I will just concentrate on discussing command-line tools such as
gsettingsand the gui
dconf-editorthat are used to access the
At the GNOME official site it is noted that
dconf is a low-level configuration system. Its main purpose is to provide a backend to GSettings on platforms that don't already have configuration storage systems.
dconf is a simple key-based configuration system. Keys exist in an unstructured database (but it is intended that keys that logically belong together are grouped together).
Having all of the keys in a single compact binary format also avoids the intense fragmentation problems currently experienced by the tree-of-directories-of-xml-files approach.
dconf is optimised for reads. Typically, reading a key from dconf involves zero system calls and zero context switches. Writes are less optimised -- they traverse the bus and are handled by a "writer" -- a DBus service -- in the ordinary way.
gsettingsto view and change settings
Once one gets to know
gsettingsit can be as easy as the gui
dconf-editor. The options can be listed by entering
man gsettingsor going to the Ubuntu manpages online.
NOTE: As everyone's system has different programs installed, you may have to substitute the specific items I choose for different ones when experimenting yourself, as I am using XUbuntu XFce with quite a lot of GNOME programs.
To list all the available schemas, enter
To also include all the keys, enter
However, it is usually easier to specify what you want with, for examples,
gsettings list-schemas | grep -i shotwell
This returns a long list; I have shortened it to:
org.yorba.shotwell org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.ui org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.slideshow org.yorba.shotwell.plugins.enable-state org.yorba.shotwell.printing org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.editing org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.files
Now when you have found the schema that you are interested in, list the keys with
gsettings list-keys org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.ui
This returns a list (again I have shortened it):
background-color display-basic-properties display-extended-properties display-photo-ratings display-photo-tags display-photo-titles event-photos-sort-ascending event-photos-sort-by
Pick one and see what the current value is with
gsettings get org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.ui display-photo-tags
This returns a value of true, so to reverse it, use
gsettings set org.yorba.shotwell.preferences.ui display-photo-tags false
These are trivial examples, but show basically how keys and values are identified and changed with
Using dconf-editor to change settings
sudo apt-get install dconf-tools
Then run it by entering in the terminal or in the quick launch menu,
As you can see in the screenshot, all the various schemas can be expanded on the left hand side and the appropriate key selected. It is very straightforward to navigate to the value you want (in this case the
gnome-mplayerpreferences). You can click the check box to have a value activated or add a numerical value into one of the other boxes. You can also search within dconf editor with Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut.
You can also add another log say to
log-viewerby adding a path in the form ['/var/log/auth.log', var....'] in the screenshot below.
There are many other useful ways that you can tweak settings with both
dconf-editorand they are straightforward to use. It is worth looking through them to see if there are options there that are not in the programs' preferences, as you may be able to customize your program just the way you want. As fossfreedom recently showed in this question
knowing how to use
dconf-editoris extremely valuable. See also:
Since the programs `gsettings` and `dconf-editor` work both on the `dconf` database, why don't they show the same information? `gsetting` on 12.04 shows values for the schema `com.canonical.Unity.Launcher` and the key `favorites` but `dconf-editor` does not even offer `com.canonical.Unity` let alone the full schema or the key.
@A.H. I'm sorry that I forgot to answer your comment: I can't comment on Unity because I'm on Xubuntu, but Flimm has asked a separate question which should get some good answers.
For those coming from windows that want a simple reply, dconf is the gnome equivalent to the windows registry... a big binary tree where any program can store and share their configuration.
They first migrated from the traditional unix configs (one text files for each app, each with their own format) to a standard tree of XML files, managed by gconf. In recent times, as almost no one edited those XML files directly and the performance problems of reading and parsing MANY files, they migrated to a binary format by migrating from gconf to dconf.
Unlike windows registry, dconf should have all config entries listed, even if they are set to the default values. So there are no hidden entries, you can change then or reset then to default easily.
dconf is not Ubuntu specific, it's the GNOME technology used to store application settings. For more details please read http://live.gnome.org/dconf
dconf is the GNOME3 replacement for gconf which has not been maintained for some time. dconf is also expected to bring performance improvements over gconf (relevant for applications startup).