Provide sane defaults to maximize the usability and utility of the guest session

Registered by ethanay

It is great that Ubuntu now offers guest sessions by default. However, there are several issues that derive from the fact that the guest session is still, at its heart, a temporary account created from default settings meant for a permanent account. Either we need to identify and change each of these issues (would this be a futile game of whack-a-mole?) or we need to change how guest sessions are created with a set of standards that create a sane automation process.


The tutorial may provide solutions that can be applied as default behaviour in lightdm.

Can we change how guest accounts are created to take care of several bugs at the front end?

Are there scripts that need to be written to change program defaults of often-used guest session programs to something that is sane for a guest session?

What are the most often used guest session programs?

For relevant preferences, maybe a simple one page configuration widget that someone can easily bypass?


Ubuntu deletes the user's data at log-out time. Warning when this is about to happen (bug #1270788) is the very LEAST we should do.

Warning at log-in time alone (bug #435930) is totally insufficient. The user who logs out may not be the one who launched it, and may not be the guest who saved some work in that session, and/or the user may not have paid attention to the warning or remembered it. Some use cases of this nature:

  * Permanent user Anne offers the computer to her guest Barry, launching a guest session and saying "You can use this computer: you don't need to save anything, do you?". Barry doesn't see the log-in warning and doesn't ask what the exact terms of this guest session are. Barry does some work, saves some data. Barry decides to take a break and logs out, saying "Here, you can have it back for a bit, I'll finish this later". Barry doesn't even realize that Ubuntu has now deleted his work.

  * Permanent user Anne is logged in but away from the keyboard. Barry asks to use the computer and Anne says "Sure." Barry opens a guest session, sees the warning, works, saves work, and walks away leaving the computer logged in, intending to come back to it soon, knowing that his work will be lost if he logs out or maybe not knowing. Then Anne comes along and logs out the guest session. Anne has only been using Ubuntu a few weeks and doesn't know about this gotcha. Barry's work is lost, and Anne won't even know until Barry comes back.


Work Items

Work items:
[gunnarhj] Warn users at startup about data deletion (see tutorial; see bug #435930): DONE
Warn user at log-out about data deletion (see bug #1270788): TODO

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