Monday, October 13, 2014

LMT #3: Setting Up A Low-Privileged "Kids Account"

Linux Mint Tips #3: Setting Up A Low-Privileged "Kids Account"

Linux Mint Tips series is a list of tricks I've picked up after having switched away from Windows for good in 2013, after dabbling for years. I'll do my best to go back and edit posts that contain any erroneous information, but keep in mind that I'm a relative newcomer to the Linux scene. I wrote this tutorial running the MATE desktop environment in Mint 16.

One thing I ran into after setting up my Linux machine was that I needed a secondary account that my son could log into. At this point he plays web games on well known sites, under frequent supervision. One thing that's important to him is a sense of independence, so having a foolproof method to start the computer and get logged in was key.

You could potentially use the same idea if you wanted to have a guest account, or if you were setting up a machine for a friend or relative who was less computer savvy, or perhaps just your own convenience.

This left me with two goals:
  • Create a low-privileged account 
  • Make sure that account can log in automatically

Setting Up A Secondary Account
Menu->Control Center->Users and Groups.
Click the Add button.
Type a name and click OK.
Type in a password twice and click OK.

Set That Account To Log In Automatically
Menu->Control Center->Login Window
Click the Auto Login tab.
There are two options: One will log in a user automatically immediately, the other will log them in after a set amount of time. I like the timed option because it gives me the chance to log into my account instead if I'm using the machine. Here's how you do the rest:
Check the box, pick the secondary account out of the list, and if you’re using the timed option, set the number of seconds to wait before that account is auto-logged in.
The lowest possible time for this setting is 10 seconds.
Click Close.

That's it. The secondary account will now automatically be logged into when the machine starts. Low-privilege is the default setting, so there was no need to mess with the default account settings when it was created. Note that the account still has a password; I would never recommend setting up an account that lacked a password, nor would I recommend setting up automatic login on a laptop that I carried around to work or school. Furthermore, I would not recommend turning on this option on any account with high-level privileges; even though Linux Mint is good about requiring your password to do anything potentially harmful, there's no need to ask for trouble when setting up a secondary account is so easy.

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