Guest sessions in 18.04 LTS - are they needed?

I almost never used guest account, if I needed to allow other people to use my laptop I would create a user with no sudo rights and no access to anything outside their home folder. As some people still use it I think it would be good if guest user can be enabled via System Settings for those that need it. Also the guest user should not be able to read anything outside their home folder.

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Hi, there are two common themes for guest-sessions and I used them both, and kinda miss them deerly

I have never cared for the feature, but I’m biased because I had to work with maintaining the AppArmor bits. While I understand the feature and how it is plausibly convenient for some use cases, I never personally had a use for it. The few times I used the feature for testing something outside of my main session, I never had confidence that the testing environment was authentic enough to trust and I always ended up creating a test user and logged in with that user instead.

I use the Guest session in 16.04 (I only use LTS releases). I use it so that I can safely hand out my laptop to visitors without worrying that they’ll break my machine or leave the SSD full of crud. Sometimes I also want my children to use my desktop workstation without worrying that they’ll mess something up. I also have a couple of old spare laptops that I can safely lend to friends on a longer-term basis; again they use the Guest account (“Andrew, my Macbook broke, have you got a spare laptop I can borrow for a fortnight?” “Sure…”)

Typically the guests will browse to a website and, occasionally, print something out, usually a web page or a PDF. Very occasionally they will want to open an MS-Word document in LibreOffice and perhaps print that. Also very occasionally they will want to access a document, MP3 or video on a USB stick, and perhaps copy that data to another removable storage device.

I find it annoying that it is difficult to customise the Guest account, for instance to remove some icons from the sidebar so that they don’t confuse newbie visitors, or to start the web browser automatically. I did once write a script so that root could zip up a Visitor (not guest) user home directory, which would then be cleared down and unzipped by /etc/gdm/PostLogin/Default each time Visitor logged in. I then set an empty password (no password) for the Visitor user and disabled the Guest login, so that GDM showed only my login and Visitor as options. This allowed me to customise Visitor’s desktop, safe in the knowledge that it would be reset to my preferences at each login, but without changing the defaults so it didn’t affect any new normal users I might create.

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Maybe I am not your target audience, but I was disappointed when I learned that Kubuntu lost that function when migrating from LightDM to SDDM. My use cases for LightDM Guest Sessions:

  • Slightly creepy sites like Facebook.
  • All credit card transactions.
  • Visitors who wanted to check their webmail, etc.

Note for electronic banking or investments, I still preferred a live USB without persistence.

I favor guest-session, why :

1> Sharing of my Ubuntu laptop in office is easier as I can switch to guest-session and not have to worry about my passwords/files/personal-data being tampered with.

That’s about it.

Yes, for people who extensively share their laptops with others an option can be included in menu to turn guest-session on and the default for everyone can be off. Because I only occasionally share my laptop and need guest-session during office hours only.

I’ve used a guest session a total of maybe 2 times in all the years I’ve been using computers, not just Ubuntu but ANY computer. It’s handy to have when you need it but there are myriad ways to create an alternative that it’s not a big deal if it were to disappear. . .

Not really. Honestly, if I ever needed to use a guest session, I’d prefer if I just make it myself and customize it myself.

Everyone on my house uses it every time someone else (guests) needs to use the computer. but it would be great to be able to customise it’s initial settings… to avoid microscopic fonts on 4k displays for example

Popey pretty much summed up how I feel about Guest sessions.

I used it for let other people use my laptop from time to time and for simplify the setup in small seminars.
I only use LTSs, I didn’t even know that the feature was removed :frowning:

Never used it. Won’t miss it if it goes away.

Thanks.

yes, this and bring back simple ways to remote log in. extra steps in 17.10 were confusing compared to 17.04 and below.

I have used it each time a child wants to use my computer (games, internet…), and more generally a guest :wink: It’s faster than create an account…

We use it for myth boxes a lot for guests who are at a party to quickly look up something on the web etc. without needing an account. It is also useful to run the kodi front-end with minimal privileges.

Provide more details from the LightDM side on what exactly the maintenance burden is. So many people here saying “I don’t need it so get rid of it!” - this applies to 95% of available packages. Even with niche usage if it’s not a big technical burden then there’s no reason to can it.

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Two major use cases for me.

  1. Like others have said, when someone uses my laptop I use a Guest session. This happens more often than you’d think since I travel a lot and do a lot of conferences, I’m sometimes the only one with a laptop handy when someone needs it, or whose laptop works with the projectors easily and doesn’t need converter dongles.

  2. For the non-profit I’m part of we use guest sessions exclusively for the labs we put in low-income housing facilities. These are shared computers and need to be easy for the residents to use and their data wiped when they log out for privacy. We’ve long-valued the ease of which guest sessions in Ubuntu make it for us to install fairly pristine versions of Ubuntu (or a flavor), and would likely have to switch to a more kiosk-friendly distribution if this feature went away.

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My friend is running several small pubs and he offers free access to the internet by using PC. I suggested to him and he is now using (an old version of Ubuntu still supporting guest sessions) to spare the money on buying Windows licenses (for small pubs this is important, because state officials are constantly checking small pubs). Another equally important thing (related to guess session) is pub’s users can download something, can watch some web sites etc and can leave all sort of data on PC. Logging off after user finishes cleans everything after the user, so next user can’t spy on previous one, state inspector can’t find anything inappropriate on PC etc. Maintaining system with guest sessions is way much simpler then requiring to create a new account after each user finish working. Actually guest session is must…

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Why kill a such useful feature that Windows 10 doesn’t have anymore ? Why remove all the advantages of a Desktop Linux or an Ubuntu Desktop Session have ? I Don’t often use this feature but I’m glad it has existed when friends of mine were using my computer during my studies. And it’s a really useful feature for public places with computer in free access, like in some French University where I see post using a guest Ubuntu session. It will be a big mistake to think it’s not required anymore.

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