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Making Users Feel More At Home By Altering the Home Directory Template

By default, a network home directory contains the same items as a home directory of a local user on a Mac OS X workstation. However, you can customize the items created in home directories to include additional folders and files, to remove the default folders and files, and to apply specific permissions to any of the folders and files within a new home directory. All this is accomplished by modifying the home directory template. Be aware that changes to the home directory template will affect all home directories created after the changes are made but will not affect any pre-existing home directories.

The home directory templates (there is one for each language that Mac OS X Server supports, even if you did not install localized language support when you installed Mac OS X Server) is located in the /System/Library/User Template/ directory on the server’s startup drive. Presuming that you are working with English language workstations and users, the template is the folder named English.lproj (other languages are similarly named, based on the language). When you open this folder, you’ll see that it has the same items with the same permissions as a typical user folder. You can change anything you like within this folder, but I strongly suggest that you make a backup copy of the original before making any changes.

If you do make changes to the permissions of any items in the template folder, you should be aware that using the Repair Permissions command in Disk Utility will reset these permissions to their defaults. You should, of course, also be wary about making changes in the Library folder because Mac OS X system information and settings are typically stored here. Also as discussed earlier, you can create a Library automount to effectively add Library items to all users within a shared domain.

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