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In Ubuntu, one can create a temporary guest account that is deleted at logout. However, one can only do this by logging in as a real user first. Is there any way to allow a person to log in to the temporary guest account directly from the login screen?

Yes, I understand the security implications of doing this.

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This sounds like you want to set up a system where anyone can login (or work without logging in), but where nothing is saved, and the user is prevented from changing anything. Is that correct?

That is commonly called "kiosk mode".

There is no completely out-of-the-box solution for Ubuntu, AFAIK, partly because the exact requirements can vary. But there are many solutions; see e.g.

http://superuser.com/questions/54199/can-i-get-linux-into-party-kiosk-mode-like-status

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Well, sort of. But I also want my normal account for myself. –  Ryan Thompson Jul 31 '10 at 14:04
    
Most kiosk-mode implementations that I have seen work by using accounts with special properties. You can still create regular accounts to go along with them. –  sleske Sep 20 '10 at 9:50

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