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In particular, I want to set the mouse tracking speed. But I'd rather have a generic answer.

I don't need access to the System Preferences UI, I'm fine with using defaults.

I guess Login Window runs as root, right? What preferences files are looked up for it?

update

I had some partial luck with:

sudo -s
cp ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist          /Library/Preferences/
cp ~/Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist          /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/
cp ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost/.GlobalPreferences.*.plist /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ByHost/

By which I mean, I was able to notice the following effects:

  • the color scheme switched to graphite. (and the button is still blue #applefail LOL)
  • the display color profile is now correct in the login window (yay)

But no luck with fixing the mouse tracking.

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I want "Tap to click" and "tab between all controls" enabled. – Doug Harris Aug 23 '10 at 19:52
    
I guess we can just copy our entire .GlobalPreferences.plist over the root's. Which I don't know where is. – kch Aug 23 '10 at 19:56
    
How about /Library/Preferences/.GlobalPreferences.plist ? – Doug Harris Aug 23 '10 at 20:00
    
Nop, that doesn't affect the login window. – kch Aug 23 '10 at 20:17
    
More interestingly, changing the one in /private/var/root/Library/Preferences/ didn't work either. – kch Aug 23 '10 at 20:34

Try changing the values in /System/Library/LoginPlugins/BezelServices.loginPlugin/Contents/PlugIns/AppleHIDMouse.plist. For example, tracking speed looks to be set up by one of these PreferenceDefaults values:

<key>ScrollH</key>
<integer>1</integer>
<key>ScrollS</key>
<integer>4</integer>
<key>ScrollSSize</key>
<integer>30</integer>
<key>ScrollV</key>
<integer>1</integer>
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