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What is the difference between all of these programs? I read that some act as a back-end but I cannot find details. How are they all related and used?

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Gconf is the older Gnome configuration system, and dconf is newer. There is currently a transition from Gconf to dconf happening. See http://askubuntu.com/a/91409 for a good answer. I guess it's progress...

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Thank you, How is gsettings related to both of them? –  rubixibuc Apr 18 '12 at 0:42
    
Gsettings is the higher level API that hides the actual backend implementation. It's what most devs should use. –  Keith Apr 18 '12 at 4:50
    
so gsettings will know which you have installed and acts as an abstraction for dconf or gconf? –  rubixibuc Apr 18 '12 at 5:30

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