As you know (if you are reading this) Ubuntu Linux was until recently saddled with, er, came with, the Unity desktop, a system of menus and such. All along it has been possible to get a Gnome version of Ubuntu, but now, Unity has been tossed out (told you so!) and Gnome is the default desktop for this distribution now. But, for people who prefer Gnome before it too jumped the shark, there is Mate (pronounced Mah teh, like the plant), which I’m pretty sure is an increasingly preferred desktop.
Anyway, if you are messing around with any of these three “flavors” of Ubuntu, you might find yourself in a situation where you’ve not just messed around but you’ve also messed up. And, maybe you want to return the distribution to its default state.
Doing so will undo whatever customization you’ve done to panels, launchers, or docs, including indicators. It will rediscover and reset the default monitor resoution settings. It will put the fonts back to what they were by default and, for some of us most dramatically, it will reset the keyboard shortcuts. Themes will be returned to default as well, including all the details of your windows and such.
Some applications will have their settings restored to default as well.
Go see this post at OMG Ubuntu for an example of before and after for someone who had tweaked the heck out of their box and reset.
This reset only affects setting stored in dconf. You can “dconf dump” to get the current settings from that place before and maybe that will suffice as a backup. Good luck with that. This should not affect other desktops you’ve got installed, or affect drviers and other deep system level stuff. Probably.
Anyway, here’s the command:
dconf reset -f /
Good luck and may the force be with you.
You can find out what dconf is and does here.