As questions continue to come in every day, a 'burning issue' becomes more and more urgent to tackle. When it comes to modify some system settings not modifiable from Switchboard, several users here are inclined to point to elementary tweaks as the most user-friendly solution.

While it is quite understood that tweaks is no longer maintained and thus potentially unstable if not downright dangerous for the system, it seems that 'it just works' for most users and so it is still often recommended. We also know how the devs (Daniel in particular) have been openly against the use of tweaks, both because of its design inconsistencies and of the breakage in the UI it can cause. So the question is: should we decide here a best practice to follow when it comes to said scenario? Like, recommend recurring to dconf and never mention elementary tweaks? I'm with Daniel on this, FWIW.


3 Answers 3


Personally, I'd recommend the following (in this order as fallbacks):

  1. System Settings. If it can be done here, no need to recommend installing another tool.
  2. Dconf editor. If it can't be done in system settings, I think this should be the recommended graphical tool. One major benefit is that dconf keys come with descriptions. Some of these descriptions explain side effects of these settings and explain why they aren't exposed in System Settings.
  3. Scratch. If it can't be done with Dconf, it's probably a key file.
  4. Terminal. This should be a last resort, imo. I don't think we should encourage users to paste terminal commands from the internet. This is potentially dangerous conditioning.

Purely technical reasons I don't like tweaks:

  1. From a user safety perspective, I think there's a huge disqualifying issue that other tools don't have: You need a PPA to install it. PPAs are dangerous things. They can provide packages that may break or infect your system.
  2. It is no longer maintained and can become outdated. This actually happened between Luna and Freya. Settings are hardcoded here. If they are changed in the system or apps, this app has to be updated to accommodate. System Settings is maintained by elementary, dconf just reads keys so it doesn't need maintenance.

Design reasons I don't like tweaks:

  1. It exposes potentially dangerous settings in a "friendly" way. Most 3rd party stylesheets and icon themes are incompatible in some way and end up causing issues. Whether that's missing images or just weird broken looking things or widgets that are entirely unthemed.
  2. It breaks the logic of System Settings. It's a bunch of unrelated things lumped together. Keyboard settings should be in keyboard. Display settings in display. Desktop settings in Desktop. I remember for quite a while trying to convince the old maintainer to please submit his keyboard shortcut stuff as a merge request for the keyboard plug.

I don't think tweaks should be banned. Okay, it could be dangerous. I don't know how dangerous, or what the chances are of this but I doubt it's especially high.

I think this is a case for community voting. If you don't like an answer (for any reason, including use of tweaks) then vote it down.

If there is an alternative dconf / gsettings answer then vote it up. I don't think there is any need for an active ban on this program.

  • 1
    I'm with you on this.
    – RolandiXor
    Commented Jul 12, 2015 at 2:55

Voting an answer up/down won't work if most of the users see that the answer using Tweaks works. They will most likely be back here (or at Google+) after Tweaks breaks something, asking how to fix it.

Actively discouraging its use (there's no "banning" in SE) should be the default behavior.

A simple "Tweaks is not longer maintained and its usage discouraged by the devs, please answer using dconf instead" should be enough.

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