New to Raspbian. Getting used to this cool little OS. So I can play with it from my notebook, I created a VM in Parallels using their 'Raspberry Pi Desktop' iso which pretty much mirrors Raspbian on the device.

Since it takes time to fully set everything up--changing fonts and colors, clock preferences, adding/removing apps, etc.--I'm wondering where these preference files are so I can hopefully just copy them from the VM directly onto the SD in the Pi. Saves the headache of having to re-apply everything, especially since the Pi is infinitely less powerful than my MacBook Pro.

So... how can one move the preferences from one machine to the other?


Unfortunately, there isn't a central location where all settings are stored, so this task is a lot harder than it sounds.


Your fonts should be managed by fontconfig. The possible configuration locations are noted in the article:

  • /etc/fonts/fonts.conf
  • /etc/fonts/conf.d
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/fontconfig/conf.d
  • $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/fontconfig/fonts.conf
  • ~/.fonts.conf.d
  • ~/.fonts.conf

The Debian wiki explains that you'll typically find the font files in:

/usr/local/share/fonts (system-wide), ~/.local/share/fonts (user-specific) or ~/.fonts (user-specific).

Desktop Configuration (including Digital Clock)

If you're using PIXEL, your desktop configuration will likely be in your home directory, at ~/.config/lxpanel/LXDE-pi/panels/panel.

Installed applications

You can dump a list of your installed packages with dpkg:

dpkg --get-selections > ~/installed_packages

Then, on your new Pi, you can run:

dpkg --set-selections < ~/installed_packages
apt-get dselect-upgrade


You can migrate the users of your Pi pretty easily. As noted on Server Fault, you need only copy:

  • /etc/shadow
  • /etc/passwd
  • /etc/group
  • /etc/gshadow

This is by no means a complete list. You might like to also read How to backup settings and list of installed packages on Ask Ubuntu for some ideas on how to get started, but I suspect you'll have an easier time doing at least some of the configuration again, without copying it over, simply because it's so hard to actually find every configuration file.

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    In addition, LXDE (and hence, likely PIXEL as well) uses the XDG standard for a lot of things; you'll probably find .desktop files scattered around because of this; these are a text format. You can find them with find $HOME -name '*.desktop' (those quotes are important). Of course you could always just try copying your entire home directory over. This should include all setting relevant to the user, since that is the only place applications run by that user can count on being able to write. – goldilocks Oct 27 '17 at 14:23
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    Holy !@#$ that was a great and informative answer!! You, my friend are my new Pi Hero! (I was gonna go with Pi-ro, but realized that may be read wrong! ;) BTW, I also posted another question (only two so far. Just started on this all last night) about full-screen apps with simple custom drawing. No need for a full PIXEL desktop as it will be for a read-only information appliance. Mind taking a stab at that too? Your posts are choc-full of goodies so I have to think you can help there too. – Mark A. Donohoe Oct 27 '17 at 15:04
  • @goldilocks, that's great advice as well. I didn't realize all settings were only stored in the user's directory. Wasn't sure if some may be outside in global prefs or the like. I'm just trying to keep my virtual Pi and my actual Pi in sync since I do most of my work on the virtual one since I can take it with me. Trying to ease keeping the environments in sync. Wish there was some cloud options (Dropbox, etc.) where the info could be stored/shared. Still, copying over the home folder seems viable. – Mark A. Donohoe Oct 27 '17 at 15:09
  • @MarqueIV Sure, I'll give it a look. Glad this answer helped, and if you spot anything missing after you move over to your new Pi, feel free to comment or post an answer to help anyone else who's in the same place in future. – Aurora0001 Oct 27 '17 at 15:12
  • If this is all taking place on your home LAN, you could always run some kind of "cloud" repository there, e.g. git or owncloud. One of my big pet peeves is noticing that most DE's don't all settings in a user friendly way such that they can be saved and transferred to another system. – goldilocks Oct 27 '17 at 15:43

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