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So my situation is that I can change the relevant property for a user if I have Xorg running by xfconf-query, which is the normal way as I understand to do this, but I cannot use this command normally as my provisioner runs via SSH, thus Xorg is never started on that process and my script will error out if I execute that command.

Thus, I resorted to taking the image name I wanted, let's say "my_backdrop.png", and just copying it into /usr/share/xfce4/backdrops/ as any picture in there (for example "xubuntu-wallpaper.png". This had the desired effect of defaulting all users to my new desktop background, but I feel like there must be a better solution than this.

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/etc/skel is used to populate new users' /home/ directory with the default options you want for the user on each given system.

If you copy /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf to /etc/skel/.config/xfce4/ it should propagate to all new users you create on that machine automatically.

This will not override any pre-existing users' configuration, if that file exists on their system already.

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There is a better solution. In /etc/xdg/xfce4/xfconf/ you find the default config tree for all users. It has the same style as the tree in ~/.config/xfce4/xfconf, so you can just copy the settings you want as default in this place. Or you provide just a part of it (make sure every single file is valid XML).

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