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Plain old GNOME 2 had a panel applet which displayed your user long name. It had a menu option under which you could set an image to be a login avatar, and it appeared in the gdm display manager (aka login screen). Now I'm using F17 with MATE and I don't see such an option anywhere. I believe there's some package from the MATE repository I need to have to have this functionality, but which one?

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are you using gdm 3.x ? if yes, then the account properties are managed trough the dbus service org.freedesktop.Accounts.

You can install d-feet, which is a python+gtk browser of the dbus, conect to system bus, search for the org.freedesktop.Accounts service, then the object path "/org/freedesktop/Accounts/UserXXXXX" (with XXXX your uid), interface "org.freedesktop.Accounts.User", method SetIconFile and give a path name (in "quotes") to an icon.

or with the command line tool:

dbus-send --system --dest=org.freedesktop.Accounts  \
    --type=method_call --print-reply \
    /org/freedesktop/Accounts/User$(id -u) \
    org.freedesktop.Accounts.User.SetIconFile \
    string:"/some/path/to/tour/file.png"

also, MATE people could backport the old gnome2 applet, and change it to use that dbus service (hint: copy files um-user.c and um-user.h from the gnome3 control-center and then all needed functions will be easily available)

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