"To put things short, Gconf is a system built in GNOME 2 which
stores applications' preferable configuration data as well as
graphical environment variables in its own files (think: GNOME
registry). I'd like you to get familiar with the Gconf tool's
functions, engineering, and usage with this article.
"The direct predecessor of the Gconf was Gnome-config. It was a
very simple configuration system based on INI files. Such solution
has lived up to its promises in case of small applications.
Therefore Gconf was implemented in GNOME 1.4 already, but only in
GNOME 2 it started to be used on a larger scale. Gconf's inner
structure resembles that of Windows Registry, albeit the similarity
is rather little. Only the graphical interfaces of their key
managers evince resemblance..."