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I don't think there's a gconf key for this, but you could always just set the permissions on each user's ~/.gnome-desktop directory to read-only. They'll still be able to re-arrange the icons, but not add or delete any.
It's also possible that the [JDS Configuration Manager|http://docs.sun.com/app/docs/coll/1221.1?l=en] would provide you an easier way to do this, but I forget if it specifically allows you to lock down desktop icons.
Edited by: Calum on Jan 29, 2009 4:29 AM
Edited by: Calum on Jan 29, 2009 4:33 AM
I don't really have any practical experience with JDS Configuration Manager myself, so I can't give you much assistance I'm afraid.
If the [installation and administration guides|http://docs.sun.com/app/docs/coll/1221.1?l=en] aren't enough help, I'd suggest asking for assistance on the [APOC Mailing List|http://lists.freedesktop.org/mailman/listinfo/apoc] (the "JDS Configuration Manager" name changed to "APOC" when it was open sourced.)