Update on my progress.
So everything worked as I had wanted, custom wallpapper, dock and icons, custom panel, 3rd party applications.
I'll post what I did in case it might help others.
These are the instructions I used to remaster Mint13-mate:http://community.linuxmint.com/tutorial/view/918
I found information on these forums on copying user profile settings to use as defaults on a remasterd .iso.http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=151&t=44401
here is a rundown of what I did
1. I followed the instructions to remaster Linux Mint from the first forum post above.
note: Through trial and error I learned that you should not do a "apt-get upgrade" to update all the packages or the .iso creation will fail miserably. Also, do not create a working folder. Just type in the path that you want to use in the GUI text field and it will create the folder for you.
2. Once the image is extracted and you have a chrooted terminal opened, I installed the extra applications that I wanted to use, as well as some themes.
From the repository I installed "cheese docky inkscape testdisk unetbootin grsync gprename shiki-wise-theme skiki-brave-theme"
From 3rd parties I installed "truecrypt, chrome, and teamviewer". I wasn't really sure if I could just copy and paste the
.deb files into the working directory, so I put the 3 files in dropbox, then used wget to download the files into the chrooted
environment. I installed the programs from there, then deleted the installer files.
3. At this point, I would create the image using the guide mentiond above, to make sure everything installed ok,
and also to set up for the next step. I skipped step 3 (the cleanup) because I still intended on making changes.
4. After I created the image to test it out, and booted up with it. I arranged the desktop to my liking then copied these folders from the live user directory
".config .gconf .mateconf .mateconfd" and put them in a USB stick.
Rebooted to my regular desktop.
Using the "caja" file manager as superuser, I copied the preference files into my remaster folder in the following location
Here is the full path on my system "/home/myusername/MintRemaster/root/etc/skel/".
5.Once done, I continued on with the guide on step 3 to clean up temp files. Created the .iso and booted up with it.
It is pretty much exactly what I wanted. Here is a pic of the desktop booted up. If, I did anything wrong or if there is a
better/faster way to accomplish this, I'm open to suggestions.