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In Linux (UNIX) files which have a name starting from a "." are hidden to normal listing. For example if you "ls" your home directory you will not see file starting from "."
To see them in a console use "ls -a". It will then list the files like ".bashrc",".bash_history". In GNOME (in Nautilus) Ctrl+h is the key sequence as I remember. I'm not very much sure about GUIs since I use GUIs for a limited number of uses.
What kind of profiles are you refering to? For example profile for the BASH is .bash_profile in your home directory. But in a typical Linux box you don't get something like a single profile per user. Basic user cofigurations are in /etc/passwd, /etc/shadow and /etc/group (do not mess with these if you don't have any idea about what you are doing). Each user usually shall have seperate profile like files for the programs they use (.gome, .gimp, .tcshrc, .bashrc, etc.) usually in your home directory.
Things are different if you are using directory services, Samba, centralized authentication kind of things.
Another possibility is the bash command alias. Alias allows you to use a short comand name in place of a long one eg
alias l='ls -laRC color=auto'
would do a recursive directory list showing all hidden files and colour them according to type ( at least I think it should)
if you type alias at the bash prompt you will get a list of all commands which are aliased if you find the commands there that you dont want then you can unalias them for the session or you may have to check the bashrc file in /etc to remove them permanently