In Unix-like operating systems (including Linux) that follow the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard, system-wide configuration files (information similar to what would appear in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE on Windows) are traditionally stored in files in /etc/ and its subdirectories, or sometimes in /usr/local/etc. Per-user information (information that would be roughly equivalent to that in HKEY_CURRENT_USER) is stored in hidden directories and files (that start with a period/full stop) within the user's home directory. However XDG-compliant applications should refer to the environment variables defined in the Base Directory specification.
The policy file is created by a free tool by Microsoft that goes by the filename poledit.exe for Windows 95/Windows 98 and with a computer management module for Windows NT. The editor requires administrative permissions to be run on systems that uses permissions. The editor can also directly change the current registry settings of the local computer and if the remote registry service is installed and started on another computer it can also change the registry on that computer. The policy editor loads the settings it can change from .ADM files, of which one is included, that contains the settings the Windows shell provides. The .ADM file is plain text and supports easy localisation by allowing all the strings to be stored in one place.
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Individual settings for users on a system are stored in a hive (disk file) per user. During user login, the system loads the user hive under the HKEY_USERS key and sets the HKCU (HKEY_CURRENT_USER) symbolic reference to point to the current user. This allows applications to store/retrieve settings for the current user implicitly under the HKCU key.