Display manager

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A display manager, or login manager, is typically a graphical user interface that is displayed at the end of the boot process in place of the default shell. There are various implementations of display managers, just as there are various types of window managers and desktop environments. There is usually a certain amount of customization and themeability available with each one.

List of display managers


  • CDM (Console Display Manager) — ultra-minimalistic, yet full-featured login manager written in bash
https://github.com/ghost1227/cdm || cdm-gitAUR


  • SLiM (Simple Login Manager) — lightweight and elegant graphical login solution
http://slim.berlios.de/ || slim
  • Qingy — ultralight and very configurable graphical login independent on X Windows (uses DirectFB)
http://qingy.sourceforge.net/ || qingy
  • XDM — X Display Manager with support for XDMCP, host chooser.
http://www.x.org/archive/X11R7.5/doc/man/man1/xdm.1.html || xorg-xdm
http://projects.gnome.org/gdm/ || gdm
http://www.kde.org/ || kdebase-workspace
  • LXDMLXDE Display Manager. Can be used independent of the LXDE desktop environment.
http://sourceforge.net/projects/lxdm/ || lxdm
  • wdm — WINGs Display Manager
http://voins.program.ru/wdm/ || wdm
  • LightDM — Cross-desktop display manager, can use various front-ends written in any toolkit.
http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/LightDM || lightdm, lightdm-bzrAUR
  • SDDM — QML-based display manager
https://github.com/sddm/sddm || sddm-gitAUR, sddm-qt5-gitAUR

Loading the display manager

To enable graphical login, run your preferred Display Manager daemon (e.g. KDM). At the moment, service files exist for GDM, KDM, SLiM, XDM, LXDM, LightDM, and SDDMAUR.

# systemctl enable kdm

This should work out of the box. If not, you might have a default.target set manually or from an older install:

# ls -l /etc/systemd/system/default.target
/etc/systemd/system/default.target -> /usr/lib/systemd/system/graphical.target

Simply delete the symlink and systemd will use its stock default.target (i.e. graphical.target).

# rm /etc/systemd/system/default.target

After enabling kdm a symlink "display-manager.service" should be set in /etc/systemd/system/

# ls -l /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service
/etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service -> /usr/lib/systemd/system/kdm.service

Using systemd-logind

In order to check the status of your user session, you can use loginctl. All polkit actions like suspending the system or mounting external drives will work out of the box.

$ loginctl show-session $XDG_SESSION_ID


Crash on 2nd logout

With the switch to systemd, many display managers crash on the 2nd logout. To solve this issue, just add a line to the end of the appropriate pam configuration file. The following example is for SDDM:

session 	required 	pam_systemd.so