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Revision as of 12:04, 14 April 2015


LightDM is a cross-desktop display manager that aims to be the standard display manager for the X server. Its key features are:

  • A lightweight codebase
  • Standards compliant (PAM, logind, etc)
  • A well defined interface between the server and the user interface.
  • Cross-desktop (user interfaces can be written in any toolkit).

More details about LightDM's design can be found here.


Install lightdm from the official repositories. Note that stable releases are even-numbered (1.8, 1.10) while development releases are odd-numbered (1.9, 1.11). These development releases are available with lightdm-develAUR from the AUR. Also available is lightdm-bzrAUR from the AUR.


You will also need to install a greeter (a user interface for LightDM). The reference greeter is lightdm-gtk-greeter. KDE users can install lightdm-kde-greeter, a greeter based on Qt.

Other greeters can be installed from the AUR as well:

You can change the default greeter by changing the configuration file under the [SeatDefaults] section, to state:


Enabling LightDM

Make sure to enable lightdm.service using systemctl so LightDM will be started at boot.

Command line tool

LightDM offers a command line tool, dm-tool, which can be used to lock the current seat, switch sessions, etc, which is useful with 'minimalist' window managers and for testing. To see a list of available commands, execute:

$ dm-tool --help


First, install xorg-server-xephyr from the official repositories.

Then, run LightDM as an X application:

$ lightdm --test-mode --debug

Optional configuration and tweaks

Some greeters have their own configuration files. For example, lightdm-gtk-greeter has:


and lightdm-kde-greeter has:


as well as a section in KDE's System Settings (recommended).

LightDM can be configured by directly modifying its configuration script or by using the lightdm-set-defaults applications that can be found in /usr/lib/lightdm/lightdm/. To see some of the options available, execute:

$ man lightdm-set-defaults

There are, however, a lot more variables to modify in the configuration file than by using the lightdm-set-defaults application.

Changing background images/colors

Users wishing to have a flat color (no image) may simply set the background variable to a hex color.



If you want to use an image instead, see below.

GTK+ greeter

Users wishing to customize the wallpaper on the greeter screen need to edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf defining the background variable.



Unity greeter

Users using the lightdm-unity-greeterAUR must edit the /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/com.canonical.unity-greeter.gschema.xml file and then execute:

# glib-compile-schemas /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/

According to this page.

Note: It is recommended to place the PNG or JPG file in /usr/share/pixmaps since the LightDM user needs read access to the wallpaper file.

KDE greeter

Go to System Settings > Login Screen (LightDM) and change the background image for your theme.

Changing your avatar

The .face way

Users wishing to customize their image on the greeter screen need to place an PNG image called .face or .face.icon in their home directory. Make sure it can be read by LightDM.

Note: As of December 2013, some people have issues where the icon file does not get picked up. The preferred way is to install accountsservice and use the following AccountsService way.

The AccountsService way

The .face way is known to cause issues, fortunately LightDM is able to use AccountsService automatically. First make sure the accountsservice package from the official repositories is installed, then set it up as follows, replacing username with the desired user's login name. The use of the .png file extension is presumably optional. If you are using KDE, you can also change your picture via the KDE System Settings.

  • Edit or create the file /var/lib/AccountsService/users/username, and add the lines
  • Create the file /var/lib/AccountsService/icons/username.png using a 96x96 PNG icon file.
Note: Make sure that both created files have 644 permissions, use chmod to correct them.

Sources of Arch-centric 64x64 icons

The archlinux-artworkAUR package from the AUR contains some nice examples that install to /usr/share/archlinux/icons and that can be copied to /usr/share/icons/hicolor/64x64/devices as follows:

# find /usr/share/archlinux/icons -name "*64*" -exec cp {} /usr/share/icons/hicolor/64x64/devices \;

After copying, the archlinux-artworkAUR package can be removed.

Enabling autologin

Edit the LightDM configuration file and ensure these lines are uncommented and correctly configured:


LightDM goes through PAM even when autologin is enabled. You must be part of the autologin group to be able to login without entering your password:

# groupadd autologin
# gpasswd -a username autologin
Note: GNOME users, and by extension any gnome-keyring user will have to set up a blank password to their keyring for it to be unlocked automatically.

Hiding system and services users

To prevent system users from showing-up in the login, install the optional dependency accountsservice, or add the user names to /etc/lightdm/users.conf under hidden-users. The first option has the advantage of not needing to update the list when more users are added or removed.

Migrating from SLiM

Move the contents of xinitrc to xprofile, removing the call to start the window manager or desktop environment.

NumLock on by default

Install the numlockx package and the edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf adding the following line:

greeter-setup-script=/usr/bin/numlockx on

User switching under Xfce4

If you use the Xfce desktop, the Switch User functionality of the Action Button found in your Application Launcher \ Whisker Menu specifically looks for the gdmflexiserver executable in order to enable itself. If you provide it with an executable shell script /usr/bin/gdmflexiserver consisting of

/usr/bin/dm-tool switch-to-greeter

then user switching in Xfce should work with Lightdm.

You can also switch users from the XScreenSaver lock screen - see XScreenSaver#Lightdm.

Default session

Lightdm, like other DMs, stores the last-selected xsession in ~/.dmrc. See Display manager#Session_list for more info.


If you encounter consistent screen flashing and ultimately no lightdm on boot, ensure that you have defined the greeter correctly in lightdm's config file. And if you have correctly defined the GTK greeter, make sure the xsessions-directory (default: /usr/share/xsessions) exists and contains at least one .desktop file.

The same error can happen on lightdm startup if the last used session is not available anymore (eg. you last used gnome and then removed the gnome-session package): the easiest workaround is to temporarily restore the removed package. Another solution might be:

# dbus-send --system --type=method_call --print-reply --dest=org.freedesktop.Accounts /org/freedesktop/Accounts/User1000 org.freedesktop.Accounts.User.SetXSession string:xfce

This example sets the session "xfce" as default for the user 1000.

Wrong locale displayed

In case of your locale not being displayed correctly in Lightdm add your locale to /etc/environment


Xresources not being parsed correctly

Tango-view-fullscreen.pngThis article or section needs expansion.Tango-view-fullscreen.png

Reason: Link to a bug report. (Discuss in Talk:LightDM#)

LightDM has an upstream bug where your Xresources file will not be loaded with a pre-processor. In practical terms, this means that variables set with #define are not expanded when called later. You may see this reflected as an all-pink screen if using a custom color set with urxvt. To fix it, edit /etc/lightdm/Xsession and search for the line:

xrdb -nocpp -merge "$file"

Change it to read:

xrdb -merge "$file"

Your Xresources will now be pre-processed so that variables are correctly expanded.

Missing icons with GTK greeter

If you're using lightdm-gtk-greeter as a greeter and it shows placeholder images as icons, make sure valid icon themes and themes are installed and configured. Check the following file:

theme-name=mate      # this should be the name of a directory under /usr/share/themes/
icon-theme-name=mate # this should be the name of a fully featured icons set directory under /usr/share/icons/

White screen after upgrading the GTK greeter to 2.0.0

The 2.0.0 greeter may display only a white screen with specific configurations. Clicking the white screen may get rid of it. A fix is pending for the next release, in the meantime you can set active-monitor=0 (or the appropriate number) in /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf.

See FS#43999 for reference.

LightDM freezes on login attempt

You may find that after entering the correct username and password and attempting to log in, LightDM freezes and you are unable to continue to the desktop. To fix the issue, reinstall the gdk-pixbuf2 package. See this forum thread.

LigthDM displaying in wrong monitor

If you are using multiple monitors, LightDM may display in the wrong one (eg: if primary monitor is on right side). To force LightDM login screen to display on a specific monitor, edit /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf and change the display-setup-script parameter like this :

display-setup-script=xrandr --output HDMI1 --primary

Replace HDMI1 by your real monitor ID, You can find it from xrandr command output.

Pulseaudio not starting automatically

See PulseAudio#Autostarting in unsupported desktop environments.

See also