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SLiM is an acronym for Simple Login Manager. SLiM is simple, lightweight and easily configurable. SLiM is used by some because it does not require the dependencies of GNOME or KDE and can help make a lighter system for users that like to use lightweight desktops like Xfce, Openbox, and Fluxbox.

Warning: Currently SLiM is not fully compatible with systemd, which causes various problems on second login. See #Incompatibility with systemd



Install slim from the official repositories.


Enabling SLiM

Note: slim no longer has ConsoleKit support, but relies on systemd-logind, and the system being booted with systemd.

Enable the slim daemon. With systemd, it is no longer possible to start slim using inittab. This can be done via the following systemctl enable slim.service

Single environments

To configure SLiM to load a particular environment, edit your ~/.xinitrc to load your desktop environment:


# ~/.xinitrc
# Executed by startx (run your window manager from here)

exec <session-command>

Replace <session-command> with the appropriate session command. Some examples of different desktop start commands:

exec awesome
exec dwm
exec startfluxbox
exec fvwm2
exec gnome-session
exec openbox-session
exec startkde
exec startlxde
exec startxfce4
exec enlightenment_start

For detailed instructions on how to start the various environments, refer to the appropriate wiki pages.

SLiM reads the local ~/.xinitrc configuration and then launches the desktop according to what is in that file. If you do not have a ~/.xinitrc file, you can use the skeleton file by:

$ cp /etc/skel/.xinitrc ~

Remember to make ~/.xinitrc executable:

chmod +x ~/.xinitrc

Default user name

You can make SLiM start with a username filled in, and the password field focused by default. Change the following lines in /etc/slim.conf:

# default_user        simone

Uncomment this line, and change "simone" to the username of choice.


After setting the default user name, to make SLiM automatically login without having to type a password, go to following line:

# auto_login          no

Uncomment this line and change the 'no' to 'yes'.

Warning: Do not do this for a root account.

Multiple environments

To be able to choose from multiple desktop environments, SLiM can be setup to log you into whichever you choose.

Put a case statement similar to this one in your ~/.xinitrc file and edit the sessions variable in /etc/slim.conf to match the names that trigger the case statement. You can cycle through sessions at login time by pressing F1. Note that this feature is experimental.

# Adapted from:

case $1 in
	exec startkde
	exec startxfce4
	exec wmaker
	exec blackbox
	icewmbg &
	icewmtray &
	exec icewm
Note: In the latest version (1.3.5), SLiM does not preset any default session, so using a DEFAULT_SESSION variable will not work the way it used to. Instead put your default session as the last case and |*) to the statement (see above)
Note: As of version 1.3.6-2 SLiM makes use of /usr/share/xsessions/ in order to find currently available desktop environments. If you have a prior version of SLiM installed you will have to add this directory as the value of the 'sessiondir' option to your slim.conf file. SLiM then passes the appropriate executable to ~/.xinitrc as an argument. Instead of a case statement, a basic multiple environments setup now only requires the addition of this to ~/.xinitrc:
exec $1


Install the slim-themes package:

# pacman -S slim-themes archlinux-themes-slim

The archlinux-themes-slim packages contains several different themes (slimthemes.png). Look in the directory of /usr/share/slim/themes to see the themes available. Enter the theme name on the current_theme line in /etc/slim.conf:

#current_theme       default
current_theme       archlinux-simplyblack

To preview a theme run while an instance of the Xorg server is running by:

$ slim -p /usr/share/slim/themes/<theme name>

To close, type "exit" in the Login line and press Enter.

Additional theme packages can be found in the AUR.

Dual screen setup

You can customize the slim theme in /usr/share/slim/themes/<your-theme>/slim.theme to turn these percents values. The box itself is 450 pixels by 250 pixels:

input_panel_x           50%
input_panel_y           50%

into pixels values:

# These settings set the "archlinux-simplyblack" panel in the center of a 1440x900 screen
input_panel_x           495
input_panel_y           325
# These settings set the "archlinux-retro" panel in the center of a 1680x1050 screen
input_panel_x           615
input_panel_y           400

If your theme has a background picture you should use the background_style setting ('stretch', 'tile', 'center' or 'color') to get it correctly displayed. Have a look at the very simple and clear official documentation about slim themes for further details.

Other options

Changing the cursor

After installing, edit /etc/slim.conf and uncomment the line:

cursor   left_ptr

This will give you a normal arrow instead. This setting is forwarded to xsetroot -cursor_name. You can look up the possible cursor names here or in /usr/share/icons/<your-cursor-theme>/cursors/.

To change the cursor theme being used at the login screen, make a file named /usr/share/icons/default/index.theme with this content:

[Icon Theme]

Replace <your-cursor-theme> with the name of the cursor theme you want to use (e.g. whiteglass).

Match SLiM and Desktop Wallpaper

To share a wallpaper between SLiM and your desktop, rename the used theme background, then create a link from your desktop wallpaper file to the default SLiM theme:

# mv /usr/share/slim/themes/default/background.jpg{,.bck}
# ln -s /path/to/mywallpaper.jpg /usr/share/slim/themes/default/background.jpg

Shutdown, reboot, suspend, exit, launch terminal from SLiM

You may shutdown, reboot, suspend, exit or even launch a terminal from the SLiM login screen. To do so, use the values in the username field, and the root password in the password field:

  • To launch a terminal, enter console as the username (defaults to xterm which must be installed separately... edit /etc/slim.conf to change terminal preference)
  • For shutdown, enter halt as the username
  • For reboot, enter reboot as the username
  • To exit to bash, enter exit as the username
  • For suspend, enter suspend as the username (suspend is disabled by default, edit /etc/slim.conf as root to uncomment the suspend_cmd line and, if necessary modify the suspend command itself (e.g. change /usr/sbin/suspend to sudo /usr/sbin/pm-suspend))

SLiM init error with rc.d daemon

If you initialize SLiM with /etc/rc.conf inside the DAEMONS array and it fails to initialize it's most likely a lock file issue. SLiM creates a lock file in /var/lock on each initialization, however, in most cases the lock folder in /var does not exist preventing SLiM from initializing. Check to make sure /var/lock exists, if it does not you can create it by typing the following:

# mkdir /var/lock/

Power-off error with Splashy

If you use Splashy and SLiM, sometimes you can't power-off or reboot from menu in GNOME, Xfce, LXDE or others. Check your /etc/slim.conf and /etc/splash.conf; set the DEFAULT_TTY=7 same as xserver_arguments vt07.

Power-off tray icon fails

If your power off tray icon fails, it could be due to not having root privileges. To start a tray icon with root privileges, be sure to have SLiM start the program. Edit /etc/slim.conf as follows:

sessionstart_cmd 	/path/to/tray/icon/program &

Login information with SLiM

By default, SLiM fails to log logins to utmp and wtmp which causes who, last, etc. to misreport login information. To fix this edit your slim.conf as follows:

 sessionstart_cmd    /usr/bin/sessreg -a -l $DISPLAY %user
 sessionstop_cmd     /usr/bin/sessreg -d -l $DISPLAY %user

Custom SLiM Login Commands

You can also use the sessionstart_cmd/sessionstop_cmd in /etc/slim.conf to log specific infomation, such as the session, user, or theme used by slim:

 sessionstop_cmd /usr/bin/logger -i -t ASKAPACHE "(sessionstop_cmd: u:%user s:%session t:%theme)"
 sessionstart_cmd /usr/bin/logger -i -t ASKAPACHE "(sessionstart_cmd: u:%user s:%session t:%theme)"

Or if you want to play a song when slim loads (and you have the beep program installed)

 sessionstart_cmd /usr/bin/beep -f 659 -l 460 -n -f 784 -l 340 -n -f 659 -l 230 -n -f 659 -l 110

SLiM and Gnome Keyring

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If you are using SLiM to launch a Gnome session and have trouble accessing your keyring, for example not being automatically authenticated on login, add the following lines to /etc/pam.d/slim (as discussed here).

auth       optional
session    optional    auto_start

You also have to add to /etc/pam.d/passwd:

password        optional

If you use a screensaver you also have to add

auth    optional

to /etc/pam.d/gnome-screensaver for example (replace gnome-screensaver with slimlock, slock, whatever you use). If you don't do that, your keyring is locked when screen is locked by your screensaver and not unlocked again after logging back in.

However, this fix alone no longer works since Gnome 2.30. Further changes are necessary as described here. Modifying the login_cmd line in /etc/slim.conf:

login_cmd exec dbus-launch /bin/bash -login ~/.xinitrc %session >~/.xsession-errors 2>&1

As of GNOME 3.4, you need to edit /etc/pam.d/{slim,passwd} as mentioned above, so that /etc/pam.d/slim looks like:

auth            requisite
auth            required
auth            required
auth            optional
account         required
session         required
session         required
session         optional auto_start
password        required

and /etc/pam.d/passwd

password	required sha512 shadow nullok
password	optional

As of 2012-10-13, /etc/pam.d/gnome-screensaver already contains the instruction.

The correct positioning of the instructions were taken from here.

After editing the above files, you need to edit /etc/inittab.

The solutions mentioned here and also further information are found here.

If you have problems keeping the keyring unlocked for longer sessions, there is another thing that Gnome does: Look at /etc/xdg/autostart/{gnome-keyring-gpg.desktop, gnome-keyring-pkcs11.desktop, gnome-keyring-secrets.desktop, gnome-keyring-ssh.desktop}.

Append the following lines to .xinitrc just before you start your wm (example here is awesome wm):

/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=gpg
/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=pkcs11
/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=secrets
/usr/bin/gnome-keyring-daemon --start --components=ssh

After login check if there is only one gnome-keyring-daemon instance running (ps -A ). If those lines are executed too early then you have 4 instances running which is not good.

You also should notice that seahorse for example does not show any pkcs11 errors anymore and that your keyring is unlocked all the time and does not lock itself anymore. Finally gnome-keyring is fully functional like in Gnome. See also here.

Setting DPI with SLiM

The Xorg server generally picks up the DPI but if it doesn't you can specify it to SLiM. If you set the DPI with the argument -dpi 96 in /etc/X11/xinit/xserverrc it will not work with SLiM. To fix this change your slim.conf from:

 xserver_arguments   -nolisten tcp vt07 


 xserver_arguments   -nolisten tcp vt07 -dpi 96

Use a random theme

Use the current_theme variable as a comma separated list to specify a set from which to choose. Selection is random.

Move the whole session to another VT

Lets say you have commented out tty terminals 3-6 as you may not use them. (You may use screen and therefore only need one terminal) So, to move the X-Server you need to change one number in the /etc/slim.conf file. Just a few lines down you should see:

xserver_arguments -nolisten tcp vt07

Simply change the vt07 to lets say vt03 as there is no agetty started there.

Automatically mount your encrypted /home on login

You can use pam_mount.

Change Keyboard Layout

Edit /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-evdev.conf, find the following section, add the two bolded lines, and replace dvorak with your preferred keymap:

Section  "InputClass"
          Identifier "evdev keyboard catchall"
          MatchIsKeyboard "on"
          MatchDevicePath "/dev/input/event*"
          Driver "evdev"
          # Keyboard layouts
          Option "XkbLayout" "dvorak"

All Slim Options

Here is a list of all the slim configuration options and their default values.

Note: welcome_msg allows 2 variables %host and %domain
sessionstart_cmd allows %user (execd right before login_cmd) and it is also allowed in sessionstop_cmd
login_cmd allows %session and %theme


To completely remove SLiM:

 # pacman -Rns slim
 # rm /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service

Known issues

Incompatibility with systemd

As of November 2013, SLiM is not fully compatible with systemd, because it reuses the PAM session process. It causes various problems on second login, e.g.:

  • NetworkManager applet does not work,
  • PulseAudio volume cannot be adjusted,
  • login failed into GNOME with another user.

However, functionality can be restored by manually editing /etc/pam.d/slim, and adding the following at the end of the configuration file:

 session 	required

See the following bugtacker reports for more details: [1] [2]

See also