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Reason: The official package now considers slim-fork as the upstream. (Discuss in Talk:SLiM)
Warning: The SliM project has been abandoned (last release was 2013), and is not fully compatible with systemd, including logind sessions. Consider using a different Display manager or startx.

SLiM is an acronym for Simple Login Manager. Lightweight and easily configurable, SLiM requires minimal dependencies, and none from the GNOME or KDE desktop environments. It therefore contributes towards a lightweight system for users that also like to use lightweight desktops such as Xfce, Openbox, and Fluxbox.


Install the slim package.


Note: SLiM no longer supports a 'default' session where multiple sessions have been enabled. This is most noticable where attempting to log out and back in again to the same session.

SLiM can automatically detect installed desktop environments and window managers through the use of sessiondir /usr/share/xsessions/ in /etc/slim.conf. Those upgrading from a version before 1.3.6-2 must amend /etc/slim.conf and xinitrc, accordingly. See below.

Enabling SLiM

Enable the SLiM service slim.service. This assumes a previously enabled display manager was disabled first. Otherwise, change the default target.


Note: Available sessions for selection can be cycled through by pressing the F1 key.

To configure SLiM 1.3.6-2 (or later) to load an environment, edit both /etc/slim.conf and ~/.xinitrc.

First, edit /etc/slim.conf: If you only use a single environment, you can hash out sessiondir /usr/share/xsessions/. This will disable automatic detection of installed environments:

# Set directory that contains the xsessions.
# slim reads xsession from this directory, and be able to select.
# sessiondir            /usr/share/xsessions/

If you wish to automatically detect installed desktop environments, leave the line un-commented.

Second, edit xinitrc:

if [ -d /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d ] ; then
 for f in /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/?*.sh ; do
  [ -x "$f" ] && . "$f"
 unset f
exec $1

Set default username

SLiM can be configured to automatically set a desired username, which will therefore already be completed. The password field will also already be focused by default. Change the following line in /etc/slim.conf:

# default_user        simone

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

default_user        your username

Enable Autologin

Note: It will be necessary to have first set SLiM to use a single desktop environment, as well as a default username.
  • Do not set this for the root account.
  • If auto login is enabled, the GNOME keyring will not be unlocked automatically on login. This will cause dependent applications, such as Chrome/Chromium and NetworkManager, to misbehave (see

Edit /etc/slim.conf to uncomment the auto_login command and replace no with yes:

auto_login          yes


Install the slim-themes package. 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

You can preview a theme while Xorg is running with:

$ 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. See the theme documentation for how to customize your theme or make your own. SLiM does not support alternative theme directories, so it is recommended to create a package for your custom theme so that pacman is aware of it.

Custom background

SLiM is hard-coded to load background.png or background.jpg (in that order) from your theme directory. Simply overwrite the appropriate file

# cp /path/to/new_background.jpg /usr/share/slim/themes/<theme_name>/background.jpg

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.

Tips and tricks

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 or in /usr/share/icons/your-cursor-theme/cursors/.

To change the cursor theme being used at the login screen, see Cursor themes#The default cursor theme.

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 (by e.g. changing /usr/sbin/suspend to sudo /usr/sbin/pm-suspend).

Power-off error with Splashy

If you use Splashy and SLiM, sometimes you cannot 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

GNOME Keyring

Warning: If auto login is enabled, the GNOME keyring will not be unlocked automatically on login. This will cause dependent applications, such as Chrome/Chromium and NetworkManager, to misbehave (see

See GNOME/Keyring#Using the keyring to use GNOME Keyring in a custom session.

Setting DPI with SLiM

The Xorg server generally picks up the DPI but if it does not 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

If tty terminals 3-6 are not used and commented out (You may use screen and therefore only need one terminal), change /etc/slim.conf to move the X server:

xserver_arguments -nolisten tcp vt07

Simply change the vt07 to for example vt03 as no agetty is started there.

Automatically mount your encrypted /home on login

To automatically mount an encrypted partition on user login with SLiM, configure pam_mount as follows:

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

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"

Screen Lock

Slim includes slimlock, a screen lock feature. To use it, just run slimlock.

Slimlock reads some configuration from /etc/slim.conf and its own configuration file /etc/slimlock.conf.

To prevent VT switching whilst locked, set tty_lock to 1 in slimlock.conf. This also requires that that you have write access to /dev/console and that slimlock has the sys_sys_tty_config capability. One way to achieve this is set slimlock to suid root:

# chmod +4000 /usr/bin/slimlock
# chown root: /usr/bin/slimlock

An alternative is to setcap and permit your uid to write to /dev/console.

# setcap cap_sys_tty_config+ep /usr/bin/slimlock
# chmod o+rw /dev/console

You can use xss-lock to lock the screen automatically:

$ xss-lock -- /usr/bin/slimlock &

Known issues

Shutdown or Reboot Stalled

There is a bug or known issue with the combination of SLiM, Xfce and systemd that does not let the system to properly shutdown and systemd waits for the SLiM service to end, but eventually is terminated.

To accelerate the shutdown process these lines might help when editing slim.service:

ExecStart=/usr/bin/slim -nodaemon
ExecStop=/bin/kill -TERM -${MAINPID}

See FS#32380.

Identification problem

If your password contains non-ASCII characters (é, è, ç, à, etc.) and the locale of your system is in Unicode (fr_FR.UTF-8 for example), you will not be able to log in to your session with the package from the official repository (bugs found on Debian, bug#532060 and on NixOS, bug#29802).

A fixed version available on AUR brings Unicode support and solves this problem: slim-unicodeAUR.

Tip: Also, still in Unicode, this patch allows you to display messages correctly if you plan to localize your connection handler in /etc/slim.conf or themes, for example "Reboot system..." for reboot_msg.

See also