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Display Managers in Mageia

In Linux the login screen is known as the Display Manager or DM. Naturally being Linux you have a choice of more than one Display Manager to choose from. This page will describe the various Display Managers available, will explain why you might choose a Display Manager, and will show you how to change to a different Display Manager.

The big two - GDM and KDM

  • kdm display manager
    selecting a kdm theme
    When KDE is selected as the primary desktop in a Mageia installation the installer will automatically install the kdm display manager. KDM uses many of the same libraries as KDE itself and so is the natural choice when KDE is the primary desktop. Like most display managers kdm is themable so kdm in one linux distribution may not look the same as kdm in another distribution.

Alternate KDM themes included in Mageia are kde4-style-bespin-kdm and kde4-style-tibanna-kdm. Other themes can be downloaded from KDE-Look These are saved in the directory /usr/share/apps/kdm/themes

To change the kdm theme log into KDE open a terminal and issue the commands

su -
systemsettings

The KDE settings GUI will then open with root user privilege. Select the Login Screen icon in the System Administration section.

  • If Gnome was selected as the primary desktop when installing Mageia, then the installer will have selected gdm as the display manager. The default gdm theme in Mageia looks like this.

insert picture here

Like KDM, GDM is fully themable.

Other Display Managers

As well as GDM and KDM, there are a surprising number of other Display Managers included in the Mageia distro.

  • LXDM -
    xdm display manager
    lxdm is the default display manager installed by Mageia if LXDE is the primary desktop selected during installation. lxdm is a much more lightweight DM than kdm and gdm, with far fewer dependencies. For example gdm has 60 packages as dependencies so is not the best choice if you are installing on a computer with limited resources or disc space. On the other hand LXDM is not suitable for guest logins because of the way it does not fully close user applications on exit.
  • XDM -
    lxdm display manager
    XDM is the display manager installed if you do not select any of the three primary desktops KDE, Gnome, or LXDE during installation. It is the historic DM, the one that has been first developed; it has very basic DM features.
  • SLiM -
    SLiM display manager
    As its name implies SLiM is a light weight display manager intended for computers with low resources. SLiM will open the default (last used) desktop if nothing else is chosen. Press F1 repeatedly until the desktop you want to run is displayed, if you want to choose a different desktop from the last used one. SLiM is not maintained as well as other login managers; however, it is very lightweight and configurable. It is configured by editing /etc/slim.conf. For more information about the SLiM login manager, go to http://slim.berlios.de/ on the internet. Other themes for SLiM are available as well.
  • LightDM -
    lightdm gtk greeter
    lightdm razorqt greeter
    configuring lightdm kde greeter
    lightdm kde userbar theme
    lightdm is a relatively new display manager. Although it is included in Mageia 2 it is only in Mageia 3 that it is fully mature. Like lxdm and slim, lightdm is intended to be a light weight DM suitable for low end computers. LightDM supports greeter plugins to change its appearance. In Mageia 3 three lightdm greeter plugins are included, lightdm-gtk-greeter, lightdm-kde-greeter, and lightdm-razorqt-greeter . It is up to the user to choose which greeter to use. It is not compulsory to use the razorqt greeter when using razorqt for example. To select a different greeter install the new greeter and then issue as root the command.
update-alternatives --config lightdm-greeter

The lightdm-kde-greeter is however heavily integrated with KDE, and can only be configured with the KDE System Settings GUI, and requires a lot of KDE dependencies.

Comparison of Features

Power Management

  • kdm, lxdm, slim, xdm do not support suspend on lid closure so if a laptop lid is closed while at the login screen it will run the battery down.
  • gdm does support suspend on lid closure but it requires gnome-power-manager to be installed. When configuring gnome-power-manager check the use as default box and the same settings will be used by gdm.
  • lightdm does support suspend on lid closure independently as a built in function. It will work with all greeters. The greeters also have a button to initiate suspend or hibernate manually.

Desktop Selection

  • xdm does not support selection of desktops. It will open the default desktop (last used).
  • slim requires repeated pressing of F1 to rotate through the available desktops.
  • gdm, kdm, lxdm, lightdm all support selection of a desktop. In gdm and kdm it is not obvious how to select the desktop. In gdm the user has to press the cogwheel icon (next to the Sign In button) to see a list of available desktops. In kdm the user has to press the pencil and paper icon to see a list of available desktops. All the other DMs have a drop down list. All the DMs will use the last used desktop as the default for the new session except the razorqt greeter for lightdm which always selects the lowest desktop alphabetically.

User List

  • xdm, slim, lightdm-razorqt-greeter require the user name to be typed.
  • kdm, gdm, lxdm, lightdm-gtk/kde-greeter allow the user to be selected from a list which is more convenient if a little less secure. Alternate kdm or gdm themes may behave differently.

Selecting Display Managers

The active Display Manager is selected in the Boot>Set up Display Manager section of Mageia Control Centre. Only installed DMs are shown in the list. After selecting a DM it is necessary to either reboot or restart the X server (systemctl restart prefdm.service).

Selecting a display manager

From command line you may use

drakedm