LightDM is the login screen you see once your Ubuntu machine starts up. It’s a lot better than the old days when you were dropped at a terminal prompt. It’s a fairly new program, and while it does a great job of getting you from login to the desktop, one could argue the visuals are a little bland. The following will show you how to customize LightDM with themes and backgrounds to dress up that dull look.
Customize LightDM on KDE
If you’re running KDE, it is pretty easy to customize LightDm. Open System Settings, and find “Login Screen (LightDM)”i n the “System Administration” group.
Opening this will display a screen that allows you to:
- Select from among two included themes: Classic (displaying only fields for username and password) and “User Bar” (displaying avatars and usernames in a side-scrollable list with a field for password below).
- Change the background image for the LightDM screen.
Once you’ve made changes, you’ll need to log out of KDE to see them.
As mentioned, there are only two themes installed by default (at least on my Kubuntu system). If you manage to find others around the Internet (they don’t appear in likely places like KDE-Look yet), you’ll need to copy them into folders beneath /usr/share/kde4/apps/lightdm-kde-greeter/themes/ (on an Kbuntu-based system). For other systems, look for where the “LightDM KDE Greeter” keeps its files.
Customize LightDM on Unity
For systems using Unity, there’s no utility available out-of-the-box to customize LightDM, but the handy Ubuntu Tweak will allow you to do this. In Ubuntu Tweak, select the “Login Settings” button (as shown below).
Make sure the “Tweaks” tab is highlighted, and you should see a screen like the one below. First, you’ll need to click the “Unlock” button and input your password, since these are system-level changes.
Ubuntu Tweak will allow you to do many things, including:
- Set whether guest access should be enabled.
- Change the background image
- Change the logo
- Select the GTK theme to be used
- Select the icon theme to be used
Once you make your selections, you’ll need to log out of Unity and log back in to see the changes.
Alternative LightDM Greeters
If the standard LightDM greeters (unity-greeter and lightdm-kde-greeter) aren’t to your liking, you can install alternatives. One option is to install the “other” default greeter, i.e. install the unity-greeter package on your Kubuntu machine, or the lightdm-kde-greeter package on your Ubuntu system. One thing to bear in mind is that each of these will install a fair number of new Unity or KDE dependencies for you, so if space or performance is of utmost importance to you, these are not the lightest options. The following commands will install these greeters for you:
The lightdm-gtk-greeter package provides a log-in screen built using the GTK toolkit, and used in the Lubuntu variant. This greeter is essentially a single dialog with options for user account, password, and session type. One feature you’ll lose with this option is the ability to log in to a remote machine with your local computer, but if you don’t use this feature, it’s a very straightforward log-in screen.
The following command will install this option:
LightDM is still in its early stages in terms of customization, but it represents a nice step forward from existing display managers (such as KDM or GDM) as a cross-desktop utility to get you logged into your Linux desktop. Have you tried any of these ways to customize LightDM? Let us know in the comments below.
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