How to Install the MDM Display Manager in Ubuntu

If you have heard of Linux Mint, you will be pleased to know that the latest release (Linux Mint 14) comes with a new login manager – MDM Display Manager, that is both beautiful and customizable. Here is how you can get it on your Ubuntu.

The MDM Display Manager is based on the GDM 2.20. While it comes with its own set of themes, you can also install custom GDM theme from and customize it to your liking.

1. Open a terminal and type:

sudo sh -c 'echo "deb maya main" >> /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mint.list'

This will add the Linux Mint 14 repository to your repo list.

Next, we are going to do a repo update:

sudo apt-get update

You will see an error message like this:


Ignore it. Proceed to install the Linux mint keyring. This will get rid of the error above.

sudo apt-get install linuxmint-keyring

If you have previously installed GDM, you have to remove it as it conflicts with MDM:

sudo apt-get autoremove gdm

Next, install MDM:

sudo apt-get install mdm mint-mdm-themes

As it installs, it will show the following message:


Click “OK” to proceed.


Tap arrow-down to select MDM and click OK.

That’s it. Restart your computer and you should MDM as the default login manager in the next bootup.


Customizing MDM

In the terminal, type:

gksu mdmsetup

This will open the Login Windows Preferences. Here is where you can configure many aspect of the login screen, including auto-login, remote access etc.

To change the theme, first go to “ -> GDM themes” and download your favorite theme. It should be in .tar.gz format.

Next, in the Login Windows Preferences, go to the “Local” tab.


Click the “Add” button and select the downloaded theme. The new theme should appear in the list. Select it and click “Close”. Log out of your current session and you should see the new theme in action.

If you find that the GDM theme that you have downloaded cannot be added, it is probably because it is not coded for the MDM. To fix this, you just have to go into the .tar.gz file and rename every instance of “GdmGreeterTheme” to “MdmGreeterTheme”. Once that is done, you will be able to add it to the MDM theme directory.



To switch back to lightdm

In the terminal, type:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure mdm

and you should be able to choose lightdm as the default display manager. Restart the computer for it to take effect.

That’s all.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

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