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LightDM is a cross-desktop Display Manager. It was built as a relatively light-weight and highly customizable alternative to GDM. It's developed at Canonical by Robert Ancell and all contributors are required to assign the their copyright to Canonical through a Contributor License Agreement that allows proprietarization.

LightDM was introduced in Wheezy, it's stable enough for use also in Jessie and Sid.

To install lightdm in Wheezy, run as root

aptitude install lightdm

System-wide configuration

LightDM configuration file is found at /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf. Making a backup of the original configuration file is recommended.

Alternatively, create /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/ and place your configuration files there.

To change the current default Display Manager, run

dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

If you're new to LightDM, it's recommended to have GDM, slim or another Display Manager installed as a backup.

Viewing current configuration

To view effective configuration, run

/usr/sbin/lightdm --show-config

This will show current settings, with the configuration files these settings were read from.

Enable autologin

Look up these lines in lightdm configuration file, uncomment them and customize to your preference.


Enable user list

By default, LightDM is configured so that the user should enter login name and password. Login name is considered sensitive information.

It is possible to provide the user with selection of available user accounts. The most recently used login name will be selected in the list. The user still has to enter password to login. This provides useful compromise between security and convenience for a single-user desktop system.

To enable user list, place the following settings into /usr/share/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/01_my.conf:


Change the greeter's background

Debian's LightDM GTK greeter is configured in /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf. There, we find that the background image points to /usr/share/images/desktop-base/desktop-background, which is a symlink managed by update-alternatives.

So, to change the greeter's background, the best way is to find some images that you like from /usr/share/images/desktop-base/, then use update-alternatives to change the desktop-background group:

update-alternatives --config desktop-background

User configuration

LightDM itself has no user configuration. Once you've authenticated with your username and password, LightDM will run an X session. If you wish to configure your login environment, you must use the configuration files for whichever type of X session your system is configured to use. By default, this will be the Debian Xsession.

See also