Find the best display manager for your Linux desktop if you want a login screen that others will admire.
The login or display manager is used to handle desktop logins and launch user sessions. Some display managers provide advanced theme capabilities, while others remain simple aiming for speed over aesthetics and options. Thankfully, users are able to switch display managers at any time if they are not satisfied with the one that is provided.
Understanding Linux Desktop Login Managers
The login manager or display manager handles the login procedures for the Linux desktop. If a login manager and a desktop environment are installed on your system, then the login manager will load in place of the default shell after booting. Linux desktop login managers will allow you authorize your user account for security purposes. When authorization is complete, the selected desktop session will load automatically.
How Does the Login Manager Work?
There are two different methods of loading the Linux display manager. You can use inittab or the daemon method. When using the inittab method, the display manager will load automatically after startup and will re-spawn in the event of a crash. If you are using the daemon method, the display manager will load automatically during startup as a daemon.
Do You Need to Install a Login Manager?
Most desktop environments include a login manager with their default installation. You can however change your login manager at any time if you are unsatisfied with your current one. A new login manager will give your login screen a new look, and sometimes additional features as well.
Can You Customize Your Login Manager?
Most Linux display managers use themes and can be customized to fit your needs. This includes the login screen background, fonts, colors and much more. The graphical user interface used for login is actually produced by the greeter, while the display or login manager does the work behind the scenes. This means that if you want to customize your login screen, you will need to customize your greeter. Themes are generally made to work with one greeter or another. Some login managers actually support multiple greeters allowing for a wider range of themes.
Default Linux Display Manager XDM
XDM is the default tool used to handle local or remote X server logins for the Linux desktop. This is a simple tool that provides only the most basic settings for the login screen.
X Display Manager Control Protocol XDMCP
XDMCP is another important component that can be used for logging into other systems remotely. When using XDMCP the X server will run on your local system. Applications and the display manager will run on the remote system, with the output being displayed locally.
Popular Linux Desktop Display Managers
There are several login or display managers available for the Linux desktop, some of these can be seen below.
MDM Display Manager
The Mint Display Manager is one of the more recent creations. MDM provides a wider range of theme capabilities and features than any other display manager available.
LightDM Display Manager
LightDM uses a lighter code base, but still provides a respectable list of features. This display manager is being widely adopted by some of the most popular Linux distributions.
KDE Desktop Display Manager KDM
This is the display manager created for use with the KDE desktop, but KDM will work on other desktops as well. This display manager provides a variety of convenient theme options, and lots of style themes created by the KDE community.
Gnome Desktop Display Manager GDM
Here is the Gnome Desktop Display Manager which was quite popular before the release of LightDM. This login manager provides high quality theme functionality and resembles the quality of KDM in many ways.
LXDE Desktop Display Manager LXDM
The LXDE Desktop comes with a display manager as well. This one is called LXDM for the Lightweight X Display Manager.
SLiM Display Manager
Another login manager that is light, fast, and still feature filled. This display manager is easy to setup and easy to use. This display manager offers a very attractive default theme, though it does remain extremely simple.
WDM Display Manager
The WDM display manager is also known as the WINGs display manager because it uses the WINGs widget toolkit.