Page Created 16 August 2006
Last Revised 17 August 2006

Login Screens for GDM

Not long ago, I learned how to change the Gnome Display Manager (GDM) login theme. You know, the picture that comes up when you boot the computer, asking for your username and password.

At the time, I didn't know anything about creating a login screen. It looks like it ought to be simple. Find a picture, blow it up to the appropriate size, add some text.

One of the login themes I had downloaded was the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Well, it's the NCC-1701A rather than the good-old NCC-1701, but it will do. You download this as a tarfile, gdm-ncc1701a-default.tar.gz, and load it with sudo /usr/sbin/gdmsetup .

OK, so what's in the tarfile? Let's take a look:

$ tar tvzf gdm-ncc1701a-default.tar.gz 
drwxr-xr-x u       0 2003-06-03 11:36:14 enterprise-1701-A/
-rwxr-xr-x u  582242 2003-06-03 07:18:28 enterprise-1701-A/splash.jpg
-rw-r--r-- u   46781 2003-06-03 11:21:01 enterprise-1701-A/screen.png
-rw-r--r-- u     164 2003-06-03 11:09:07 enterprise-1701-A/GdmGreeterTheme.desktop
-rw-r--r-- u    7715 2003-06-03 11:33:03 enterprise-1701-A/icon.png
-rw-r--r-- u   21082 2003-06-03 11:36:14 enterprise-1701-A/1701a.xml

The tarball has a directory enterprise-1701-A, inside of which are several files. I'm not going to go into detail about the files, you can read all about it elsewhere. Basically, we've got:

Now for the fun part. In GdmGreeterTheme.desktop there will be a line


Where xxxxx.xml is the file that controls the look and feel of the login screen. There are many options to this, but for our purposes we'll just modify the one from the Enterprise theme.

Home Grown Screensavers

I've played with creating a few themes. Feel free to take them and change them around as you will.

The pictures are all copyrighted by their owners, but were found on the web as wallpaper and screensavers and are assumed to be usable for non-commercial purposes. If you are the holder of the copyright, please let me know if you object and I will take the offending theme down.

The .xml files are from the Enterprise theme mentioned above and tweaked to suit my needs.

In most cases, I edited the icon files using The GIMP to make the background transparent. Everything else was done by editing the .xml file.

Locutus GDM Login Screen

Locutus 3.0: Because sometimes resistance really is futile.

Doctor Who GDM Login Screen

Doctor Who: As all Americans of a certain age know, there was really only one Doctor.

Stargate SG-1 GDM Login Screen

Stargate SG-1: Where do you want to go today?

Aaagh! I've lost the source to these pictures. If you stumble across them, email me and I'll update this information.

Blue Screen of Life GDM Login Screen

Blue Sceen of Life: Hey, it's the most often seen color in Windows, isn't it?

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