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Linux Create a Custom Gnome Login Desktop Screen

Q. I'd like to keep same login screen for my school Linux desktop system lab. How do I create a custom gnome login screen or menu under CentOS or Ubuntu Linux desktop systems?

A. You can easily customize all properties of a login screen. You can manually edit the files or use GUI tool.

Editing configuration files

Different Linux distribution stores GDM config files under diffrent directories:

  1. Debian / Ubuntu Linux: /etc/gdm directory
  2. RHEL / CentOS / Red Hat / Fedora Linux : /etc/X11/gdm directory
  3. OpenSuse / SUSE Linux : /etc/opt/gnome/gdm directory

Use ls command to view files:
$ ls -l /etc/gdm
Sample output:

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 34141 2007-10-24 00:10 factory-gdm.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   132 2007-08-11 02:26 failsafeBlacklist
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  7343 2007-09-07 05:57 failsafeDexconf
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  1646 2007-10-07 22:26 failsafeXinit
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  6207 2007-10-07 22:25 failsafeXServer
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 34141 2007-10-15 16:11 gdm.conf
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  2175 2008-01-16 13:08 gdm.conf-custom
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root  1564 2007-04-11 02:12 gdmprefetchlist
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 2007-11-19 12:15 Init
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 10842 2007-10-15 16:09 locale.conf
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 2007-11-19 12:15 modules
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 2007-11-19 12:15 PostLogin
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 2007-11-19 12:15 PostSession
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root  4096 2007-11-19 12:15 PreSession
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  4182 2007-10-15 16:11 XKeepsCrashing
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  6226 2007-10-15 16:12 Xsession

Usually, you need to only update gdm.conf file. However, this file should not be updated by hand. Since GDM, configuration choices in the GDM System Configuration file (gdm.conf) will override the default values specified in this file.

Gui tool

Type the following command to open GUI configuration tool:
# gdmsetup
$ sudo gdmsetup
Now you should able to customize login screen:

Fig. 01: gdmsetup in action

Fig. 01: gdmsetup in action

Note that not all configuration options are listed here. You may want to edit gdm.conf-custom if you cannot find what you are looking for.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Anonymous May 24, 2010, 9:42 pm

    where the heck is login WINDOW

  • AG December 21, 2010, 9:01 am

    Also, see text below taken from the GDM help supplied with Fedora 14:

    The icons used by GDM can be installed globally by the sysadmin or can
    be located in the user’s home directories. If installed globally
    they should be in the /pixmaps/faces/
    directory and the filename should be the name of the user. Face image
    files should be a standard image that GTK+ can read, such as PNG or
    JPEG. Face icons placed in the global face directory must be readable
    to the GDM user.

    If there is no global icon for the user, GDM will look in the user’s
    $HOME directory for the image file. GDM will first look for the user’s
    face image in ~/.face. If not found, it will try
    ~/.face.icon. If still not found, it will use the
    value defined for “face/picture=” in the
    ~/.gnome2/gdm file.

    If a user has no defined face image, GDM will use the
    “stock_person” icon defined in the current GTK+ theme. If no
    such image is defined, it will fallback to a generic face image.

    Please note that loading and scaling face icons located in remote user
    home directories can be a very time-consuming task. Since it not
    practical to load images over NIS or NFS, GDM does not attempt to load
    face images from remote home directories.

  • Techie Talks November 14, 2011, 2:59 am

    Nice. Thanks for the info

  • Anonymouse March 13, 2013, 10:50 am

    there is no gdmsetup in RHEL 6.3. I cant see gdm directory in /etc/X11 as well

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