How to Downgrade Gnome Display Manager 2.28 to 2.20 in Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic)

Sponsored Link

IMHO the new gdm 2.28 shipped by default with Ubuntu 9.10 is really just work in progress. It's fine for what it currently supports, but it does not support the range of functionality that gdm 2.20 does. Perhaps the biggest issue is Multiseat X. Multiseat X is one of the best things about Linux. You can have several independent workstations all on the same computers, each with their own X Server. Apart from anything else, this can reduce a group of users' carbon footprint by needing fewer computers and should be something that Ubuntu is shouting about and not hiding in some "legacy package" with all its negative implications.
Not only that, the gdm-2.20 package shipped with Ubuntu 9.10 is broken!

Check the bug from here

Note:- This procedure might break you system so use at your own risk

Procedure to Follow

1. Login in to your ubuntu 9.10 system

2. Open up a command line console (Applications->Accessories->Terminal) and enter the following command

sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

This will stop gdm, GUI and drop you back into a command line console. A necessary step for downgrading.

3. Login to the command line console and enter the following command

sudo apt-get install gdm-2.20

This will do the necessary work of removing gdm 2.28 and replacing it with 2.20. When prompted to select the default display manager, select "gdm-2.20".

4. Now you have to fix the broken gdm.conf. Enter

cd /etc/gdm

sudo sed ‘s|X11R6/||' gdm.conf >/tmp/gdm.conf

sudo mv /tmp/gdm.conf .

Note:- the period character at the end of the line -- you really do need it

This will edit out the offending entries and replace the broken gdm.conf

5 Start your gdm using the following command

sudo gdm



Thanks to Twhyman

Sponsored Link

You may also like...

25 Responses

  1. Marc says:

    sudo sed ’s|X11R6/||’ gdm.conf >/tmp/gdm.conf

    generates error:

    sed: unknown option s

    any suggestions?

  2. DD says:

    @Marc, same issue. I just reverted back. I am starting to think that GDM 2.28 and XSplash is a big mistake by Ubuntu.

  3. James says:

    What is broke???

  4. James says:

    I fixed an issue with my multiuser issue where the screen resolution jumps 1024×728.

    Is that the issue you are referring to?

  5. DavidC says:

    > …this can reduce a group of users’ carbon footprint by needing fewer computers…

    Great to see people thinking and talking about this issue. Thank you. 🙂

  6. smartjak says:

    I agree with ‘James says’. True I’m not using Ubuntu. I’m with Debian testing/Squeeze. Still, it’s using Gnome 2.28. And I don’t have a bit of a problem with it.

    So what’s the bitch?

  7. Destroyer says:

    The sed line failed for me also, but at least put me on the right track.

    Installed gdm-2.20 with synaptic then opened the gdm.conf in gedit as root. Replaced all ‘usr/bin/X11R6/X’ with ‘usr/bin/X’ and rebooted. Done!


  8. qwerty says:

    The correct command is
    sudo sed -i ‘s/X11R6\///’ /etc/gdm/gdm.conf

  9. Baruch says:

    It worked like a charm. Thanks !!

    I hope in the next version the guys from Canonical will correct the mistake. It’s an awful decision to revoke the option of login change in order to gain 2 seconds of boot time (believe me, there is no change at all..)

  10. slumbergod says:

    Anyone know if this will work with Xubuntu Karmic? It uses gdm 2.28 the same as Ubuntu. If 2.20 is completely compatible just with better options then I should have no problem.

  11. slumbergod says:

    There isn’t even a gdm.conf file to edit so I guess not.

  12. ignisuti says:

    I’m having the same issue. Why do the instructions tell us to edit the gdm.conf file if it doesn’t exist? We need to figure out what’s going on so we can move forward on multiseating with Ubuntu 9.10.

  13. houn2000 says:

    It does exist, but only after you’ve install gdm-2.20. The newer versions of gdm began using the gconf backend, therefore no more conf files.

  14. Dan says:

    Having increasing trouble with this. Initially the older GDM package could not be found, the url of the repository could not be resolved. The url was something like ‘gb.archive.ubuntu…’ Sadly I can’t check that now because trying to switch off GNOME using the first command no longer works, giving this error:

    “Rather than invoking init scripts through /etc/init.d, use the service(8)
    utility, e.g. service gdm stop

    Since the script you are attempting to invoke has been converted to an
    Upstart job, you may also use the stop(8) utility, e.g. stop gdm”

    I have tried using the suggested commands, but I get an error that gdm is an ‘unknown instance’.

    Phew. Anyone got any helpful ideas?

  15. L-user says:

    Followed the instructions to the letter (and dot) and now my system has no gdm login and I can’t even pull up a console.

    My system is totally fsked.

    Any tips on how to get this un-fsked? I can’t even seem to boot into single user mode.. hitting escape doesn’t bring up grub. X just keeps trying to start in it’s broken state.

  16. Indolence says:

    Dan: I had the same problem, I reinstalled ubuntu and then tried this again hard-wired to the internet and it worked. It seems wireless stops working after calling sudo /etc/init.d/gdm stop

    L-user: I have your problem atm. Starting ubuntu in recovery mode and then choosing boot as normal allowed me to access the login screen.

  17. Lalo says:

    Hi i just tried the commands and it worked , the only issue is that when i reload the system, it doesnt load by itself i need to enter in recovery mode and then startx manually, anyone can help me to solve this issue for the system to boot with the gdm 2.20 automatically ?

    Best Regards Lalo

  18. Lalo says:

    Hi i wrote a mistake, i dont have to startx manually but the problem is that i have to start the system in recovery mode , if i no start in recovery mode the system just freeze with a black window after the first splash screen appears … can anyone help me 🙁

    Best Regards

  19. Aryamaan says:

    Use this method instead of method number 4 :
    cd /usr
    sudo mkdir X11R6
    cd X11R6
    sudo ln -s /usr/bin bin

  20. Raymond says:

    Ive done 2 methods on trying to get gdm 2.20 to work on my 64 bit ubuntu 9.10

    im wondering is there there something im overlooking or inputing incorrectly.

    i keep receiving a blank screen with a dash at the top left after i do the methods and reboot. but when i log into recovery it works.

    ive been trying really hard to get this working, and if anyone can help me i would be greatly appreciative

    thanks for your time

  21. Majortom117 says:


    I had the same problems that there are two xserver startet after downgrading to gdm 2.20.

    I think the problem is that there is a /etc/init/gdm.conf wich affects upstart to start gdm and because of the runlevel startscripts in rc* the gdm is started twice…

    so I moved the /etc/init/gdm.conf to a temporary folder, rebooted and everything works fine now.

    hope this could help, cause it helped for me



  22. Rela-tiv says:

    thank you so much for this manual to downgrade.
    I missed the old way to select the login-screens so much ^^’
    With the gdm 2.20 finally I can set the login screen again as I like it.


    ps. excuse please my worse english xD

  23. yonatan says:

    thank you very much. I can now use “New user” in xscreensaver to switch user instead of installing gnome-session to make the new gnome-screensaver 2.28 run and then be able able to hit the button “change user”…

  24. Ashish says:

    Superb,u r just brilliant… thanks…. 🙂

  25. Paul says:

    Upgraded Ubuntu from 9.04 to 9.10. Ever since upgrading I couldn’t stay logged (with Xwindows) for more than 24 hours after which my screen would go blank and I think gdm would lock. Trying “gdm restart” from remote SSH would fail.

    I followed the directions exactly and had no issues with the syntax that qwerty said on
    NOVEMBER 20, 2009.

    This downgrade seems to have fixed my gdm issue. Plus I can change the login window preferences (couldn’t do that with v2.28).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *