How to Install GDM (GNOME Display Manager) theme in Ubuntu

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Linux GDM is a GDM login screen theme.Gdm (the GNOME Display Manager) is a highly configurable reimplementation of xdm, the X Display Manager. Gdm allows you to log into your system with the X Window System running and supports running several different X sessions on your local machine at the same time. This tutorial will explain how to install GDM theme in Ubuntu.

First you need to download your favourite GDM theme from here in .tar.gz format.

To install GDM themes, goto System>Administration>Login Window

When it prompted enter your password, once login window opens you should see similar to the following screen here click on local tab .Now you can add your .tar.gz files for this click on Add

Once it opens file selection window select your GDM file click install (In this example i am installing Spring time GDM theme) or you just drag and drop your .tar.gz file into themes

Now you can see your newly installed theme under themes list select your new theme click close

You need to logout from your system to see your new GDM login theme

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39 Responses

  1. Daniel says:

    Hi, your link to gnome-look org is malformed:

  2. admin says:


    Thanks for your update and i have updated the article

  3. kyio says:

    you can also just drag n drop the .tar.gz into the “login preferences window”. same thing – less clicks

  4. Ben says:

    But the new login screen is great! It looks way better than the old one.

  5. Will says:

    I have always installed my own personalised theme before but the new Jaunty theme is nice. I can’t bring myself around to getting rid of it.

  6. clint says:

    I do not have a login window under the administrator tab. So How would I install themes then.

  7. Deepak Kapoor says:

    Hi – I do not see a ‘tabbed’ window like this when I open System->Administration->login screen

    I only see a normal window where I can not dragdrop/import/add a new login theme.

    I can only configure who logs in and who logs in automatically (normal stuff)

    what do I do?

    am I missing an updte?

    I am running Ubuntu 9.10

  8. Deepak Kapoor says:

    btw, my menu item says ‘Login Screen’ and not ‘Login Window’

    where do I get a Login ‘Window’ configurator first?!

  9. JoshJosh says:

    I am having the EXACT same problem here too 🙁 At least I can say I’m NOT the only one -WHEW!!! Can someone PLEASE clue us in on what’s going on here?

  10. JoshJosh says:

    BTW, I just installed Ubuntu 9.10 too and it doesn’t seem to have that configuration utility.

  11. Tanya says:

    I’m having the same problem as Deepak Kapoo My login screen can only let me choose the automatic sign in stuff. How do i change it so I can change the log in theme? I did change it once but now its gone.

  12. Deepak Kapoor says:

    I found that they discontinued this fancy Login Window in 9.10

    I guess to save on some boot seconds..

  13. JoshJosh says:

    Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Gnome will either fix this with an update, or try to do it the extra special Linux way and go through the terminal. The only way I have found that you can at least change your settings is through all those pretty codes in the terminal!! And I thought Linux got a lot more user friendly over the years -HA! Take that Micro-oops! haha… Just kidding, at least I don’t have to stare at that blasted “blue screen of death” anymore(not to mention the security hassles)!!!

  14. Geert says:

    I have the exact same problem, someone knows how to solve it yet? or how the get past this screen and use another maybe??

  15. Augusto says:

    Hy everyone,

    I’ve found the following in []

    1. Logout of your current session and return to the GDM
    2. Switch to the tty command line prompt using Ctrl-Alt-F1
    3. Login using your normal login/password
    4. at the command line prompt type: export DISPLAY=:0.0
    5. then type: sudo -u gdm gnome-control-center
    6. Switch back to the gdm screen using ALT-F7
    7. The gnome-control-center should be loaded. Use it to configure your GDM.
    8. Click on the Appearances icon, in appearances you can change your GDM’s font, theme and background image.
    9. Close the gnome-control-center and login normally.

    But when I get to step 8, I cannot seem to be able to install any new theme, any help on this???

    Thanks a lot,

  16. Augusto says:

    I forgot to mention that the steps above are for Ubuntu 9.10

  17. arjun says:

    there is no such directory Administrator>Login window what can i do??? pls help me

  18. zoidy says:

    ist not a directory its the main menu your looking for but if your running karmic then its not there anyway not in the form being described anyhoo

  19. david says:

    when i type : sudo -u gdm gnome-control-center;
    it sais : ” cannot open display” .
    Any help?!

  20. zoidy says:

    i found that but when you press F7 to go back to the login screen it was there. unfortunately i didnt find it very useful.

  21. Ryan says:

    I just worked out how to do this in 9.10. It is easier than described here.

    System > Preferences > Appearance > Theme

    Then choose install and find where you downloaded your theme. Then click ok.

    Pretty simple. Hope that helps R

  22. wahhab says:

    i pressed install and i clicked on the downloaded theme ,, and it says (There was an error installing the selected file “THEMENAME.gz” does not appear to be a valid theme)
    i’ve tried many themes and it doesnt work please help me

  23. rom says:

    Same issue, actually i can’t install any new theme (GDM or other).
    I extract the files on my desktop but no way to make it work.
    I installed emerald but doesn’t help.
    I made the control center appear but nothing useful inside…..
    what am i missing?

  24. Mikko says:

    This helped me with 9.1. After install system/administrator includes also Login screen (GDM2 Setup).

  25. zxq9 says:

    This option is removed by default in the 10.4 LTS (Lucid Lynx) release.

    System > Administration > Login Screen
    no longer has *any* tabs. It is strictly a long-level tool and the only configurable lipstick-on-a-chicken type option is to play the (overly loud) login screen bongo sound or not.

    I am very disappoint.

    The most promising thing on the horizon is here:
    I am very surprised that Ubuntu’s GDM2 implementation took such a huge step backwards.

  26. laith says:

    i have my log on screen locked ,i tried to unlock it (as root) but no use, why? how to solve it?

    thanx in advance

  27. F D S says:

    I have an Ubuntu 10.10. I clicked on Login Window, but i haven’t as more possibility than i saw here. I can just change the users-impostations. Sorry for my english, i’m hungarian.
    F D S

  28. AlexiR says:

    Use the gdm2setup configuration ppa.
    Gnome no longer uses that version of gdm and ubuntu doesnt either both now use gdm2 which doesnt have as much configuration options as gdm1 but you with the configuration tool you can edit and add themes to gdm.

  29. Techeretic says:

    try the Gnome Art preference in System->Preferences->Gnome ART


  30. Rusho says:

    I don’t have the “Gnome ART” menu in my Ubuntu 10.10.

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