Display manager

A display manager, or login manager, is typically a graphical user interface that is displayed at the end of the boot process in place of the default shell. There are various implementations of display managers, just as there are various types of window managers and desktop environments. There is usually a certain amount of customization and themeability available with each one.

List of display managers


  • CDM Login manager written in Bash.
https://github.com/evertiro/cdm || cdmAUR
  • Console TDM Extension for xinit written in pure Bash.
https://github.com/dopsi/console-tdm || console-tdmAUR
  • nodm Display manager for automatic logins (unmaintained since 2017).
https://github.com/spanezz/nodm || nodm
  • Ly TUI (ncurses-like) display manager for Linux and BSD. Supports X and Wayland sessions.
https://github.com/nullgemm/ly || lyAUR
  • tbsm A Bash session or application launcher. Supports X and Wayland sessions.
https://loh-tar.github.io/tbsm/ || tbsmAUR
  • emptty Simple CLI Display Manager on TTY with X and Wayland support.
https://github.com/tvrzna/emptty/ || emptty-gitAUR
  • loginx A getty/login/xinit combination with a friendly curses ui.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/loginx/ || loginxAUR
  • Lemurs TUI display manager for Linux, written in Rust. Supports X, Wayland and TTY shell sessions.
https://github.com/coastalwhite/lemurs || lemurs-gitAUR


  • SDDM QML-based display manager and successor to KDM; recommended for Plasma and LXQt.
https://github.com/sddm/sddm || sddm
  • XDM X display manager with support for XDMCP, host chooser.
xdm(8) || xorg-xdm

Login daemons

    Loading the display manager

    To enable graphical login, enable the appropriate systemd service. For example, for SDDM, enable .

    This should work out of the box. If not, you might have to reset a custom symlink to point to the default . See systemd#Change default target to boot into.

    After enabling SDDM a symlink should be set in . You may need to use to override old symlinks.

    Using systemd-logind

    In order to check the status of your user session, you can use loginctl. All polkit actions like suspending the system or mounting external drives will work out of the box.

    $ loginctl show-session $XDG_SESSION_ID

    Session configuration

    Many display managers read available sessions from directory. It contains standard desktop entry files for each desktop environment or window manager. Some display managers use a separate /usr/share/wayland-sessions/ to list Wayland-specific sessions.

    To add/remove entries to your display manager's session list, create/remove the .desktop files in as desired. A typical .desktop file will look something like:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Comment=Log in using the Openbox window manager (without a session manager)

    Run ~/.xinitrc as a session

    Installing xinit-xsessionAUR will provide an option to run your xinitrc as a session. Simply set as the session in your display manager's settings and make sure that the file is executable.

    Starting applications without a window manager

    You can also launch an application without any decoration, desktop, or window management. For example to launch create a file in like this:

    [Desktop Entry]
    Name=Web Browser
    Comment=Use a web browser as your session
    Exec=/usr/bin/google-chrome --auto-launch-at-startup
    TryExec=/usr/bin/google-chrome --auto-launch-at-startup

    In this case, once you login, the application set with will be launched immediately. When you close the application, you will be taken back to the login manager (same as logging out of a normal desktop environment or window manager).

    It is important to remember that most graphical applications are not intended to be launched this way and you might have manual tweaking to do or limitations to live with (there is no window manager, so do not expect to be able to move or resize any windows, including dialogs; nonetheless, you might be able to set the window geometry in the application's configuration files).

    See also xinitrc#Starting applications without a window manager.

    Tips and tricks


    Most display managers source , and . For more details, see xprofile.

    Set language for user session

    For display managers that use AccountsService the locale for the user session can be set by editing:

    where your_locale is a value such as en_GB.UTF-8.

    Alternatively, you can achieve this using D-Bus:

    Log out and then back in again for the changes to take effect.

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