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We really need a new login experience in Ubuntu and this could only be achieved by patching GDM or by switching to some other display manager. And since LightDM sounds really great, today it was decided to switch to LightDM by default in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot.

LightDM is - as the name says - much lighter then GDM and is very easy to theme (it uses HTML, CSS and Javascript). That means we'll finally get login screen themes back - and hopefully a really cool login theme by default. But that's not all: we might even be able to login using an OpenID or Facebook, etc. That's not something that was considered to be included by default but it's nice to know it's possible and you can do it with some tweaking.

Further more, LightDM can be shared with other Ubuntu flavors and the Lubuntu developers have already expressed their interest in LightDM.

Trying out LightDM

Here is a LightDM screenshot without using any theme - that's because I couldn't get the Webkit theme to work:


Important: do not set LightDM as default yet. You can try it out without setting it as default by installing it from the main Ubuntu 11.04 official repositories or you can get a more up-to-date version via this PPA, then install "xserver-xephyr" and finally run "lightdm --test-mode". More info here (note: creating a lightdm.conf file causes LightDM to fail on my computer).

There's even an online LightDM greeter available - but remember, the theme is just an example, it can look any way you want it to. Try it out @ http://people.ubuntu.com/~robert-ancell/lightdm/greeter.html (you can look at the page source to see how to theme LightDM).

Check out the LightDM session notes here.