Saturday, 16 January 2010

Mulling over login screen options

The removal of old GTK-based stuff from Debian means that the beautified XDM used up to now won’t work for future Debian releases. skinny-xdm-beautify uses xmessage, and that is one of the casualties in the cull. So here are a few alternatives worth considering:


The big issue here is that it will require some kind of replacement for the functionality of xmessage. gxmessage comes to mind, but the main problem with gxmessage is that its windows are always drawn in the center of the screen—in other words, you can’t place it in a corner. A custom python UI may do the trick.


  • It’s light.
  • It’s a standard (the standard, in fact).
  • Apart from the xmessage issue, it’s done.


  • The xmessage issue.
  • There is an unsolved problem with XDM and XFE when you try to open a root manager from XFE.
  • There is some strange behavior when gksu and gksudo are run the first time in the present Skinny. This may be attributable to XDM.
  • XDM does not source ~/.profile, etc. This is a bit of a problem if you want to add to the PATH at login and may be responsible for the goofiness noted above.


Bite the bullet and take the resources hit?


  • May solve the gksu and gksudo problem.
  • Lets users choose sessions with no config.
  • It’s reasonably standard.
  • It’s pretty out-of-the-box.
  • May offer as-yet unknown additional functionality.


  • It’s heavy.
  • No signature root-window beautification.


It looks as though a fork of SLiM is being used by the LXDE project.


  • It’s light.
  • It’s pretty out-of-the-box and can be themed.
  • Lets users choose sessions (but requires tweaky admin config.)


  • Shutdown/Reboot is really funky.
    • Unclear whether additional “buttons” can be added (ala XDM beautification).
  • Least standard of the available options.
  • Is development stalled?
  • May not support root-window beautification.