Display manager

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Not to be confused with window manager.


A display manager (DM), sometimes known as login manager, presents the user with a graphical login screen to start a GUI session, either X or Wayland.

A display manager is not mandatory. X or Wayland can be started from a shell in a VT, but a DM can provide extra or useful functionality.

For how to run X without a DM, see X without Display Manager.

Available software

Some display managers are listed below.

Some Wayland DMs below are found in the overlay wayland-desktop, but not yet merged to the official Portage tree.
Name Package Type Description
CDM x11-misc/cdm Console Minimalistic.
GNOME/gdm gnome-base/gdm X / Wayland Often used with GNOME.
greetd gui-apps/gtkgreet
Wayland Frontends for greetd. TUIGreetd runs in console.
LightDM x11-misc/lightdm X Lightweight, and customizable via greeters.
LXDM lxde-base/lxdm X LXDE Display Manager.
Qingy sys-apps/qingy console getty replacement.
SDDM x11-misc/sddm X / Wayland Modern, fast DM aiming to be simple and beautiful. Highly customizable, eye candy display manager from KDE.
SLiM x11-misc/slim X Requires only a few dependencies.
WDM x11-misc/wdm X Modification of XDM.
XDM x11-apps/xdm X X.Org's DM.


Before setting up and using a display manager, be sure that the chosen GUI environment, startx or Wayland, works without problems. If something does not work refer to the troubleshooting guides, such as Xorg/Guide.

In all major Linux operating systems, display managers are started automatically on boot. In order for this to happen automatically, a script must be added to the init system's appropriate runlevel. Examples for OpenRC and systemd are provided below.


Under most circumstances, the OpenRC init system (Gentoo's default init system) will be used to start the display manager. The following examples will set SDDM as the display manager, adjust as necessary for other display managers.

If gui-libs/display-manager-init is not present, emerge it with:

root #emerge --ask gui-libs/display-manager-init

The configuration file should be modified to use SDDM:

FILE /etc/conf.d/display-managerSet SDDM as the display manager

To start the chosen display manager on boot, add the display-manager to the system's default runlevel:

root #rc-update add display-manager default

To start the display-manager immediately, run:

root #rc-service display-manager start


If using systemd as the init system, first locate the chosen <display-manager>.service file.

To start SDDM on boot, enable the service:

root #systemctl enable sddm.service

To start SDDM immediately, run:

root #systemctl start sddm.service

See also

  • Desktop environment — provides a list of desktop environments available in Gentoo.
  • Login — logging in to a shell, and setting up the default environment.
  • Window manager — manages the creation, manipulation, and destruction of on-screen windows and window decorations in Xorg.
  • Xorg/Guide — explains what Xorg is, how to install it, and the various configuration options.
  • X without Display Manager — describes how to start an X11 session without a display manager