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 an X server session.

Available software

Alphabetical list of some display managers in the official Gentoo tree:

Name Package Description
CDM (The Console Display Manager) x11-misc/cdm The Console Display Manager
GDM (GNOME Display Manager) gnome-base/gdm GNOME Display Manager
LightDM (A Lightweight Display Manager) x11-misc/lightdm A lightweight display manager
LXDM (LXDE Display Manager) lxde-base/lxdm LXDE Display Manager
Qingy (Qingy Is Not GettY) sys-apps/qingy A DirectFB getty replacement
SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager) x11-misc/sddm Simple Desktop Display Manager
SLiM (Simple Login Manager) x11-misc/slim Simple Login Manager
WDM (WINGs Display Manager) x11-misc/wdm WINGs Display Manager
XDM (X Display Manager) x11-apps/xdm X.Org's X Window Manager
Before setting up and using a display manager, be sure that startx works without problems. If something does not work refer to the Xorg/Guide.


In 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 proper init system's 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 XDM init script handles the starting of the display manager. Configuration of the conf.d file is needed to set a default display manager for the system.

The following examples will set SDDM to be the default display manager. Adjust as necessary for other display managers.

FILE /etc/conf.d/xdmSetting SDDM as the default display manager

To start SDDM on boot, add the XDM init script to the system's default runlevel:

root #rc-update add xdm default

To start SDDM immediately, run:

root #rc-service xdm start


If using systemd as the init system, first locate a .service file.

To start SDDM on boot, enable the following service:

root #systemctl enable sddm.service

To start SDDM immediately run this command:

root #systemctl start sddm.service

See also

  • 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
  • Window manager — manages the creation, manipulation, and destruction of on-screen windows.
  • Desktop environment — provides a list of desktop environments available in Gentoo.
  • Login