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.

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
GTKGreet (GTK Greeter) gui-apps/gtkgreet GTK based Greeter for greetd
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
TUIGreet (TUI Greeter) gui-apps/tuigreet Terminal based UI Greeter for greetd
WDM (WINGs Display Manager) x11-misc/wdm WINGs Display Manager
XDM (X Display Manager) x11-apps/xdm X.Org's X Display Manager
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.
Historically, the xdm init script handled the starting of the display manager, which has now been deprecated in favor of the display-manager init script from gui-libs/display-manager-init.

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

With display-manager

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

With the deprecated xdm init script

FILE /etc/conf.d/xdmSet SDDM as the display manager

To start the chosen display manager on boot, add the xdm 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 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

  • 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 — is a primer which explains various aspects of a login shell.