I wasn’t aware till today that people have been going nuts trying to find out how to change the GDM login screen in 9.10 “Karmic Koala”, which used to be really simple via System > Administration > Login Screen.
But now that same app has barely any features, so people are scratching their heads (some quite vigourously, I should add) as to why Ubuntu‘s developers would choose to implement this “regression”. So there are many people fuming that they can’t change their GDM themes, and while this isn’t going to devastate my computing world, I too think moving forwards is better than backwards.
But what most people don’t understand is that both those assumptions aren’t actually accurate. That is to say, it’s Gnome‘s developers who have made this change, and you can in fact change aspects of the login screen, albeit via a command-line hack.
There has been talk of Ubuntu’s boot process having been speeded up in 9.10, at the expense of GDM customisability. While this is technically true, once again I’ll point out that it is Gnome that is changing, and since Ubuntu runs that as its desktop environment, it has no choice but to follow. Ubuntu just happened to be the first distro to have this change, so no doubt everyone getting the latest versions of other Gnome-based distros will be crying until the Gnome developers give back a more useful GUI app for customising the login.
What is actually happening is that Gnome itself is moving away from its own GDM login to X-Server’s xsplash, for the purpose of a speedier boot, so all the GDM themes you might have are pretty much useless anyway. The good news is that people are already making cool xsplash themes, and there is a way to hack the default theme (which might be enough if you just want the background picture changed), and no doubt there will be an app available for this task in the future.
Another thing people are grumbling about, and for the security-conscious this is a lot more important, is the fact that a list of all users is displayed in the xsplash login. For some this would be no big deal, but for others this is pretty much giving away half the login information. But once again, you can change this via a hack, and no doubt Gnome’s developers will be rectifying this soon due to the rather large outcry.
For info on the many ways of customising your XSplash login screen, check out this comprehensive post.
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