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I am in the process of creating a lightweight yet full-featured Linux disto and don't want to include a whole bunch of unnecessary or bloated software. It is supposed to run off a USB flash drive. I want to have it be somewhat user-friendly, hence the necessity of a graphical login.

I really hope it can be xdm (a 115 KB package) and not kdm (part of a 64 MB package).

I realize that much of the user-friendliness comes from having a visually-pleasing graphical interface, and a lot of effort thus far has been put into art direction. Much of the user interface (fluxbox) has been heavily customized to reflect the art and themes of the disto.

My questions are:

  • How far can the look and feel of xdm(1) be customized?
  • Have you tried or seen the work of others who have done it?
  • Can you show me an example?
  • If it's unfeasible to expect that much out of xdm, is there another graphical login client that is equally as lightweight?
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

You can definitely customize xdm. This is documented in the (quite thorough) xdm man page. Some things are customized via X resources (which, long ago, was the normal way to configure X apps — you can use a similar thing to customize xterm), generally in the file /etc/X11/xdm/Xresources. Others things — like setting a background image — are controlled through the Xsetup script.

But you might also want to look at LXDM, which is another lightweight and modern (gtk) X display manager, but without all the dependencies of gdm or kdm. In fact, you might want to look at LXDE for your project in general — it's designed to be a very lightweight desktop environment (built around openbox as a window manager).

There's also a display manager called SLiM, which also aims at being lightweight and themeable. I haven't used that one, though, so I can't vouch for it.

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Awesome! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. – amphetamachine Feb 22 '11 at 16:27

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