71

Is there a simple linux command that will tell me what my display manager is?

I'm using Xfce. Are different desktop environments usually affiliated with different display managers?

11 Answers 11

57

Unfortunately the configuration differs for each distribution:

Debian/Ubuntu

/etc/X11/default-display-manager

RedHat (should also apply to Fedora)

/etc/sysconfig/desktop

OpenSuSe

/etc/sysconfig/displaymanager
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  • 1
    Huh, why are you telling me about configuration...? – ptrcao Sep 9 '11 at 15:49
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    @ptrcao Because it specifies what display manager you are using. – Šimon Tóth Sep 9 '11 at 15:51
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    Suppose I don't know what my display manager is and I want to find out by using terminal. How would I do that? – ptrcao Sep 9 '11 at 15:55
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    @ptrcao You would look into those files. Either opening them in your favorite editor, or just doing cat. – Šimon Tóth Sep 9 '11 at 15:56
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    It has only one line in it: /usr/bin/xdm - does that mean xdm is my display manager? – ptrcao Sep 9 '11 at 15:59
34

If you are using systemd based distribution. This command will give the name of the display manger currently configured because you may have more than one display manager installed.

grep '/usr/s\?bin' /etc/systemd/system/display-manager.service

OUTPUT will be something like

ExecStart=/usr/bin/mdm

Looks like I am using mint display manager.

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  • 1
    This answer should be the first you see, as most users having this type of question today are running systemd based distros. Thanks. It helped me. – Adergaard Feb 14 '17 at 19:24
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    @allsyed my file doesn't have /usr/bin it has /usr/sbin. Linux-Mint 18 – Prvt_Yadav May 18 '18 at 12:21
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    This answer works on Arch Linux. Thanks – imriss Jun 19 '18 at 15:55
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    In my case (Centos 7) I've to write | grep '/usr/sbin' – Davide Sep 27 '18 at 13:54
  • @Davide I've edited the search pattern in the answer to match both cases. – Anthony Geoghegan Jul 22 '19 at 12:33
25

There isn't. The display manager is not necessarily related to anything else that's running on the same X server. The display manager runs before you log in; it's chosen by the system administrator. Everything else (window manager, session manager, desktop environment, …) is chosen by the user. There doesn't even have to be a display manager: if you log in in text mode and start the GUI with startx, no display manager is involved.

You can check which display manager is the default one on your system. This will only give the right answer under some common but not universal assumptions. If you manually ran a different manager for whatever reason, this method won't tell you.

A good bet is to find out the process ID of the X server: its parent process is probably a display manager, if there is one. This requires that your clients are running on the same machine as the X server. lsof /tmp/.X11-unix/X${DISPLAY#:} will show the X server process (assuming the X sockets live in /tmp/.X11-unix).

x=$(lsof -F '' /tmp/.X11-unix/X0); x=${x#p}
ps -p $(ps -o ppid -p $x)

(Explanation: lsof -F '' prints output like p1234. The -F option means a machine-parseable output format, and '' means to only print the PID, with the letter p before it. x=${x#p} strips off the initial letter p. The last line obtains the PID of the parent of the X server (ps -o ppid -p $x), and calls ps to show information about that parent process.)

Some distributions allow installing multiple display managers. There'll only be a single one running unless you have a multiseat system though. To list all installed display manager packages under Debian and derivatives:

aptitude -F %p search '~i ~P^x-display-manager$'

or

</var/lib/dpkg/status awk '
    /^Package: / {package = $2}
    /^Provides: .*x-display-manager/ {print package}'
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24

If you're using systemd, then

systemctl status display-manager

Will display the name and status of the active display manager service on your machine.

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  • With Debian 9, this is the only one that worked for me. The other systemd methods returned nothing. – MickeyfAgain_BeforeExitOfSO Jul 3 '19 at 17:42
10

The display manager name should be in DESKTOP_SESSION

echo $DESKTOP_SESSION

returns "gnome" for me.

EDIT
You're right. They're going back and forth on that on XFCEs bugzilla so it probably isn't very reliable.

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  • @frabjous: What about gdm and kdm? Are they display managers too or just login managers? – ptrcao Sep 9 '11 at 14:39
  • I must've accidentally deleted frabjous' comment just above because I remember he remarked that Gnome is a desktop environment, not a display manager. This thread is abound with confusion... – ptrcao Sep 9 '11 at 15:48
  • This gives information about… the desktop session, which is likely to be the same thing as your desktop environment, but may be something else altogether if you're not using a desktop environment or you have a peculiar configuration. On the machine where I'm writing this, $DESKTOP_SESSION is unknown. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Sep 9 '11 at 23:56
  • +1, echo $DESKTOP_SESSION also returns gnome to me... but maybe this only works for gnome? – Trevor Boyd Smith Sep 17 '11 at 22:37
  • If it only works for gnome, this command will only help you deduce "yes you have Gnome or no you don't have gnome". When the question wants to find out more than that. – Trevor Boyd Smith Sep 17 '11 at 22:37
3

Like @Gilles said, the display manager will start your desktop environment.

According to the Debian Wiki, mostly these end with dm, only exception is slim.

So this should suffice for most of people's needs:

ps auxf | awk '{print $11}' | \grep --color -e dm$ -e slim$

Or to be sure, it exists as a parent process, and is not forked (except from the init system):

ps auxf | awk '{print $11}' | \grep -e "^/.*dm$" -e "/.*slim$" 
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    This is the only solution here that worked for me. Figured out that my Fedora 23 minimal with LXDE add-on (not the LXDE Spin) is running lightdm. The RedHat/Fedora solution from the top answer didn't work, the configuration seems to have moved. – Daniel Saner Feb 7 '16 at 14:29
1

Try using this command

systemctl |grep "Display Manager"

This will provide below output.

[anil@localhost Desktop]$ systemctl |grep "Display Manager" xdm.service loaded active running X11 Display Manager

Now you can see xdm.service listed just above loaded active running and that is your Display Manager

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0

In some case, wmctrl could help. This utility is compatible with a lot of windows managers.

wmcrt -m 

should display the name of the currently used window manager.

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0

As already mentioned, there is a lot of confusion in this thread. The original question is what display manager, not desktop manager or window manager. I'm currently running Xfwm4 which is Xfce window manager, and lxdm which is lightweight X11 display manager (from LXDE, not Xfce). You should be able to see what display manager you are using via htop. You've probably long since discovered the answer over the past 4 years :)

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  • Actually never did... In fact gave up on Linux altogether and went over to the dark side :D – ptrcao Feb 22 '18 at 13:37
0

You can do this via a third-party script called screenfetch

Screenfetch is a bash script available for Linux that displays system information alongside the ASCII version of the Linux distribution Logo of the system

Install via package manager sudo apt-get install screenfetch (assuming you're on Debian variants)

and just run screenfetch In your terminal

Project link https://github.com/KittyKatt/screenFetch

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-2
lshw -c video | grep 'configuration'
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  • 4
    A little bit of explanation would be nice. – phk Aug 1 '18 at 12:10
  • A very misleading answer. I wonder why the writer hasn't removed it yet. – Just Khaithang Feb 7 at 18:05

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