I'm using Arch Linux with Gnome 3.6 installed. There are several users on this PC with their own accounts. We used to use just switch user button instead of logging out. So almost always several users are logged in in our PC with their own set of running apps and etc.

I want to switch to Awesome and I want to save this. I want to be able to switch from my Awesome session to other user Gnome session without logout from my session. I want to use gnome-screen saver as screen saver in my Awesome WM session. And that's all. It is only 2 things that I want to save from Gnome.

Is it possible? What is the best practice for setting such things up?

  • GDM allows non-gnome window managers to be started. I am not really sure what you are asking here. What does gnome screensaver have to to with GDM? – jordanm Mar 8 '13 at 19:41
  • @jordanm Gnome shows a user switching widget that may not be straightforward to show in Awesome. That widget communicates with Gdm over D-Bus. I don't know the details. – Gilles Mar 8 '13 at 22:52
  • It isn't a problem to start Awesome. The problem is to switch user inside Awesome without logged out – petRUShka Mar 9 '13 at 10:10

I am using Fedora linux. Most people in our household use Gnome3 but I use Xmonad (which is similar to awesome, but better). This is no problem, as I have Xscreensaver running.

When Xscreensaver is started and saving the screen and you move the mouse, there are two options below the password entry field: New Login and OK. The last is for accepting the password to unlock the screensaver. The other one starts GDM on a new VT.

All of this worked out of the box. I just installed Fedora, then Xmonad and Xscreensaver. And I’ve set the option to lock the screen if Xscreensaver saves the screen. Because otherwise you don’t have the option for a new login but just quit the screensaver on mousemovement.

Maybe this is similarly easy to configure in Arch linux. Or maybe you could just crib from Fedora (or from a Fedora forum or ask.fedoraproject.org). I did not try if this works with Gnome-Screensaver somehow. But Xscreensaver anyway fits better to Xmonad.


If you can stick to GDM, just place a shortcut or .desktop file or panel item to point to gdmflexiserver.

When executed, it will take you to the next free VT and present you a greeter, while your previous session will be locked.

This even works with lightdm, however you can't run more than one session per user.

As for locking your session, have a shortcut to gnome-screensaver-command --lock.

Getting these two commands into Awesome or installing the synapse package from AUR might ease the transition.


If you disable gdm, you can do this using startx and VT switching. You may have to specify a different display, eg, startx -- :1 but it all refers to the same physical device if you only have one set up.

For example: User A logs in on VT 1, begins an X session with startx. Now switch to VT 2 via Ctrl-Alt-F2, and log in as user B, then startx. If you get a message, "X server already running on display 0:0" use startx -- :1.

You can now switch back and forth between the two X sessions, owned by two different users with completely different DEs, etc, by just switching VT's. Painless and instantaneous. You don't have to log out of either of them, although if security is a concern and these are two different people you will want to lock your screen; the VT switching should still be okay (I generally don't do the screen locking since I use this by myself, so YMMV).

I also don't use gnome, so I can't say for this will work with all DEs. It definitely will not with any kind of GUI login (GDM, XDM, etc.) system active, you have to boot to console, login, startx.

On some systems this works out in a very straight-forward way: you log in on VT 1, your X session is also on VT 1, and same for VT 2. On others (or I've noticed, occasionally on the same...) the X session ends up on a separate VT, meaning you have to sort that out each time and you will end up using two VTs per user.

  • It is quite nice solution, but I other people that use my PC aren't familiar with linux console and using terminal is very scary for them, so it is a solution, but not in my case. Thank you by the way – petRUShka Mar 9 '13 at 13:20

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