How-To Geek

How to Change the Ubuntu Linux Login Screen

Want to change your login screen? Don’t know how? You might think it’s very hard and requires super-geeky skills but it’s really simple and you won’t believe how easy it is to do it. Keep reading for the easy instructions.

Change the Login Screen the Best Way

Using this method you can customize every aspect of your login screen. It allow you to customize your login screen just like the way you do with your desktop wallpaper. Start by opening a command line window and put in this command:

sudo cp /usr/share/applications/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow

Now logout and you’ll see an Appearance window pop up. Change it to how you prefer it. You can change the theme, background, mouse cursor, and icons.

When finished, close it and login as usual. When you have logged in after finishing the customizing, run this command to prevent the Appearance window from opening at the GDM screen every time.

sudo unlink /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop

A good idea is to use the Bisigi Themes. If you don’t have Bisigi Themes already installed then we have covered it in Give Ubuntu a Fresh New Look with Bisigi Themes.

Now your login screen has been completely customized. Keep on reading for even an easier way.

Change the Login Screen the Easiest Way:

This method requires Ubuntu Tweak to be installed. If you don’t have it installed already then no problem. Just enter the following commands in a terminal window to get it installed

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:tualatrix/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-tweak


Once installed, you can find Ubuntu Tweak in the Applications > System Tools menu


Omar Hafiz is a geeky Linux user who loves customizing Ubuntu to fit his personal style. Whether it's the login screen or his Gnome panels, he's got them tweaked to perfection.

  • Published 03/30/11

Comments (15)

  1. Philip

    How would I do this on Xubuntu? It doesn’t use GNOME, so the above command doesn’t work.

  2. Jonneh

    Ah, I see you used the Bisigi Airlines theme for one of those screenshots.
    Does your login screen change with the time of day like the actual theme does? Wouldn’t that be interesting… heh.

  3. Lisa

    I’d been wondering how to do this. Thanks! :)

  4. Omar Hafiz

    @ Philip – I have no idea how to do it in Xubuntu.

    @ Jonneh – Find out and tell me.

  5. cam2644

    I’ve been using Ubuntu Tweak for a while. It opens the door to many other things too without requiring too many geek skills.

  6. WittZi

    I can’t believe that this article is here today … I was just trying to figure out how to do this last night but I was using Emerald Themes (which is probably why I was failing)!


  7. Plonk

    Quite easy : GDM2SETUP :

  8. Alex B

    This is a great article, thanks!
    I was really clueless before about this topic and it has been wandering around in the back of my mind for some time. now I have one more ubuntu/Linux trick to stagger windows/OSX fan-boys with :)

  9. AndreiD.

    Nice tips , really. I cannot help to not notice the appetite for Ubuntu distribution .How about sometimes spilling out some tech about openSUSE ? It never worked well for me the deb. and GNOME , so I ended up with rpm. and KDE for good now (don’t get me wrong, I’m not flaming).

  10. Jon424

    ok, and what if, lets say, i just changed my ubuntu from 10.04, to 11.04, and now my login screen is stuck with what I had previously installed with ubuntu tweak, unavailable for ubuntu 11.04

    anyone can help… I tried the command line above, but got an answer saying that the file is missing or that cp is unable tocompute… is it that the new version wont allow me to change my login screen. Ubuntu tweak and gdm2 are unavailable for the new version…
    thank you

  11. spearmint

    I use the Ubuntu 11.04 and tried both methods:
    #1 LoginWindow/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop
    #2 with Ubuntu Tweak.
    Nothing is working.
    #1 while is listing my file copied into /usr/share/backgrounds still can’t choose it, it can’t even preview my picture (showing ? instead of it’s thumbnail).
    I thought I would change permissions of the file to match those files which are listed in /usr/share/backgrounds, but it didn’t work.
    #2 Ubuntu Tweak simply lies: it acts like it is going to use my file, shows preview of it, but upon login I still have a solid color background.
    I tried to install the Blue-ray player today, did everything as listed in instructions, but could not get the lxBDPlayer to work.
    Well, I guess it is time to get back to Windows…
    My conclusion is that Linux is still pretty much is not ready for an average Joe.

  12. Rasa

    but tweak only allows you to change the background.
    not the actual login window.

    What I need is to be able to make the login window itself (not the background) slightly transparent.

    Any ideas?

  13. iampcman

    Thanks for these how-to’s….the best

  14. heyy

    how do u do it for a pc/windows

  15. Mone

    All the wierd ShlT happens to me…When I follow the instatructions I get a (gwm) instead of Home. When I go via File System —Home–(user)—Pictures—Sample Pictures. It tells me “Permission Denied”

    So I log back in and use ALT+F2 and enter (gksudo nautilus) to browse Nautilus with Root permissions. I then copy my file to usr/share/backgrounds then I follow the top instructions again BUT my pictures just doesn’t show. I have tried converting them to .png and jpeg but still nothing just a blank screen. But I can select the original wallpapers…that works. Come on. Don’t tell me Ubuntu 11.04 is this much full of crap.

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