I sometimes experiment with many different desktop environments, some of which can be unstable. I have had a few times where I needed to drop into root shell, disable auto login, then log into my regular desktop, and re-enable the auto-login again.

If I run a desktop from LightDM and it crashes in general, or on logout, Auto login logs me into the last used desktop environment. In trying out questions I want to load a different environment for only one session.

Does LightDM have an option for "This session only" on desktop environments, If not does another login manager have that functionality?

Update: I tried looking into setting up a default login, as explained in this question, How do I change the default session for when using auto-logins? to try and setup a persistent default login,

but as stated here, http://www.tuxgarage.com/2011/09/setting-lightdm-to-auto-login-oneiric.html , "LightDM takes into account the last chosen session, and, thus, overrides any other settings for both 'user-session' and 'autologin-session', set up in the '/etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf'; just make sure your system is updated!" So no go, as it will still login into the last chosen session.

Also from that link I tried setting up an "autologin-user-timeout" hoping that I could do a keypress if there is a delay in the autologin, but this option does not work for reasons stated on the link.

  • Beside that this is a good question: Did you think about using VirtualBox or an equivalent?
    – Jakob
    May 15, 2012 at 17:57
  • 1
    That would be good, but my test box is limited in resources, 1ghz and 1 Gig of memory, plus I like to mostly try things in a real environment, and I can allready have my usual programs ready to test in the new desktop, ect.
    – Mateo
    May 15, 2012 at 18:02

1 Answer 1


Here is a Workaround I'm now using, not perfect, I'm probally remembering a featrue from the good ol gnome days, anyways-

I made another user to do all my "desktop experimentation". My regular user still auto logs in, and to my "default" session. So then I can just log out, mess up my other user, and easily go back to my regular desktop, when the computer shutdown(or crashes) it logs in to my normal desktop!

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