How do I switch from the default display manager (Lightdm) to the older display manager (GDM)?


Switching from LightDM to the "older" GDM is very easy, and need not even involve opening a terminal.


  • If you need/want to do this from a terminal (e.g. recovery console), please scroll below the screenshots for a how-to.
  • Also, the "new" GDM is not covered here because it is not officially available for 12.04 and the unofficial packages do not work for most users.

Easily switch to GDM with the Software Centre

  1. Open the Software Center, type "gdm" in the search box, and click on Install as shown below, or click on this button: gdm Install gdm

    enter image description here

  2. After you enter your password, you will get the configuration screen shown below. Change lightdm to gdm and click on Forward:

    enter image description here

  3. Restart your computer, and you should now have the "old" GDM login screen; note that you can still select from any available session, including Ubuntu (3D), Ubuntu 2D, Gnome, Gnome Classic, etc.

    enter image description here

Switch to GDM via the terminal

  1. Open a terminal with Ctrl+Alt+T if you are on the desktop and not in the recovery console.

  2. Type sudo apt-get install gdm, and then your password when prompted or run sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm then sudo service lightdm stop, in case gdm is already installed.

  3. A "Package Configuration" dialog will be displayed; click OK to proceed to the below screen. Use the arrow-keys to select gdm instead of lightdm, press Tab to move to OK, and press Enter.

    enter image description here

  4. Reboot the computer (you can do this with sudo reboot if in the recovery console).

  • NOTICE that mateo said that it does not work for 12.04 - that has been my experience. Ron Aug 10 '12 at 21:17
  • I'm sorry? These screenshots were taken on 12.04. Stock gdm works perfectly. All Mateo did was add the one-click install link...
    – ish
    Aug 11 '12 at 0:52
  • In Ubuntu 16.04, if you want to switch from lightdm to gdm you need to type dpkg-reconfigure lightdm to bring up the dialog.
    – Sina
    Nov 2 '16 at 21:33
  • Just a warning related to the terminal instructions for Ubuntu 16.04: when I did sudo service lightdm stop it shut down my window manager and then my computer. Make sure you have saved everything! :) Also I couldn't find "gnome display manager" in the software centre.
    – rmin
    May 16 '17 at 23:57
  • Compared to dozens other who did not, this worked for 17.10 as well, thanks a lot! Oct 25 '17 at 14:17

These did not work for me for newer versions of gdm. I had to use gdm3 instead of gdm

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm3


additionally to the answers, to use gdm3 and stop lightdm on Ubuntu 18.04:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm3

systemctl stop lightdm
systemctl start gdm3

Gnome-display-manager is not broken in 12.04 (or at least it works fine for me), There is no need to reboot the machine. You ran the right commands, but maybe try it this way, also might want to sudo apt-get install gdm just to make sure you have the working version.

I ran sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm then sudo service lightdm stop

after this you will need to press alt+f2 and login from command line. Then you will be able to start sudo service gdm start separably.


Choosing Between lightdm and gdm

Reverting from lightdm to gdm is extremely easy if you have not entered a wrong command in the terminal.

You just need to open the terminal and type the following command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure lightdm

Enter your password and two dialog boxes will appear after one another (Similar to those which appeared while installing lightdm).

Press enter to select 'OK' for first dialog box and then choose between gdm and lightdm in the second dialog box.

Restart your PC.

Hope that helps!


additionally what luis alvez wrote above, for systemd managed systems (15.10 e.g.) use:

systemctl service stop lightdm
systemctl service start gdm

instead of

sudo service lightdm stop

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