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What’s the difference between GDM and LightDM?

I'm a somewhat experienced noob on this Linux-thing. I'm growing quite familiar with Ubuntu and I just love Gnome(3+).

Just by accident I was presented with a choice the other day. I was upgrading from an old Ubuntu version and then I had to choose which display manager I wanted to use with the new version. Throwing the dice (even numbers = LightDM, odd numbers = GDM) I got a five, hence, I choose GDM.

I have a rather decent machine (AMD Phenom II hexa-core processor @3.2GHz, 16GB RAM, too much disc space, generic on-board graphics card). I'm currently running Ubuntu 12.10 with Gnome4 (yes, I know, I'm brave/stupid, considering the fact that both are still in beta stage). The machine has a quite central role in my network, but is almost exclusively connected to from other Linux devices (considering Android as Linux).

Basically, I just want to know which manager is the most optimal for my above mentioned system (if there is a difference at all, but there is a reason someone wrote LightDM, right?).

Are there any performance benefits or compatibility issues to consider?

Will I notice a difference using one over the other ?

Remember I'm a noob, I barely know what a display manager is or does.

Cheers, dbm

P.S: I don't want to start a GDM vs. LightDM war here (I will delete the question at the first trolling attempt).

marked as duplicate by Tom Brossman, con-f-use, Takkat, John S Gruber, Mitch Oct 18 '12 at 7:37

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • I'm not sure what you're asking here, is one better than the other? if so, better at what? they both do the same thing. – Uri Herrera Oct 17 '12 at 18:01
  • Really if it does the job. great. if not, ask about the specific aspect you want. For example... don't list users, autologin, screensavers on login screen, complexity, remote control, etc. It is only when you start doing things out of the ordinary that differences start to matter. – anthony Dec 4 '15 at 1:18

The default in Ubuntu is LightDM, but if it works I see no reason to lose sleep over it.

I am not aware of any difference between the two from a hardware performance aspect.

  • 2
    Great answer, thanks a lot! I googled LightDM and ended up on wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LightDM) where I could read "LightDM offers at least the same functionality as GDM but it has a simpler code base and does not load any GNOME libraries to work." What does that "does not load..." part mean do you think? That it's not compatible with (recent versions of) Gnome? It doesn't depend on Gnome? That I'm stupid who can't understand simple English wording? – dbm Oct 17 '12 at 18:21
  • 7
    @dbm It means that LightDM works properly without loading Gnome libraries – cubanacan Oct 25 '12 at 13:00

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