I've been reading the other questions and none explains it simple enough.

Must I have lightdm installed with pantheon-greeter?

Which file am I to use if I wish to use pantheon-greeter? /etc/lightdm/pantheon-greeter.conf or is it always lightdm.conf? What should be stated in the file/these files?

  • Are you still looking for answer? – Anwar Apr 18 '17 at 5:30
  • @Anwar Would be cool, I need dumbed down instructions to understand fully how things work :) – Karl Morrison Apr 18 '17 at 7:20
  • Done writing a long answer :) – Anwar Apr 18 '17 at 8:16

Must I have lightdm installed with pantheon-greeter?

Yes. pantheon-greeter is a greeter for lightdm only.

Which file am I to use if I wish to use pantheon-greeter?

Lightdm is more modular than you may expect. The settings related to lightdm will go in /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf or in lightdm.conf.d directory under /etc/lightdm. The important thing to note that, lightdm doesn't maintain it's greeter specific settings such as theme name, font, icons to draw etc.

Which file am I to use if I wish to use pantheon-greeter? /etc/lightdm/pantheon-greeter.conf or is it always lightdm.conf?

You'll use /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf file to specify lightdm specific settings, for example which greeter to use like this


Here I specified to use pantheon-greeter as the greeter-session as opposed to unity-greeter that comes as default in Ubuntu.

Now the question is, which file do you use for greeter specific settings? These also are usually written in .conf files in /etc/lightdm/ directory with names such as unity-greeter.conf or lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf.

So, you'll use pantheon-greeter.conf for settings specific to this greeter. This is the content comes default in on first installation of the package.

anwar@anwarpc:~$ cat /etc/lightdm/pantheon-greeter.conf 

But these are not everything it seems. Particularly, unity-greeter and pantheon-greeter uses some settings from glib schemas from /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas directory. More specifically, the values under the section [org.gnome.desktop.interface]. You need to change them and compile the schemas to get some of the settings get applied. Without proper settings, the greeter may look uglier or broken. For example, theme and icon settings are read from glib schema.

But for other greeter such as lightdm-kde-greeter or lightdm-gtk-greeter, the .conf files will do the job.

What should be stated in the file/these files?

For lightdm, you can use all keys it supports. You can find them in this question

For greeter specific values, you'll use key/value pair recognized by them. For lightdm-gtk-greeter, you'll find all of them in /etc/lightdm/lightdm-gtk-greeter.conf file. Thanks to them.

For pantheon-greeter, you can use all the keys in /etc/lightdm/pantheon-greeter.conf as well as the schema values. Here is an example that goes in schema file.

document-font-name='Open Sans 10'
font-name='Open Sans 9'
monospace-font-name='Roboto Mono 10'

Also check this page for more information:


Yes, you must have LightDM installed to use Pantheon Greeter. It only works when run by LightDM.

lightdm.conf contains only settings that relate to the display manager and a few core settings that are appropriate for all greeters. For example lightdm.conf has settings to control if a greeter should show a field for entering arbitratry usernames and if it should show the list of available users. However, these are just hints and not implemented by all greeters.

For all other settings use the configuration system for that greeter (if any). These settings expose specific configurability for each greeter such as backgrounds, various visual elements to show, themes etc.

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