I can change the background image that Unity Greeter displays, but regardless of the image I choose, it's overlaid with a grid of dots. The dots look OK on the default background, but they look horrible on the background I want to use. How can I get rid of them?

4 Answers 4


For 12.04 and 14.04

Try the following commands in a terminal. It should work.

sudo xhost +SI:localuser:lightdm
sudo su lightdm -s /bin/bash
gsettings set com.canonical.unity-greeter draw-grid false


  • +1 for giving the correct answer for 12.04. I'd remove the second exit though, it assumes that you opened a terminal just for this sequence of statements and want to close it again.
    – nem75
    Apr 22, 2012 at 10:40
  • For some reason this worked on one 12.04 machine but not on another.
    – detly
    Sep 2, 2012 at 4:38
  • @detly If it doesn't work in one machine, I am not exactly sure if my answer is wrong. Can you give us more info?
    – jokerdino
    Sep 2, 2012 at 4:54
  • Sorry, I accidentally submitted that comment before I meant to. I found that the Ubuntu Tweak Tool has a toggle for it anyway, which worked for me.
    – detly
    Sep 2, 2012 at 5:04
  • @detly I am glad it eventually worked for you. Now that you are on 12.04, can you also check out the Zeitgeist question? wink
    – jokerdino
    Sep 2, 2012 at 5:05

This answer applies only to Ubuntu 11.04

Thanks to @Blitz and @Zoke for their answers. However, I've created a more complete solution. I've modified the package unity-greeter to remove the dots and I've packaged it in a PPA.

Anyone who wants to be rid of the dots can use my PPA. Here are instructions:

  1. Add the PPA:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:scott.severance/lightdm
  2. Run sudo apt-get update

  3. Run sudo apt-get upgrade
  4. The dots are now gone.
  • 3
    If you downvote, please explain why. Jan 19, 2012 at 16:23
  • 4
    Presumably because forking unity-greeter is overkill, and relying on a PPA to maintain an important package (even if unity-greeter is mainly just configuration) is not ideal. And there is a much simpler configuration-only solution. Apr 22, 2012 at 12:37
  • 4
    @mmj: At the time this was posted, it was the only way. I filed a bug containing my patch which was accepted upstream. Now, upstream has changed the way they handle configuration. I fail tosee how my solution was o erkill Apr 22, 2012 at 13:35

It is hard coded in the sources. I have disabled it on my install by making a small change in the source of user-list.vala.

A quick step by step guide.

sudo apt-get install build-essential
apt-get source unity-greeter
sudo apt-get build-dep unity-greeter
cd unity-greeter-0.1.1/src/
vim user-list.vala +252

Remove the line or just add // at the beginning of the line. Save and exit.

cd ..
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b
cd ..
sudo dpkg -i unity-greeter_0.1.1-0ubuntu1_*.deb

Ubuntu will try to replace the custom built package when performing a system upgrade. Just uncheck unity-greeter to keep the custom one or reinstall the custom one using 'dpkg' after the upgrade.


To prevent the package manager from replacing your custom unity-greeter just run

sudo apt-mark hold unity-greeter
  • Thanks for your answer. As you were posting, I was working on this, also. I've now posted the result in a PPA, as explained in my answer. Had I not been working on a more complete solution, I would have accepted your answer. Oct 30, 2011 at 9:51
  • No problem. A more permanent solution is always welcome. After all not all of us are comfortable working with source code.
    – Zoke
    Oct 30, 2011 at 12:19

At the moment at least this is not currently possible. I have done some reading around before and it seems to be hard coded in. Hopefully the devs will include a way to get rid of them eventually.

  • 2
    Your answer spurred me to examine the source. The grid is in fact hard coded in the file src/user-list.vala. Line 233 is the most interesting. If I get time, perhaps I'll turn the alpha all the way down and make a .deb with the modifictions. Oct 27, 2011 at 4:20
  • It is possible in 12.04 via gconf settings.
    – nem75
    Apr 22, 2012 at 10:41

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