How to change the Ubuntu login screen

This brief tutorial will guide you through changing the Ubuntu login screen, and provide a few resources so that you can download some additional themes.

  1. First up, you’ll want to find a login theme or two that appeal to you. has plenty, and provides a number of ways to sort through them (most popular, highest rated, alphabetical etc). Once you’ve found a login theme that you like, download it – but don’t decompress the tar.gz file. Just remember where you saved it.

    From the Ubuntu menu, select System -> Administration -> Login Window.

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  3. When prompted, enter your password.
  4. From the Login Window Preferences screen, select the Local tab. Then click the + Add button.

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  6. Navigate to the login screen theme that you downloaded, select it, and click the Install button.

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  8. Now your newly installed login theme will be listed along with the others. Select it (and make sure no others are selected) and click the Close button.

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  10. Save any open work you have, then log out of your current session. Your new login theme will appear when you have to log back in. That’s it!

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  • Dan

    i go to system, admin then login screen and it only give me the option to auto log in or not. no option to add any type of theme?

  • nukan

    eso es solo en ubuntu 9.4 ahora en ubuntu 9.10 es una pura mierda yo me entre a coñazo y no lo consegi

  • Tanya

    When I choose Login Screen It says to unlock but all I get is to choose if I want someone to be logged in automatically and how long someone else has to log in as a different person. There is no choice for changing the loggin screen looks. What do I do?

  • oostue

    same deal, I don’t have “login window” just “login screen” with no options.

  • Paulo

    I have the same problem,

    No “login window” in “system->administration.

  • nikan

    eso es solo para Ubuntu 9.4 pero para 9.10 a cambiado demaciado el prosedimiento es tanto que no se puede hacer lo que en el pos esplican asi no sirbe nada

  • Isaias

    yes…. it works on ubuntu 9.4 > , but … do u know how to change the login screen on ubuntu 9.10?….. thx bro :)

  • oscar

    how to install login window? i have ubuntu 9.10

  • Ubuntu Master.

    Here’s how you change it.
    Go to the log in screen, but don’t log in. Press Ctrl, Alt, f5.
    Type in your log in username and password. ( you can’t see your password when you type.)
    Wait until it all loads.
    Then type export DISPLAY=:0.0 (display must be in caps.)
    Then type in the code: sudo -u gdm gnome-control-center.
    Press ctrl alt f7.
    Now go to appearance to change the login screen.
    Finally when your done close out of everything and there is your log in screen.
    That was sort of easy. >-<
    No thanks required.)

  • nikan

    this is not working I get foulbrood Unique-DBus-WARNING **: Unable to open a connection to the session bus: Failed to connect to socket / tmp / dbus-IcoMgDjoGA: Connection refused

  • Ubuntu Master.

    Did you press ctrl+alt+f7 after. I’m pretty sure that usually happens. Try it again.

  • nikan

    tengo ubuntu 9.10 y eso solo funciona en 9.04 si tienes el 9.10 y lo lograste hacer te felicito, pero yo nolo e podido hacer

  • Ubuntu Master.

    Oye hace que te dije. OK. Eso es como lo haces. yo se que tu puedes hablar ingles. Ok eso es como tu lo puedes hacer. Trabajo para mi. Ok

  • nikan

    look and indeed of all manner and not left anything to me, this is not the only page that visited do not feel bad, it’s all thanks for your answer thanks

  • Ubuntu Master.

    Dude are you sure that you have ubuntu, or do you have kubuntu. That is very important.

  • nikan

    I have ubuntu 9.10. you have ubuntu 9.10. and I worked

  • Alex Smith

    yea ok i did those steps and i still dont get the login window. yes im using ubuntu. yes iv done this twice. so what do i do?

  • mnutz

    I am also using Ubuntu 9.10 and I also get an error when trying to put the above in. My error:

    (gnome-control-center:4111): Unique-DBus-WARNING **: Unable to open a connection to the session bus. Failed to connect to socket /tmp/dbus-JXvnuCPHJ1: Connection refused.

  • harvey

    I am getting the exact same error as ^^

  • Chris

    What happened to this awesome screen in 10.04? All the useful features are gone!

  • ubuntu lover

    I’m also using ubuntu 9.10 and i did all steps Ubuntu Master said. But when i went to appearence, the login screen i wanted to use was said as unvalid file type. i had downloaded and saved it on desktop before doing these steps. what can i do? should i save the login screen in a specific file type?

  • Fraudfinder

    DO NOT FOLLOW UBUNTU MASTER.’S INSTRUCTIONS. this will screw up your computer.

    Instead, do this:
    gksudo -u gdm dbus-launch gnome-appearance-properties
    That will bring you to your typical background selection but don’t be alarmed, select the new login background and close it as normal. logout to reset.

  • Chris

    Thanks, that worked perfectly. I’d still like to know why the Ubuntu devs got rid of that wonderfully useful Login Windows Preferences dialog…

  • Fraudfinder

    I’m glad it worked. I don’t understand why either; I think the problem might lie with gnome. I believe this change is in direct opposition to the spirit of Linux.

  • Tylër

    Quando eu clico em ‘tela de login’, me aparece a opção de desbloquear ou fechar
    Eu desbloqueio, informo a senha mas só me aparecem opções básicas sobre o login, nada de abas…

    Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

  • @Fraudfinder
    It seems this option no longer exists in 10.04 LTS
    I’ve tried the command in Terminal and I get
    (gnome-appearance-properties:19961): Gdk-CRITICAL **: gdk_display_sync: assertion `GDK_IS_DISPLAY (display)’ failed
    the appearance options come up but no login window tab…
    This is very puzzling

  • Gayan

    how to change the login screen in ubuntu 10.04?? please somebody tell me. there is no feature in login screen to do so.

  • Bert

    Sorry about the post above that’s more for those who want to change the Usplash screens (plymouth themes)
    But if you want to change the login screen here’s how.
    First open a Terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) then copy+paste the following line:

    sudo cp /usr/share/applications/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow

    Now close the Terminal window and logout, when logged out the Appearance window pops up. Here you can make the changes you want (in theme tab you can click on anything and it’ll change the lil login box, you’ll see what i mean if you click anything and in background tab it changes the background aka wallpaper of the login screen) and when your done you can login as usual. To prevent the Appearance Manager from opening when you login, open a Terminal window (Applications -> Accessories -> Terminal) then copy+paste the following line:

    sudo unlink /usr/share/gdm/autostart/LoginWindow/gnome-appearance-properties.desktop

  • thank’s…my syster…

  • Nano

    thanks Fredo, it works in last ubuntu release ( 10.04 )



  • Stazzy

    @ Bert,
    Thank you, works fine with 10.04.

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