Login screens are something that often get overlooked on a machine because at most we spend a few seconds every day staring at them. But they are important not only because of the security they offer, but because of the loading time they can add to a system boot.
Canonical has decided it is going to change the login manager it uses for Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) from the Gnome Display Manager (GDM) to the Light Display Manager (LightDM). This is a significant change for two reasons. The first is one of size, and as the name implies LightDM is much more lightweight than GDM. While GDM consists of around 50,000 lines of code, LightDM only has 5,000 for effectively doing the same job. LightDM is meant to be very fast meaning it could have a positive impact on boot times.
The second reason is one of customization. LightDM has a range of easy to use options allowing you to tweak how the login screen looks and reacts to your input. This is best demonstrated by looking at some mock-ups created by Andrew over at the whyareyoureadingthisurl blog.
Where as the current Ubuntu login screen may look like this:
With LightDM and a bit of tinkering we could see something like this:
Andrew also put together a few videos showing whatÂ’s possible due to LightDM being easy to play with. While Ubuntu may decide what we are going to see by default in Ubuntu 11.10, at least we know they have a lot of options to play with once the install or upgrade is complete.
LightDM list Â“fully themeableÂ” as a feature of the system, so Canonical may ship 11.10 with a bunch of the communityÂ’s favorite themes to use. With 3D TVs now available itÂ’s good to know LightDM also supports a 3D interface.