The Best Linux Lockscreen

Robert Washbourne - 2 years ago - themes

To be honest, the default lock screens, also known as greeters or display managers (when the lockscreen also manages the boot login), can leave looks to be desired on pretty much every Linux distribution. To fix that, we have several options - theme the lock screen you already have, change the lock screen, or login automatically and use another option such as i3lock.

This guide shows you how to change the login screen background, edit the login screen font, use a login screen gtk theme, and change your user manager. This guide has sections for most major display managers, but the GDM guide has the most detail.

Theming your lockscreen

Typically the easiest option. The options below are for a few of the most popular display managers.

GDM Display Manager

First back up the current theme:

sudo cp -v /usr/share/gnome-shell/gnome-shell-theme.gresource{,~}

Note: Ubuntu 17+ uses a GDM config that is different than the default setup. If the following setup does not work for you please comment and I will try to help. All of the scripts I link below work for me on a fresh Fedora 27 system.

Now you have a few options. If you simply want to change the font on your login manager or change the background, you can use my script:

Editing the current theme

Download the scripts on the DevPy GitHub: devpytech/scripts/gresource-extract. Then run ./ to extract your current theme to the "theme" folder in the same folder as the extract script.

Editing the font

Edit gnome-shell.css. Change the font to your custom font. E.g:

stage {
  font-family: 'Source Sans Pro', Sans-Serif;
  font-size: 14px;
  color: #eeeeec;

Editing the background

Copy a background to the theme folder. Then edit gnome-shell.css and change the #lockDialogGroup section to the filename of your image. E.g:

#lockDialogGroup {
  background: #2e3436 url(resource:///org/gnome/shell/theme/background.jpg);
  background-size: cover;
  background-repeat: none;

Building & enabling

Run the ./ file from DevPy's GitHub. This will create a .gresource file in the theme folder.

Finally, override the current gresource (make sure you have backed up the current file):

sudo mv gnome-shell-theme.gresource /usr/share/gnome-shell/gnome-shell-theme.gresource

My result:

Custom Lockscreen

Using your GTK Theme

My favourite method is to match the GTK theme by building a gresource file.

Here are a few results for themes I have tested:


Arc theme lockscreen


Pop theme lockscreen


Vertex theme lockscreen

You can build your own using my script here: devpytech/gtk-gresource.

I've included prebuilt gresource files for the following themes:

  • Arc
  • Arc-Dark
  • EvoPop
  • Pop
  • Pop-dark
  • Vertex


git clone
cd gtk-gresource

# Replace Arc with the theme you want to use
./ Arc
./ Arc

After a reboot the theme should show on login and lock.

LightDM Display Manager

LightDM is probably the second most popular display manager, after GDM. To install a theme, install both lightdm and lightdm-webkit2-greeter through your package manager. Then, navigate to /usr/share/lightdm-webkit/themes/ through the terminal or a root file manager and copy the theme files there. Once finished, enable the theme in your /etc/lightdm/lightdm-webkit2-greeter.conf by setting webkit-theme.


Material LightDM theme




Aether LightDM Theme




Litarvan LightDM theme



SDDM Display Manager

SDDM is a display manager written from scratch. It's best known for being the default with KDE Plasma 5. To install an SDDM theme, simply move it to /usr/share/sddm/themes/, making sure that the folder name is the same as the theme name. You can enable a theme by editing /etc/sddm.conf under the [Theme] section and changing Current to the theme name.


Aerial SDDM Theme

Aerial uses gifs on the lockscreen in the style of Apple TV screensavers.




Deepin SDDM Theme



Changing your Display Manager

This option will change the way you login ... forever. Or at least until you change back. Once you have installed a display manager, the way you change to it depends on your linux distribution. On Ubuntu, run "sudo dpkg-reconfigure gdm3" replacing gdm3 with the current display manager.


You can install GDM with the following:


sudo apt install gdm3


sudo dnf install gdm


sudo pacman -S gdm

On other distributions, try searching gdm in the package manager.


You can install GDM with the following:


sudo apt install lightdm


sudo dnf install lightdm


sudo pacman -S lightdm

On other distributions, try searching lightdm in the package manager.


You can install SDDM with the following:


sudo apt install sddm


sudo dnf install sddm


sudo pacman -S sddm

On other distributions, try searching sddm in the package manager.

Not Using a Display Manager At All

If you like to login with the console, you can simply disable the Display Manager services:

sudo service gdm disable
sudo service lightdm disable

Linux console login shell

If you use this option, I suggest that you install a screenlocker / screensaver to help avoid screwing up your monitor (keeping the same image on the monitor for a long time can freeze some pixels).


XScreenSaver ships with most distributions, but if you don't have it, instructions can be found here. Theming is rather rudimentary but you can change the colours by editing ~/.Xresources.


Probably my favourite screen locker, i3lock is simple and has many derivations to choose from. My favourite derivation is i3lock-colors to customize the look and image.


i3lock default lock screen

My custom wallpaper conserving script

i3lock lock screen preserving background


scrot /tmp/screen.png
xwobf -s 11 /tmp/screen.png
i3lock -i /tmp/screen.png
rm /tmp/screen.png

And that's it! If you want to go back to the defaults, simply re-enable GDM or LightDM.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share your custom login setup in the comments below.