Better looking MDM Setup
by clem 41

The MDM Setup tool was redesigned:

Screenshot from 2014-10-03 14:06:01

The new layout is similar to mintDesktop, with icons in the sidebar to access the different parts of the tool.

The concept of “greeters” was confusing to users so it was replaced by a simpler theme selection. All themes (HTML and GDM) as well as the GTK greeter are now available from the same list.

It’s also worth noting the addition of a new button (the one with the cog) to launch the login screen and thus quickly visualize the active theme.

41 thoughts on “Better looking MDM Setup

  1. Anand Oct 3,2014 12:37

    Clem – Looks neat and elegant. I think, it is worth adding ‘Restore to Default Config?. Useful, for instance in case of resuming using mdmrecovery after any failure.

    Nice to see the preview option implemented. Also, eager to see a spices like repo for MDM soon. Thanks for all your hard work.

    P.S. – Am not an UX expert but cog seems more like Settings to me. Maybe you meant it as’Run the selected them’. A play icon would suit better?

    • clem Oct 3,2014 13:29

      Hi Anand, I tried a play icon at first and it didn’t look nice. Also note that these buttons have a tooltip on them.

      • Anand Oct 3,2014 13:39

        Hmm…Okies. Incidentally, I was wondering couple of days ago perhaps you would PictureChooserButton (like Cinnamon) for MDM as well. ;-) But this looks far better as it more details needs to be shown here.

        P.S. I hope you would review other suggestions as well. :-)

      • Washington Oct 3,2014 16:30

        Hi Clem and Anand.

        What about an eye icon instead?

  2. Dan Oct 3,2014 15:26

    I noted that all login screen types (mdm, gdm, html) are present in the same list, nice!

    What is under “Options”? Can we again include/exclude users from the login UserList?

    Last, if I could help for programming I’m offering my participation.

    Thanks for all!

    • clem Oct 5,2014 14:17

      Hi Dan,

      Yes you can, but in mdm.conf directly, not with the graphical tool.

      • Brian Jun 25,2015 03:04

        Just a thought.. This will be nice to integrate into the Users and Group dialog, instead of tucking this away in the mdm.conf file. This seems like something that groups are made for, so perhaps a checkbox that puts a user into an mdm inclusion group by default (or a checkbox to put them into an exclusion group, but that’s weird). The Users and Groups dialog seems to get the list of valid users correct, just like mdm does too. (i.e. not the special accounts such as adm, root, mysql, nobody, etc and those accounts with no valid shell).

  3. CarlBiologist Oct 3,2014 16:41

    I just want to say I recently made the leap from Windows to Linux because of how terrible Windows 8 is. After trying many different distro/DE combinations I finally settled on LinuxMint Cinnamon. It’s by far the most usable and elegant OS I’ve ever seen. Anybody who has contributed to the project should be extremely proud of themselves.

  4. SamuraiSan Oct 3,2014 19:40

    Dear Clem,

    This is really great idea – I was confused too…- so thank you ;) you read in my mind…

    And I think i can write here about the other 2 posts, they are brilliant too. The changable color themes, and the backround slideshows(i was thinking why it hasn’t been implemented yet)

    I wish i could help you guys somehow, I would love to, but dont know any programming :S.

    Thanks for all your work. All of you.
    You did a great job.
    Mint is, excactly what i was looking for all these years.
    I’ve used starting with norton comander? in dos,win3.1,win95,win98,winME,winXP,win7,ubuntu,debian-not so long.
    So I can say, I have experience… i saw things, wow… hard to imagine… :D

  5. Pjotr Oct 3,2014 21:44

    Nice! Thanks. Mint becomes even more beautiful. :-)

    Maybe you can add a guest session to mdm as well, like lightdm has? On some machines I had to switch to lightdm because I really needed a guest session on them….

    • clem Oct 5,2014 14:19

      Hi Pjotr,

      We made no progress on guest sessions yet but it’s in our roadmap. In brief, nothing says it will be done for Mint 17.1, but it’s something we want to do at some stage in the future.

  6. Tihomir Oct 3,2014 22:01

    Not trying to undermine your tremendous work in Linux Mint, but I can’t help but notice that system settings, options and various tweaks are a bit scattered. Wouldn’t it be (arguably) better to have everything at centralized settings center? That way all settings and tweaks would be in one place, with unified layout, right under one’s fingertips. Could I get your opinion on that matter?

    • JosephM Oct 4,2014 19:03

      A little curious. What settings are scattered around. In Cinnamon most all the settings are together in Cinnamon Settings. Not as familiar with Mate or Xfce but from what I remember they both have some sort of centralized system settings that all of the settings are available from.

      • Tihomir Oct 6,2014 12:57

        Sory for not being clear, will try to explain.
        1. regarding unified layout:
        When you are positioned in System Settings window and you select a setting (for example Account details, but almost any other setting) window size will change instead remaining the same. PS sometimes pressing backspace isn’t working for returning to System Settings window.
        2. regarding centralizing settings:
        When you select Login Settings aka MDM Setup (but basicly any setting under administration group, also printers, startup programs, languages, ), entirely new window is opened, while System Settings window is pushed in background.

  7. Wando Oct 4,2014 01:21


    Correct me if i’m wrong: Now that the new releases will be based on the same ubuntu core, you don’t need to wait the new ubuntu version do launch the Mint 18, right?

    When will Mint 18 arrive?

    Cheers, and keep the good work!

    • clem Oct 5,2014 14:20

      Well the next release is 17.1, and as you said it’s not tied to the Ubuntu release cycle. We’re still aiming at the end of November though, it’s good for us to keep a cycle.

      • Wando Oct 7,2014 00:22

        I agree. Excuse-me, I’m anxious to upgrade and get my hands on this brand new version!

  8. Gabriel Oct 4,2014 03:32

    Hi Clem

    In the screnshot it looks like you can select your own background image. Can you select a different background image for the default mdm theme or can you only have the greenish background?

    Overall though…I am really liking these new improvements in Cinnamon. I will have a VM ready to test the release candidate of 17.1. :)

    • Anand Oct 5,2014 06:16

      I believe, background seen is defined by themes. I guess, the background defined here in MDM Login Preferences is when the display resolution does not match or in case of multi-monitor setups or shown when theme itself is not loaded.

      An aside – Check here for details on a theme where image locations can be given in a config file and allows some customizations.

    • clem Oct 5,2014 14:23

      Hi Gabriel,

      It depends on the theme and whether it paints the entire screen or not (Mint-X does).

      Note that we’re planning to change the background in the Mint-X theme though. On some hardware the animation is too costly on CPU. We’re looking into migrating to a background slideshow instead.

  9. Caner Oct 5,2014 21:09

    Some bug related to menu in cinnamon.

    In my old computer sometimes I click the menu button and move the mouse up before the menu pops up (this is possible in old hardware, and right after login). And then, when the menu pops, it thinks that I have clicked to the place where my mouse is currently pointing.

    I tried to make it short. Let me know if you need better explanation.

  10. Lando Calrissian Oct 5,2014 22:31

    Hi Clem and Mint team and thanks for great work!

    I got a great idea I think. Why don’t you make the theme selection window in Cinnamon look like MDM?

    This MDM window looks very neat. Theme selection looks like a touch based mess like this:

    You should place Controls, Icons, Window Borders, Mouse Pointer, Desktop on the left side like in the MDM window. Then you should have a scrollable list on the right side just like MDM window.

    Just my two cents. This MDM window has perfect layout. Why not implement it for theme selection too?

  11. Robert Oct 8,2014 09:00

    Hi Clem. When will Mint have better dual monitor support? (taskbar on both screens)

  12. mrman Oct 10,2014 11:39

    Hi Clem + others.

    Im not sure where to log feature requests best. I have one though you can move it if you want to the right area.

    on the shutdown menu there is a 60 second countdown .. i often use it at night to get sorted whilst all my computer lights are on and i can see ( yes like most i compute at night in a very dark room ) ..

    it got me thinking. The shutdown menu is the ideal place to put a basic shutdown timer!

    so you can choose 60seconds, 120seconds, 5mins , 10mins on a radio button or pull down menu.


    • Anand Oct 11,2014 01:32

      Hi – The automatic countdown timer is gone now and it waits till you take an action. For what you’re looking for, you could have a look at session manager / quit applets in Spices site and suggest it to applet owners, greater chance of it getting implemented shortly.

  13. jaderiver Oct 14,2014 21:05

    Hi mrman…

    If you like using the terminal regularly for certain tasks, like me, then you can use the “shutdown” command and specify the time, like

    sudo shutdown now

    sudo shutdown +20 (will shutdown in 20 minutes)

    In terminal, see

    “shutdown –help”

    for all the options.

    You need not type in your terminal command every time, but just use the up arrow to bring up the same time-specified command again.

    Interesting to see the new MDM ideas. I am not experiencing, because at the moment I am just trying to rebuild my OS from a Mint Maya MATE DVD (reinstallation). This segfault news popped up while I was using the live CD’s Firefox. Can’t wait to experience newer features, either through backporting or trying Qiana/Rebecca. They look real nice!

  14. jaderiver Oct 14,2014 21:07

    Oops… that’s “shutdown –help”

  15. Alex Oct 27,2014 18:24

    If monitor is rotated on 90 degrees it is impossible to rotate login page.

    Will it be fixed?

    • clem Oct 28,2014 11:41

      Well… see, you configure this in ~/.config/monitors.xml typically… so that configuration is user-specific and thus not usable by MDM.

      What you can do is try and add calls to xrandr in /etc/mdm/Init/Default (which is called by the mdm user before the greeter is shown) or in /etc/mdm/SuperInit/Default (even before, and called as root).

      Here’s an example which calls syndaemon (in Init/Default, at the end, just before the “exit 0”):

      DISPLAY=:0 /usr/bin/syndaemon -d -i 1.0 -t -K -R

  16. Kaiwan Dec 9,2014 06:24

    Hi Clem,

    Firstly, many congrats on the super Mint distro to all contributors!

    I have a kind of unrelated question: as I could not receive a satisfactory answer elsewhere, I thought I’ll check here; the qs is currently posted on StackExchange here:

    Request your help!

  17. Kaiwan Dec 10,2014 08:41

    @mtwebster : thanks so much. This definitely helps! Will post back (with creds to you) on SE. Best, Kaiwan.

  18. kaiwan Dec 13,2014 12:48


    Am trying to customize my Linux Mint desktop programatically. I know how to create desktop icons from the CLI but How can I fix the position (x,y) of desktop launcher icons from the CLI?? I’ve tried searching for a config file of some sort but haven’t uncovered anything..


  19. Jacy Dec 19,2014 15:52

    Hey, maybe you can help. I’ve been looking across the web and can’t seem to find an answer for my issue. Issue being: For some reason, when I’ve got my laptop docked, the login window doesn’t fill the external monitor. Instead, it sizes itself appropriately for the laptop screen. Now, the resolution is set properly on the monitor…in that everything is rendered at native resolution. It’s just that the login window itself (the background, etc) takes up only a portion of the screen real-estate. I can move the mouse and see the pointer across the entire screen, but the login window is effectively not maximized. How can I change this? I looked at xrandr (and played with using it in mdm Defaults), but since the screen is actually set to the proper resolution, I don’t think that is the path to solving my problem. Instead, I need the theme (Mint-X in my case) to size the login window appropriately (e.g. fullscreen). How do I tell the login window to use all the available screen real-estate?

    Fwiw, as soon as I login, Cinnamon uses the full screen just fine, it’s only the login window itself which is for some reason thinking it has a small little box it needs to stay inside of.

    So, deets: I’m running Mint 17.1, fully updated, 64bit (clean install). It’s an Intel graphics chip in the laptop, so, no native driver issues. I’ve tried changing to other themes but no joy…it’s almost like MDM statically chose the size for the login window and isn’t doing a dynamic resize of the window to match the resolution. My mdm Defaults file is the distro version…I inserted some xrandr stuff, but reverted to the original when that didn’t make any difference. Thanks!

  20. Kaiwan Jan 2,2015 13:09


    (Continuing): am (still) trying to customize my Linux Mint desktop programatically.
    Some success… but..

    1. I have created a new theme (new icons, cursors, wallpaper); I know how to use gsettings to setup my custom wallpaper; eg.

    gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri 'file:///usr/share/backgrounds/mywallpaper.png'

    But am stuck trying to get the default theme for icons and cursors (‘Mint-X’) to change to my theme!
    I can do so manually : Settings / Themes / Other settings : click pulldown menu for Icons, Window borders, Mourse Pointer and select the one I want.
    My qs is: how can I achieve this programatically??

    2. How exactly does one programatically change the startup splash screen / logo (from the green Mint to my own), and similarly, the shutdown one??

    Hey, TIA!
    – Kaiwan.

    • mtwebster Jan 2,2015 15:11

      To change the boot splash (the one after grub but before the login screen), you’ll have to mess with the configuration of ‘plymouth.’ It’s a bit of a pain in the butt, but there are plenty of tutorials/instructions around to figure it out.

      You can change the theme settings for Cinnamon via the following keys:

      Icon theme: org.cinnamon.desktop.interface icon-theme ‘xxx’
      Gtk theme: org.cinnamon.desktop.interface gtk-theme ‘xxx’
      Metacity (window borders): org.cinnamon.desktop.wm.preferences theme ‘xxx’
      Mouse: org.cinnamon.desktop.interface cursor-theme ‘xxx’
      Cinnamon (panels, etc..): org.cinnamon.theme name ‘xxx’

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