6.7. The X Display Manager

Contributed by Seth Kingsley.

Xorg provides an X Display Manager, XDM, which can be used for login session management. XDM provides a graphical interface for choosing which display server to connect to and for entering authorization information such as a login and password combination.

This section demonstrates how to configure the X Display Manager on FreeBSD. Some desktop environments provide their own graphical login manager. Refer to Section 6.8.1, “GNOME” for instructions on how to configure the GNOME Display Manager and Section 6.8.2, “KDE” for instructions on how to configure the KDE Display Manager.

6.7.1. Configuring XDM

To install XDM, use the x11/xdm package or port. Once installed, XDM can be configured to run when the machine boots up by editing this entry in /etc/ttys:

ttyv8   "/usr/local/bin/xdm -nodaemon"  xterm   off secure

Change the off to on and save the edit. The ttyv8 in this entry indicates that XDM will run on the ninth virtual terminal.

The XDM configuration directory is located in /usr/local/lib/X11/xdm. This directory contains several files used to change the behavior and appearance of XDM, as well as a few scripts and programs used to set up the desktop when XDM is running. Table 6.1, “XDM Configuration Files” summarizes the function of each of these files. The exact syntax and usage of these files is described in xdm(1).

Table 6.1. XDM Configuration Files
FileDescription
XaccessThe protocol for connecting to XDM is called the X Display Manager Connection Protocol (XDMCP) This file is a client authorization ruleset for controlling XDMCP connections from remote machines. By default, this file does not allow any remote clients to connect.
XresourcesThis file controls the look and feel of the XDM display chooser and login screens. The default configuration is a simple rectangular login window with the hostname of the machine displayed at the top in a large font and Login: and Password: prompts below. The format of this file is identical to the app-defaults file described in the Xorg documentation.
XserversThe list of local and remote displays the chooser should provide as login choices.
XsessionDefault session script for logins which is run by XDM after a user has logged in. Normally each user will have a customized session script in ~/.xsession that overrides this script
Xsetup_*Script to automatically launch applications before displaying the chooser or login interfaces. There is a script for each display being used, named Xsetup_*, where * is the local display number. Typically these scripts run one or two programs in the background such as xconsole.
xdm-configGlobal configuration for all displays running on this machine.
xdm-errorsContains errors generated by the server program. If a display that XDM is trying to start hangs, look at this file for error messages. These messages are also written to the user's ~/.xsession-errors file on a per-session basis.
xdm-pidThe running process ID of XDM.

6.7.2. Configuring Remote Access

By default, only users on the same system can login using XDM. To enable users on other systems to connect to the display server, edit the access control rules and enable the connection listener.

To configure XDM to listen for any remote connection, comment out the DisplayManager.requestPort line in /usr/local/lib/X11/xdm/xdm-config by putting a ! in front of it:

! SECURITY: do not listen for XDMCP or Chooser requests
! Comment out this line if you want to manage X terminals with xdm
DisplayManager.requestPort:     0

Save the edits and restart XDM. To restrict remote access, look at the example entries in /usr/local/lib/X11/xdm/Xaccess and refer to xdm(1) for further information.

All FreeBSD documents are available for download at http://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/

Questions that are not answered by the documentation may be sent to <freebsd-questions@FreeBSD.org>.
Send questions about this document to <freebsd-doc@FreeBSD.org>.