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Hack 18. Double Your GDM (GNOME) Login Screens

Set up the graphical login manager GDM to run on two different screens when you boot the computer.

This hack will set up GDM to run on two different screens when you boot the computer. One user can log in from one login screen, and if another user wants to jump in and do some work, he can log in from the second login screen. You're not limited to two login screens, but the more sessions you run, the more processor power and memory are needed. Performance shouldn't be a problem on most modern systems, however.

If your Linux distribution runs GNOME by default rather than KDE, or if you're using Fedora, you're probably also using the GDM graphical login manager to log in. This might be true even if you don't use GNOME as your desktop, because distributions that favor GNOME tend to use GDM.

In this case, you need to locate the configuration file called gdm.conf to make the changes necessary to enable multiple simultaneous desktop users. Use the locate command to find out where gdm.conf is located. Type the following command as root:

# locate gdm.conf
/etc/X11/gdm/gdm.conf

Open the gdm.conf file for editing and locate the section that looks something like the following (you can jump right to this spot by searching for the text string [servers]):

[servers]
# These are the standard servers. You can add as many you want here
# and they will always be started. Each line must start with a unique
# number and that will be the display number of that server. Usually just
# the 0 server is used.
0=Standard
#1=Standard

All you have to do is remove the # comment mark before the line 1=Standard so that this section looks like the following:

[servers]
# These are the standard servers. You can add as many you want here
# and they will always be started. Each line must start with a unique
# number and that will be the display number of that server. Usually just
# the 0 server is used.
0=Standard
1=Standard

Save your changes and exit the editor. The easiest way to make sure the changes take effect is to reboot your computer. When your computer presents the graphical login screen, you can check to make sure there are two graphical logins by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F8. If you see the same login screen, everything is working. Press Ctrl-Alt-F7 to get back to the default login screen, log in, and have fun.

If you want to have three graphical login screens (and your version of Linux supports at least nine virtual consoles, which is quite likely), simply add another line so that the section looks like this:

[servers]
# These are the standard servers. You can add as many you want here
# and they will always be started. Each line must start with a unique
# number and that will be the display number of that server. Usually just
# the 0 server is used.
0=Standard
1=Standard
2=Standard

Reboot, and look for the new graphical login screen by pressing Ctrl-Alt-F9. Theoretically, you can have several more graphical login screens. The default keyboard settings provide key combinations that will wor' ;&+淝"鴙HE' ;&+淝"鴑cluding both text and graphical logins, but Linux distributions rarely enable more than 11 virtual consoles, some as few as nine.

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