cdm: Manage desktops from the console

The bulk of my systems are console-driven, and on the one that does run a graphical environment, I don’t use a display or desktop manager or login manager. There are some very good ones out there — SLiM is something I’m familiar with, as a result of working with some ultralight distros, and Qingy is another one with a long-ish history.

But mostly the need just isn’t there. I send the boot process straight through to the desktop via /etc/inittab, and beyond that, there’s no reason for me to use a display manager.

Now if I was to use one, this is what I would install:

That’s the Console Display Manager, or CDM. It was announced in an Arch Forums thread started a couple of years ago, and began as a bash-only text-based login manager to take over the jobs of GDM, KDM, xdm, etc. As I have it installed, it still requires you to login at the prompt, but bounces you first into a menu like the one you see above, and let’s you pick your destination from there.

Configuration is in /etc/cdmrc and is very well described, so you shouldn’t run into too many problems setting it up. It’s tuned for Arch Linux of course, with a PKGBUILD in AUR, but it should be fairly easy to export to other distros — especially since it comes with practically no dependencies. ;)

One thing I would like to try, but I haven’t yet, is to cue CDM to different shells instead of desktops. It seems like it should be possible to trigger zsh or dash or what have you, in the same manner as the X environment. Again, I haven’t actually done that, but it might be a bonus for people like me, who don’t really want X in the first place. :D

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2 Responses to “cdm: Manage desktops from the console”


  1. 1 Arun 2010/06/28 at 2:01 PM

    Ive been using CDM, glad you covered it.
    Prev i used to login thro startx, but after i installed Fluxbox along with Ratpoison i needed a lightweight login manager and cdm filled up the gap.

    you could have also mentioned the availability of color themes.

  2. 2 Bryan 2010/06/28 at 10:18 PM

    I’ve rarely used a login manager, even when I’ve used heavy DMs and the like. I’ve always done something like this http://pastebin.org/363326. I also set zsh to call startx when I log into TTY1. If I want to start evilwm or Torchlight (or any of the 4 or 5 other games I exempted from the example) I would just switch to TTY2, login and issue ‘xinit torchlight’ or ‘xinit evilwm’.

    I think cdm is an admirable project, just not the project for me.


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