Configuring KDM to display customized user images on the login screen.
KDM is the KDE graphical login manager, used by default on most KDE-centric distributions even if you prefer a different desktop environment (DE) or window manager. It functions similarly to other well-known login managers such as xdm and gdm.
In keeping with the KDE project generally, KDM is highly customizable via either directly editing a configuration file or a graphical configuration tool. How the KDM configuration tool is opened is DE-specific. For example, I use Xfce 4.10, so I open it from the menu at Tools – System Tools – System Settings – System Administration – Login Screen.
One available option for KDM is to display generic or customized user images on the login screen. Here I document how to replace the generic images with custom ones. There are several ways to achieve this, but I like my method because once done, each user can change his own image without bothering the sysadmin.
First, insure that KDM is displaying generic user images. If it isn’t, open the configuration tool as described above and configure it appropriately. Log out to the KDM login screen and check your work. You should now see a generic icon associated with each user.
Next, create the desired image for yourself. I use a 64×64 PNG with RLE encoding. Save it to your home directory as ~/.face.icon. Notice the leading dot. Again, log out to the KDM login screen to check your work. You should now see your image associated with your username. Repeat this step for each user, taking care to save each user’s image file with his own permissions.
Once done, any user can easily change his login image by editing or replacing his ~/.face.icon file.
TIPS AND TRICKS
On one installation of Mageia 2 and KDE 4.8, putting .face.icon files in place was insufficient. I then had to open the KDM configuration tool, go to the Users tab, and follow these instructions to manually select an image for each user. Upon selecting each image, I received an error message and the user’s image shown in the configuration tool did not change. This presumably was because I opened the configuration tool as a user and not as root. Nonetheless, when I logged out to the KDM login screen, user images appeared as desired.
“Users” in the KDM Handbook. If the KDM Handbook is not installed on your computer, it should be in your distribution’s repositories with a name such as (e.g. in Mageia) kdm-handbook. Many distributions have a metapackage to install all of KDE’s handbooks; on Mageia it is named task-kde4-handbooks.