May 03

KDE SC 4.4 is out in the wild for some time now. It comes with a new Kdm theme called Ethais (Author=Roman Shtylman) and a new Ksplash Screen (Authors = Nuno Pinheiro, Riccardo Iaconelli and Marco Martin).

Lately I was trying to achieve a more unified login experience on my pc. I was thinking that a change of the background of both the KDM Login screen and of the Splash screen that follows would do the trick. In the process I learned a few more things that I decided to share with all the co-n00bs out there. :)

Let me point out here that to gain a more unified experience from boot until your desktop is loaded, you can also modify the GRUB screen and the OS Loading screen (many distros have started using Plymouth for this), but that depends on your version of GRUB and the Distribution  you use. You will be better off asking for help on your distros’ forums. Below I will only present some of the changes that can be done to KDE 4.4.

Before you Start:

  • To accomplish the changes described here you need to open the directory as root. The easiest way is to that is to run “sudo dolphin” in a terminal to open Dolphin as root user, however be careful not to make any other changes that you will regret.
  • If you want to keep the default folders in case you wish to go back to the default settings, you can always backup them or check the following tip.
  • You can copy the original folder to another location before making any changes. Rename it as you wish, go ahead with the modifications, and then compress the folder to create a themename.tar.gz file. Then you can  install the themes through System Settings.
    For KDM go to System Settings>Advance Tab>Login Manager>Theme
    For  Ksplash go to System Settings> Appearance>Splash Screen
    You can even share these tar files with friends, just make sure to include the wallpaper of their resolution or tell them to change it after.

KDE Display Manager:
The files of the default KDE SC 4.4 KDM are located in this folder:


Files of themes installed later by a user are located at:

/home/USERNAME OF USER/.kde/share/apps/kdm/themes

You can switch any icon  here with one of your choice. You can even mix and match with icons from other themes, which you can download from Have in mind that you need to name the new icon file to be exactly like the one your replacing.

I like this login so I did not change anything. I only replaced the background to match my desktop. To do this, go to the wallpapers folder and replace the file that corresponds to your resolution, always keeping the same name.

If you feel more adventurous you can open up the ethais.xml file with a text editor and play around with the configuration. Am not that demanding, I just found the theme that I liked and played around with the pictures I wanted to add. But it doesn’t look that complicated if you are into this kind of stuff!

KSplash Screen:

You can find the files here:

Files of themes installed later by a user are located at:

/home/USERNAME OF USER/.kde/share/apps/ksplash/themes

Again you can mix and match. You can get more splash screens here. The rule remains: when replacing, keep the same filenames of the original files.

I went ahead and replaced the background file in the folder of my resolution with the one of my choice. In addition, I am using Chakra, so I wanted to replace the last icon displaying the KDE logo (icon 5 in the pic), with the Chakra logo.  The icons can be found in the 1600×1200 folder. I found the logo and the anim file in Chakra’s splash screen. However, the KDE icon is much larger, so I had to make some minor changes in the description.txt file, which is in the same folder, for everything to look as I wanted. The description.txt is quite simple and self-explanatory so you can easily manipulate it. Just some numbers that configurate the position of the icons and the time they appear.


To my great joy, while searching a bit around to write this article I discovered KSplasherX. It comes with a friendly wizard and 6 easy steps to help you create your own unique Splash Screen. It even generates the animated icons for you! It may be kind of out-dated and has some limited features, but I tested it on my KDE 4.4 system and it works just fine. It saves the result to a .tar.gz file which you can use for installing the new splash screen. You can find information on how to install KSplasherX in the README after you extract the source file. I just hope it is still an active project!

It would be so nice to have an application similar to KSplasherX for creating and editing KDM Themes! If you know one please leave a comment below!

The Final Result:

Well, after all these, this is what I get on my pc:

For those that use a browser without HTML5 support, you can watch the video here.


21 Responses to “Elementary Modification of the KDESC 4.4 Default Login (KDM & KSplash)”

  1. John says:

    Thanks for this! I’m brand new with KDE so this spelled out some of the basics quite nicely. :) Of course it made perfect sense once I read it.. but that’s how these things go I suppose. ;)

  2. Alan says:

    Great wallpaper… :) Simple and pretty.

  3. Adolph says:

    I seriously love your website.. Great colors & theme. Did you build this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create my very own site and would love to learn where you got this from or exactly what the theme is called. Kudos!

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