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Customise the welcome screen

When you start linux you might go straight to the desktop and this is a useful option if you are the only person that ever has access your computer and no-one else can ever touch it, but it is more common to pause at the welcome screen. This is displayed part way through the startup process and it prompts you to select a user or enter a username and to then type in the password. There are two advantages and you can have separate accounts for each person that uses the computer and it password protects the computer so that unauthorised people are kept out.

Assuming that you boot up to the welcome screen, let's see how to customise it. In Ubuntu yoo need to run Login Window (on the System, Administration menu). Select the Local tab and there is a list of all the different welcome screen themes. It is possible to select multiple welcome screens and the system can select one at random - choose Random From Selected in the Theme drop-down list. This can be quite entertaining and there is something different each time you log in. If you prefer to have the same welcome screen each time, just select the one you want making sure that none of the others is selected. Then choose Selected Only from the Theme drop-down menu.

There are options in the window to enable you to choose whether to show the Actions menu on the welcome screen. You can also add your own text and replace the default "Welcome" message - select Custom in the dialog and type in the text that you want to display, such as "Please log in".

Select the Accessibility tab and you can choose whether to play a sound when the welcome screen appears, and on successful or failed login attempts. A default sound is already selected in Ubuntu, but you can easily change it by clicking the button and selecting a different sound file. You should choose a sound file that is in a location that everyone can access and the default is /usr/share/sounds.

On the Local tab are a couple of themes that include Face Browser. What this means is that an image is displayed next to the username on ther welcome screen. The image could be a picture of the user, hence the name Face Browser, but it could be anything that you want to display next to a user. It makes for a brighter, more attractive and simpler welcome screen. You just click on your picture and type in your password to log in.

Linux loginSelect the Users tab and you will see a list of users that are included in the Face Browser - in other words, have an image next to their username. The list will be empty at first, but we can add each user with an account by clicking the Add button. All you need to do is to enter their username.

At the moment there aren't any pictures for the users and you will see that the default face is nobody.png in Ubuntu. You will also see that the default face directory is faces. Although it doesn't give any clues as to where this is located on the hard disk drive, it is actually in /usr/share/pixmaps/faces. All you need to do to add a picture to a user on the welcome screen is to save an image in a common file format like .jpg or .png with the person's username. So if there is a user called bob then save a small image, such as a 64 x 64 pixels, called bob.jpg in the faces folder.

There is a slight snag here and if you fire up GIMP, select an image, crop and resize it to 64 x 64 pixels, and then try to save it in /usr/share/pixmaps/faces you will be told that you don't have permission to do this. The solution is to save the image in your home folder and then to move it. Open a Terminal window in your home folder and then type sudo mv bob.jpg /usr/share/pixmaps/faces. You'll be asked to enter the password and then the file will be moved. Repeat this procedure for each user's image.

Now you can log off and see the welcome screen with the Face Browser feature. It gives it a more user-friendly look and it is great for home PCs.

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