display manager - lightdm, gdm3, sddm or no display manager (startx)

Whonix 15 was using lightdm. It was removed due to autologin heisenbug. [1] [2] [3]

Therefore Whonix 16 is using gdm3. It is also a good choice because it supports wayland (and fits with Gnome, which Whonix might be ported to, depending on many things such as feasibility, resource use, please use a dedicated forum thread (none might exist yet, see [4]).

[1] autologin not work sometimes · Issue #210 · canonical/lightdm · GitHub

[2] autologin is not working every time · Issue #191 · canonical/lightdm · GitHub

[3] Heisenbug - Wikipedia

[4] Search results for 'wayland' - Whonix Forum

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If this is doable during this release cycle, then it would exceed any other benefit of switching away including reduced resource usage.

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Dunno. I’ll know when I get to it. Depends on how many / any issues caused by wayland.

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display manager requirements:

  • in packages.debian.org
  • no dependency hell
  • wayland support
  • autologin supported without heisenbug
  • no hardcoding of desktop environment required in config for autologin

Not easy to find…



  • in packages.debian.org
  • no dependency hell
  • wayland support
  • autologin supported
  • hardcoded Session=xfce config required (would be a technical debt making porting to other desktop environments harder)


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Debian bug report:
lightdm-autologin-greeter: out-comment defunct autologin-user=AUTOLOGIN-USER-NOT-CONFIGURED in /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf.d/lightdm-autologin-greeter.conf

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Yet another option might be not using any display manager and instead use startx (or its wayland equivalent).

For that purpose RAM Adjusted Desktop Starter - Kicksecure (rads) could be modified.
(Whonix is based on Kicksecure.)
If no display manager is installed and if there is enough RAM and if startx is available, start it.

How about Whonix-Host?
(Would equally apply to Kicksecure host.)

  • Pre-configured style: Should have display manager and no default autologin? Also for logon password at every boot required.
  • Minimal style: autologin using startx by default. Display manager installation, logon password setup should be left to the user?

Display manager login password has limited use anyhow when already using Full Disk Encryption (FDE)Protection against Physical Attacks.

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Might be fixed in Debian bookworm or bookworm + 1 as per Autologin in X11 does not work if session name is absolute path · Issue #1607 · sddm/sddm · GitHub.

Fixed in Debian bookworm.

Automatically rebooted a VM a few hundred times and no autologin heisenbug so far.

Whonix 15 was using gdm3.
Whonix 16 will switch back to lightdm.

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