How to change Background, GDM 3 and Grub 2 themes in Debian Squeeze

Without going into the rights and wrongs as to whether a space ship should be default theme for Debian Squeeze I for one needed to change it. The only thing I want to say on the matter is that then Debian Lenny was the first and only default Linux theme I have kept. I loved it completely, it was clean, fresh and sexy!

So for a temporary work around I was using the Flow wall paper, the only thing I did not like about it is that there was no beloved Debian symbol.

Step 1:  Create my media:

Of course you can use a range of formats and scales but here is what worked best for me. (BTW you can not upload tga files which is required for Grub; simply save via GIMP as a TGA file.)

For resizing I have  a nifty nautilus extension application which adds a resize and rotate option into the context menu.

The flow image has the background as transparency. I was not convinced that GRUB 2 or GDM 3 would support transparency or whether it was possible to configure a background colour within them. I decided it was easier to work without transparency. The default background colour for Debian (or there abouts ) which I had become accustomed to is:  Hue: 20; Sat: 30; Value: 58 or R 104; G 128; B 147.

I added a Debian logo, Debian text (from logo)and played around with the drop shadow plug-in, transparency, colour etc and came up with the following design.

This suited as my background paper. GDM 3 and Grub 2 require the following formats:

GDM 3:  PNG image with dimension of 1024×640

Grub 2: TGA  image 640 x 400

Their location is not of to much importance but I placed mine in /usr/share/images/.

It might be worthwhile here to note that it might be good to make backup copies of any files before you edit them.

Step 2: Configure GDM 3

This is simply achieved by editing the file


Add in your picture here.

/desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename      /usr/share/images/DebianFlowLogin.png

Step 3:  Configure Grub 3

This is achieved by editing the following file:


Add in your picture here:


Update Grub:


That is pretty much it.

I could not upload a tga file to wordpress but here are the login and wallpaper screens.


3 thoughts on “How to change Background, GDM 3 and Grub 2 themes in Debian Squeeze

  1. And why you do not try update-alternatives –config desktop-grub ?

    of yourse, first install new alternative – IMHO it is better than change files from any package 🙂

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