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well, the login manager is chosen via /etc/X11/prefdm. in there it checks /etc/sysconfig/desktop and according to the default, selects the DM. and then if that don't work it just uses 'which' to find them. look at the script to see where it's going wrong for you. you might want to hard code that file to just return kdm ll the time. or even back up prefdm and symlink the name to kdm.
Thanks. That was what I was looking for. /etc/sysconfig/desktop did contain KDE, but why /etc/X11/prefdm loaded xdm is still a mystery to me. I replaced all instances of xdm in /etc/X11/prefdm with kdm and it appears to be working now.