XScreenSaver

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XScreenSaver is a screen saver and locker for the X Window System.

Installing XScreenSaver

Install the xscreensaver package found in the official repositories.

Alternatively, there is a patched version with the Arch Linux logo in the AUR named xscreensaver-arch-logoAUR. Running this package instead of the one available in the official repositories is advantageous for several reasons:

  1. Since makepkg is compiling it from source code, the resulting package will contain processor-specific optimizations unique to your specific system -- assuming you set up your /etc/makepkg.conf with the appropriate CFLAGS and CXXFLAGS.
  2. This package is Arch-branded (screensavers, lock screen, etc.)
  3. If running GNOME, this package will provide an icon to enter the XScreenSaver preferences under System>Preferences>Screensaver whereas the package in the official repositories does not.

Configuring XScreenSaver

Global options are defined in /usr/share/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver. Under a standard setup, there is likely no need to edit this file. Instead most options are configured on a user-by-user basis simply by running xscreensaver-demo

$ xscreensaver-demo

xscreensaver-demo writes the chosen configuration in ~/.xscreensaver, discarding any manual modification to the file.

Fortunately, since at least XScreenSaver 5.22, there is another way to edit XScreenSaver's user configuration, using ~/.Xresources; see here for some examples.

DPMS settings

XScreenSaver manages display energy saving (DPMS) independently of X itself and overrides it. To configure the timings for standby, display poweroff and such, use xscreensaver-demo or edit the configuration file manually, e.g. ~/.xscreensaver,

timeout:	1:00:00
cycle:		0:05:00
lock:		False
lockTimeout:	0:00:00
passwdTimeout:	0:00:30
fade:		True
unfade:		False
fadeSeconds:	0:00:03
fadeTicks:	20
dpmsEnabled:	True
dpmsStandby:	2:00:00
dpmsSuspend:	2:00:00
dpmsOff:	4:00:00

Xresources

Control many settings by using ~/.Xresources. Defaults are located in /usr/share/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver.

Below are all the valid Xresources for version 5.22.

from: driver/XScreenSaver.ad
xscreensaver.mode: random
xscreensaver.timeout: 0:10:00
xscreensaver.cycle: 0:10:00
xscreensaver.lockTimeout: 0:00:00
xscreensaver.passwdTimeout: 0:00:30
xscreensaver.dpmsEnabled: False
xscreensaver.dpmsQuickoffEnabled: False
xscreensaver.dpmsStandby: 2:00:00
xscreensaver.dpmsSuspend: 2:00:00
xscreensaver.dpmsOff: 4:00:00
xscreensaver.grabDesktopImages: True
xscreensaver.grabVideoFrames: False
xscreensaver.chooseRandomImages: True

! This can be a local directory name, or the URL of an RSS or Atom feed.
xscreensaver.imageDirectory: /usr/share/wallpapers/
xscreensaver.nice: 10
xscreensaver.memoryLimit: 0
xscreensaver.lock: False
xscreensaver.verbose: False
xscreensaver.timestamp: True
xscreensaver.fade: True
xscreensaver.unfade: False
xscreensaver.fadeSeconds: 0:00:03
xscreensaver.fadeTicks: 20
xscreensaver.splash: True
xscreensaver.splashDuration: 0:00:05
xscreensaver.visualID: default
xscreensaver.captureStderr: True
xscreensaver.ignoreUninstalledPrograms: False

xscreensaver.textMode: file
xscreensaver.textLiteral: XScreenSaver
xscreensaver.textFile:
xscreensaver.textProgram: fortune
xscreensaver.textURL: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:NewPages&feed=rss

xscreensaver.overlayTextForeground: #FFFF00
xscreensaver.overlayTextBackground: #000000
xscreensaver.overlayStderr: True
xscreensaver.font: *-medium-r-*-140-*-m-*

! The default is to use these extensions if available (as noted.)
xscreensaver.sgiSaverExtension: True
xscreensaver.xidleExtension: True
xscreensaver.procInterrupts: True

! Turning this on makes pointerHysteresis not work.
xscreensaver.xinputExtensionDev: False

! Set this to True if you are experiencing longstanding XFree86 bug #421
! (xscreensaver not covering the whole screen)
xscreensaver.GetViewPortIsFullOfLies: False

! This is what the "Demo" button on the splash screen runs (/bin/sh syntax.)
xscreensaver.demoCommand: xscreensaver-demo

! This is what the "Prefs" button on the splash screen runs (/bin/sh syntax.)
xscreensaver.prefsCommand: xscreensaver-demo -prefs

! This is the URL loaded by the "Help" button on the splash screen,
! and by the "Documentation" menu item in xscreensaver-demo.
xscreensaver.helpURL: http://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/man.html

! loadURL       -- how the "Help" buttons load the helpURL (/bin/sh syntax.)
xscreensaver.loadURL: firefox '%s' || mozilla '%s' || netscape '%s'

! manualCommand -- how the "Documentation" buttons display man pages.
xscreensaver.manualCommand: xterm -sb -fg black -bg gray75 -T '%s manual' -e /bin/sh -c 'man "%s" ; read foo'

! The format used for printing the date and time in the password dialog box
! To show the time only:  %I:%M %p
! For 24 hour time: %H:%M
xscreensaver.dateFormat: %d-%b-%y (%a); %I:%M %p

! This command is executed by the "New Login" button on the lock dialog.
! (That button does not appear on the dialog if this program does not exist.)
! For Gnome: probably "gdmflexiserver -ls".  KDE, probably "kdmctl reserve".
! Or maybe yet another wheel-reinvention, "lxdm -c USER_SWITCH".
xscreensaver.newLoginCommand: kdmctl reserve
xscreensaver.installColormap: True
xscreensaver.pointerPollTime: 0:00:05
xscreensaver.pointerHysteresis: 10
xscreensaver.initialDelay: 0:00:00
xscreensaver.windowCreationTimeout: 0:00:30
xscreensaver.bourneShell: /bin/sh

! Resources for the password and splash-screen dialog boxes of
! the "xscreensaver" daemon.
xscreensaver.Dialog.headingFont: *-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-*-180-*-*-*-iso8859-1
xscreensaver.Dialog.bodyFont: *-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-*-140-*-*-*-iso8859-1
xscreensaver.Dialog.labelFont: *-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-*-140-*-*-*-iso8859-1
xscreensaver.Dialog.unameFont: *-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-*-120-*-*-*-iso8859-1
xscreensaver.Dialog.buttonFont: *-helvetica-bold-r-*-*-*-140-*-*-*-iso8859-1
xscreensaver.Dialog.dateFont: *-helvetica-medium-r-*-*-*-80-*-*-*-iso8859-1

! Helvetica asterisks look terrible.
xscreensaver.passwd.passwdFont: *-courier-medium-r-*-*-*-140-*-*-*-iso8859-1


xscreensaver.Dialog.foreground: #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.background: #E6E6E6
xscreensaver.Dialog.Button.foreground: #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.Button.background: #F5F5F5

!*Dialog.Button.pointBackground: #EAEAEA
!*Dialog.Button.clickBackground: #C3C3C3
xscreensaver.Dialog.text.foreground: #000000
xscreensaver.Dialog.text.background: #FFFFFF
xscreensaver.passwd.thermometer.foreground: #4464AC
xscreensaver.passwd.thermometer.background: #FFFFFF
xscreensaver.Dialog.topShadowColor: #FFFFFF
xscreensaver.Dialog.bottomShadowColor: #CECECE
xscreensaver.Dialog.logo.width: 210
xscreensaver.Dialog.logo.height: 210
xscreensaver.Dialog.internalBorderWidth: 24
xscreensaver.Dialog.borderWidth: 1
xscreensaver.Dialog.shadowThickness: 2

xscreensaver.passwd.heading.label: XScreenSaver %s
xscreensaver.passwd.body.label: This screen is locked.
xscreensaver.passwd.unlock.label: OK
xscreensaver.passwd.login.label: New Login
xscreensaver.passwd.user.label: Username:
xscreensaver.passwd.thermometer.width: 8
xscreensaver.passwd.asterisks: True
xscreensaver.passwd.uname: True

xscreensaver.splash.heading.label: XScreenSaver %s
xscreensaver.splash.body.label: Copyright © 1991-2013 by
xscreensaver.splash.body2.label: Jamie Zawinski <jwz@jwz.org>
xscreensaver.splash.demo.label: Settings
xscreensaver.splash.help.label: Help

Starting XScreenSaver

Single-User Systems

Simply installing the xscreensaver package is not enough to have it run automatically. The xscreensaver program has to be started, which is commonly done by the desktop environment via a line in ~/.xinitrc as follows:

/usr/bin/xscreensaver -no-splash &

or

( ( sleep 10 && /usr/bin/xscreensaver -no-splash -display :0.0 ) & )

The ampersand & argument makes the xscreensaver program run in the background and is required.

XScreenSaver is automatically started by Xfce in /etc/xdg/xfce4/xinitrc, to ensure it gets executed use startxfce4 and not xfce4-session.

exec startxfce4

Multi-User Systems

If operating with multiple users with a display manager (e.g. SLiM, GDM, KDM) it is best to start XScreenSaver via the desktop manager's native screensaver interface. This allows full management of user switching. For example, if using GNOME, install gnome-screensaver and xscreensaver but only have gnome-screensaver active. This allows for all the screensavers to be selected, and keep the ability for user switching in the event that one user has the screen locked, and another user wants to "switch users" to he/she can access to the box.

Note: Some XScreenSaver native functionality will be lost such as the ability to capture a screen, use photos in a pre-defined path, and/or display custom texts when running the DM's native screensaver with a subset of XScreenSaver's offerings (for example, Flipscreen3D, photopile, etc.)

Another option to retain multi-user support, without having to install a second screensaver, is to modify either ~/.xscreensaver for per-user settings, or /usr/share/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver for global settings, and add the following line.

newLoginCommand: /usr/bin/gdmflexiserver
Note: The command given is for GDM; if you are using a different login manager, you will need to replace it with your preferred login manager's command.

Lock Screen

You may immediately trigger xscreensaver, if it is running, and lock the screen with the following command:

$ xscreensaver-command --lock

Automatically lock when suspending/sleeping/hibernating

Install xuserrun-gitAUR from AUR, and create the following file:

/etc/systemd/system/xscreensaver.service
[Unit]
Description=Lock X session using xscreensaver
Before=sleep.target

[Service]
Type=oneshot
ExecStart=/usr/bin/xuserrun /usr/bin/xscreensaver-command -lock

[Install]
WantedBy=sleep.target

and enable it with

# systemctl enable xscreensaver

You may want to set XScreenSaver's fade out time to 0.

Other service configuration without xuserrun and for one user from this thread, replace the previous [Service] section by this one :

/etc/systemd/system/xscreensaver.service
[Service]
User=yourusername
Type=oneshot
Environment=DISPLAY=:0
ExecStart=/usr/bin/screensaver-command -lock

Another option, is to install xss-lockAUR from AUR, and run this command at your system startup:

$ xss-lock -- xscreensaver-command -lock &

You can also add it to your autostart script.

Disabling XScreenSaver for Media Applications

MPlayer

Add the following to ~/.mplayer/config

heartbeat-cmd="xscreensaver-command -deactivate >&- 2>&- &"

XBMC

There is no native support within XBMC to disable XScreenSaver (although XBMC does come with its own screensaver). The AUR contains a tiny app called xbmc-prevent-xscreensaverAUR does just this.

Adobe Flash/MPlayer/VLC

There is no native way to disable XScreenSaver for flash, but there is script named lightsOn that works great and has support for Firefox's Flash plugin, Chromium's Flash plugin, MPlayer, and VLC.

Using XScreenSaver as animated wallpaper

You can run xscreensaver in the background, just like a wallpaper. First, kill any process that is controlling the background (the root window). Locate the desired XScreenSaver executable (they are usually on /usr/lib/xscreensaver/) and run it with the -root flag, like this

$ /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root &

XScreenSaver as wallpaper under xcompmgr

xcompmgr may cause problems, so you need to use xwinwrap to run it in order to use it as wallpaper. You can find it as shantz-xwinwrap-bzrAUR in the AUR.

Run it with the following command:

$ xwinwrap -b -fs -sp -fs -nf -ov  -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root -window-id WID &

Theming

XScreenSaver's unlock screen can be themed with X resources (see: XScreenSaver resources).

User switching from the lock screen

By default, xscreensaver's "New Login" button in the lock screen will call /usr/bin/gdmflexiserver to allow for user switching. This is fine if using gdm or kdm. Other display managers such as lightdm and lxdm support this functionality as well.

Note: Modifications manually made to ~/.xscreensaver are discarded by xscreensaver-demo, therefore you should probably use instead ~/.Xresources. For example, for LXDM, add in ~/.Xresources:
xscreensaver.newLoginCommand: lxdm -c USER_SWITCH

LXDM

Simply paste the following into ~/.xscreensaver to use LXDM's switching mode:

newLoginCommand: lxdm -c USER_SWITCH

Lightdm

Simply paste the following into ~/.xscreensaver to use lightdm's switching mode:

newLoginCommand: dm-tool switch-to-greeter

KDM

Simply paste the following into ~/.xscreensaver / /usr/share/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver to use kdm's switching mode:

newLoginCommand: kdmctl reserve

SLIM

?

Debugging

You can configure xscreensaver to write to a log file by creating the logfile # touch /var/log/xscreensaver.log and then specifying its X resource logFile.

~/.Xresources
xscreensaver.logFile:/var/log/xscreensaver.log

To log verbose debugging information to the logFile as well start xscreensaver with the -verbose command line option, or add this to your ~/.Xresources

~/.Xresources
xscreensaver.logFile:/var/log/xscreensaver.log
xscreensaver.verbose:true


See Also