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


Install the xscreensaver package.

For an Arch Linux branded experience, install the xscreensaver-arch-logoAUR package.


Most options are configured on a user-by-user basis by running xscreensaver-settings. xscreensaver-settings writes the chosen configuration to ~/.xscreensaver, discarding any manual modifications to the file. Global options are defined in /usr/share/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver.

Since at least XScreenSaver 5.22, there is another way to edit XScreenSaver's user configuration, using Xresources. This includes theming support. See [1] for the version 5.22 defaults.

DPMS and blanking settings

Tango-edit-clear.pngThis article or section needs language, wiki syntax or style improvements. See Help:Style for reference.Tango-edit-clear.png

Reason: "overrides DPMS" is vague—xscreensaver does the equivalent of xset s 0 0, uses its own timer for the various animations, but sets the DPMS timeout to the values in Display Power Management. (Discuss in Talk:XScreenSaver)

XScreenSaver manages screen blanking and display energy saving (DPMS) independently of X itself and overrides it. To configure the timings for blanking, 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

DPMS and screen blanking can be disabled by starting xscreensaver-demo and, for the Mode setting, choosing Disable Screen Saver.

Note: If Lock Screen After in xscreensaver-demo is ticked and set to 0 minutes, the screen will be locked immediately upon blanking. If Power Manager Enabled is unticked, DPMS is disabled; it does not mean that XScreenSaver will relinquish control of DPMS settings.


Tip: To start XScreenSaver without the splash screen, use the -no-splash switch. See xscreensaver(1) for a full list of options.

In the Xfce, LXDE and LXQt environments, XScreenSaver is autostarted automatically if it is available - no further action is required. For other environments, see Autostarting.

To immediately trigger xscreensaver, if it is running, and lock the screen, execute the following command:

$ xscreensaver-command -lock

Lock on suspend

See Power management#xss-lock. You may want to set XScreenSaver's fade out time to 0.

User switching from the lock screen

Warning: When switching users using a display manager such as GDM or LightDM, XScreenSaver will not lock the original session—it can be accessed without a password simply by switching TTYs to the session in question. If you are using LightDM, as a workaround, install light-locker and run it alongside XScreenSaver. Alternatively, use a different screen locking program altogether—see List of applications/Security#Screen lockers.

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Reason: KDM is not supported by Arch Linux anymore. KDE uses SDDM instead. See also Diff/486338. (Discuss in Talk:XScreenSaver)

By default, XScreenSaver's New Login button in the lock screen will call /usr/bin/gdmflexiserver to switch users. Display managers other than GDM or KDM that support user switching (such as LightDM) require a different command.

Tip: Adding xscreensaver.newLoginCommand: to ~/.Xresources whilst leaving the argument blank will make the New Login button disappear.

As modifications in ~/.xscreensaver are discarded by xscreensaver-demo, ~/.Xresources is used in this section.


To use LXDM's switching mode:

xscreensaver.newLoginCommand: lxdm -c USER_SWITCH


To use LightDM's switching mode:

xscreensaver.newLoginCommand: dm-tool switch-to-greeter
Note: If you use this to switch to an already-logged-in user, you might have to enter the password twice (once for LightDM, and once for the XScreenSaver dialog of the user you logged in to).

Tips and tricks

Disable during media playback


By default mpv turns off the screensaver at startup and turns it on again on exit. The screensaver is always re-enabled when the player is paused. The option can be controlled in mpv's configuration file located in ~/.config/mpv/mpv.conf:

stop-screensaver = "yes"

This is not supported on all video outputs or platforms. If you face some issues you might use a Lua script to manually disable the screensaver. Create a file at ~/.config/mpv/scripts/xscreensaver.lua with the following contents:

local utils = require 'mp.utils'
mp.add_periodic_timer(30, function()
    utils.subprocess({args={"xscreensaver-command", "-deactivate"}})

The above script will call xscreensaver-command -deactivate every 30 seconds. (Formerly you could use the heartbeat-cmd configuration option, but that is no longer present in newer versions of mpv.)


Add the following to ~/.mplayer/config:

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


Kodi has no native support to disable XScreenSaver (it uses its own screensaver). Install the kodi-prevent-xscreensaverAUR package as a workaround or try Kodi extension from https://sourceforge.net/projects/osscreensavermanager/.

Browser HTML5 video/Flash

There is no native way to disable XScreenSaver for Flash or HTML5 fullscreen video, but there is a script named lightsonplus with support for Firefox's Flash plugin, Chromium's Flash plugin, HTML5 fullscreen video in Firefox and Chromium, MPlayer, and VLC.

Another script based solution would be firefox-dpms-gitAUR which makes use of PulseAudio output detection of Firefox and thus also works in windowed mode (but not without audio playback).

Animated wallpaper

One can run xscreensaver in the background, just like a wallpaper. First, kill any process that is controlling the background (the root window).

Then, locate the desired XScreenSaver executable (typically in /usr/lib/xscreensaver/) and run it with the -root flag, for example:

$ /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root &
Note: If xcompmgr causes problems, install the shantz-xwinwrap-bzrAUR package, and run:
$ xwinwrap -b -fs -sp -fs -nf -ov -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glslideshow -root -window-id WID &


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


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


See also