How to replace gnome-screensaver with xscreensaver in ubuntu

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XScreenSaver is the standard screen saver collection shipped on most Linux and Unix systems running the X11 Window System.

On X11 systems, XScreenSaver is two things: it is both a large collection of screen savers; and it is also the framework for blanking and locking the screen.

Remove gnome-screensaver

You can remove gnome-screensaver using the following command from your terminal

sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver

Install xscreensaver

You can install xscreensaver using the following command from your terminal

sudo apt-get install xscreensaver

You can start the xscreensaver executable to start the xscreensaver daemon.

xscreensaver -nosplash

xscreensaver-demo will show the xscreensaver's configuration dialog, the thing that you see in system>preferences.

Now that standby/suspend/screen off is controlled by gnome-screensaver and configured through the power manager(system>preferences), since it's disabled now, it won't work anymore, but other configuration (power button action etc...) will still work.

Configure your standby/suspend/screen off configuration form xscreensaver.

Next, you have to add the xscreensaver -nosplash at startup; to do so, goto system>prefferences>startup applications; there click add and after putting a name, add "xscreensaver -nosplash" in the command section.

To have all screensavers enabled run the following command from your terminal

sudo apt-get install unicode-screensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra rss-glx xscreensaver-data-extra

Via Ubuntu Forum

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12 thoughts on “How to replace gnome-screensaver with xscreensaver in ubuntu

  1. Yep, gnome screensaver makes screensaving very difficult!

    e.g. if you want to configure glslideshow (which can be a nice always-moving-and-zooming-and-fading slideshow) it’s easy in xscreensaver but impossible in gnome. You have to do all manor of hacks, it’s really quite resilient to letting you use the software the way you want.

    Good post.

    [Reply]

  2. Ok I want to try this however when I tried the command sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver. I am told that I will be removing all of gnome. With that being the only desktop I knew better than to do that. How do I break gnome apart so I can change the parts I don’t want?

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  3. @lonnie
    Check your command to see if you left a space after ‘gnome’. The command, as you typed above, will only remove the gnome screensaver.

    [Reply]

    Lindsay Haisley Reply:

    DemocritusJr, the gnome-core metapackage depends on gnome-screensaver, and the gnome metapackage depends on gnome-core. Removing gnome-screensaver forces the removal of these two metapackages. This isn’t the same as removing the entire gnome desktop, but thereafter most gnome components will be listed as “no longer needed” and the dependency situation becomes very messy. If you ever do an autoclean using any deb package management utility, your entire gnome desktop _will_ be removed at that point :(

    [Reply]

    DemocritusJr Reply:

    @ Lindsay Haisley

    I didn’t get the error message @lonnie received. That is why I assumed a typo. I am running Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity. I have had no dependency issues with gnome and have run apt-get autoclean without incident. Perhaps, @lonnie is running a different os or desktop environment. Cheers!

    [Reply]

  4. Hi,

    I managed to get xscreensaver to startup instead of gnome-screensaver on GNOME3 with openSuse 11.4.

    All you have to do is edit /etc/xdg/autostart/gnome-screensaver.desktop
    file. And just change:
    Exec=xscreensaver instead of Exec=gnome-screensaver

    Works perfectly.
    Regards
    Aubrey.

    [Reply]

  5. Just today the auto updates announce it was removing xscreensaver, and when I reinstalled it after, I no longer find any screen saver options in the System menu, and it won’t activate — it is running but my screen now blanks after a few minutes, even though the power management is disabled and the normal screen saver dialog is set to never intervene! What went wrong?

    [Reply]

    DemocritusJr Reply:

    I can’t tell from the information you gave. Are you using Ubuntu? What is your desktop environment? Were you upgrading or updating?

    [Reply]

  6. Sorry, yes, I thought it was in context ;) The machine is Ubuntu 11.10, and it had been happily running xscreensaver since the 11.10 release, but the update-manager is set to update but not install; I logged in, saw there were upgrades pending, and without really examining the list, I said Y to upgrading packages, and somewhere in that list it announced that it was removing xscreensaver — this was a working machine, already running 11.10 modified to run xscreensaver, but an update forced xscreensaver out — after the safe-upgrade [sic] I then did a re-install of xscreensaver, but when I went to modify the system settings through the menu, there was no options for any screensaver, only the power-control, just as if there was no screensaver at all. I set power control off and yet the machine still will turn the screen off after an hour. xscreensaver will only run if I manually run xscreensaver-demo after login and start the daemon, and then it only runs until the screen blanking takes over.

    [Reply]

  7. Hi,

    Have you tried adding xscreensaver as a startup application? As far as I know I think Ubuntu has startup-apps program.

    Or just make a script to run it and place it in the GNOME startup folder. But you would probably have to remove gnome-screensaver first.

    If that doesnt work you could try modifying the gnome-screensaver .desktop file which normally loads on startup. You just search for gnome-screensaver. You can type (find /* -name “gnome-screensaver” -print) or type (which gnome-screensaver) to get the path. Then just modify that file with a text editor, replacing “gnome-screensaver” with “xscreensaver”.

    Regards
    Aubrey.

    [Reply]

  8. Hi, what is the purpose of adding the command “sudo apt-get install unicode-screensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra rss-glx xscreensaver-data-extra”? I just want only the xscreensaver, thanks.

    [Reply]

  9. I recommend xlock + xautolock instead of xscreensaver, because xscreensaver is very buggy when you are playing games.

    [Reply]

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