xscreensaver-4.01: description + notes

A screen saver and locker for the X Window System.
by Jamie Zawinski

The xscreensaver program waits until the keyboard and mouse have been idle for a period, and then runs a graphics demo chosen at random. It turns off as soon as there is any mouse or keyboard activity. It can also lock the screen (immediately, after a longer idle period, or on demand.) xscreensaver consists of two parts: xscreensaver itself, the (the ``driver'' or ``daemon''), which detects idleness and does locking; and the many graphics demos that are launched by xscreensaver.

Any X program that can draw on the root window can be used with xscreensaver, regardless of how that program is written, or what language it is written in, or what libraries it uses. The xscreensaver daemon takes care of detecting when the user is idle, locking, and checking passwords and all the other book-keeping; all the other programs need to do is draw.

The benefit that xscreensaver has over the combination of the xlock and xautolock programs is the ease with which new graphics hacks can be installed. You don't need to recompile (or even re-run) xscreensaver program to add a new display mode, you just change a config file.

Screen Shots

See some images of the various graphics hacks that are packaged with xscreensaver, and descriptions of each.


There is an extensive manual, including helpful configuration hints for various systems.


Get the latest version here. This page also has links to various other related programs and libraries. (Note: the latest SGI-compiled binaries can be found at the SGI Freeware page.)

What's New

See what has changed since the last release.

Reporting Bugs

If you encounter a bug, I want to know about it! This document explains the kind of information that will be most helpful to me. The more information you give me, the easier it will be for me to fix the bug.

NOTE: This product installs its X application default files in /usr/freeware/lib/X11/app-defaults, which is not in the default X search path. There are several ways to extend your X search path via environment variables, however in my opinion the easiest thing to do is create a symbolic link in /usr/lib/X11/app-defaults:

    ln -s /usr/freeware/lib/X11/app-defaults/XScreenSaver 

Also, if you're using shadow passwords, you'll need to make /usr/freeware/bin/xscreensaver setuid:

    chmod 4755 /usr/freeware/bin/xscreensaver

Vince Levey configured and built this package.

To auto-install this package, go back and click on the respective install icon.