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Add 200 amazing screensavers

In the days of CRT monitors screensavers had to be used to prevent screen burn-in when static images were displayed on the screen for long periods of time, such as lunchtime or overnight. Monitors became more resistant to burn-in over time though and now that we have LCD monitors, this function isn't as important as it was. Now screensavers are really just fun programs that pop-up and display entertaining or interesting animated images and slide shows when the computer is idle. A screensaver is included with many, perhaps all, Linux distros and they offer a small selection of animated displays or even simply a blank screen. In Ubuntu you get 15. How would you like 200! They are free and fairly easy to install.

XScreenSaver is a collection of around 200 free screensavers for Linux (they work on Apple Macs too) and they are really good. There are some amazing animations with 2-D and 3-D displays and it's well worth installing and exploring the collection. Not only are there many more exciting screensavers to choose from, you also get a much better Screensaver Preferences dialog that has more settings and customisation options. You can easily set XScreenSaver to be the default instead of the standard system screensaver.


The first thing you must do is to disable the current screensaver - the Gnome screensaver that's bundled with Ubuntu and other Gnome distros. Start the screensaver setup utility - in Ubuntu you go to System, Preferences, Screensaver. Clear the tickboxes labelled Activate screensaver when computer is idle, and Lock screen when screensaver is active.

Open a Terminal window and at the command prompt enter: sudo gconftool-2 --type boolean -s /apps/gnome_settings_daemon/screensaver/start_screensaver false

Go to the package manager (System, Administration, Synaptic Package Manager in Ubuntu) and search for xscreensaver. Select all the xscreensaver packages - there are about five of them.

Go back to the command prompt in the Terminal window and type: sudo gedit /usr/share/applications/gnome-screensaver-preferences.desktop

Change the line that says Exec=gnome-screensaver-preferences to Exec=xscreensaver-demo

Comment out the last four lines by putting # symbols at the start like this:

Go to System, Preferences, Startup Applications and click the Add button. Enter XScreenSaver for the name and xscreensaver -nosplash in the command box.


That's it, the new XScreenSaver should be working. It's worth rebooting just to make sure everything is OK though. You'll find that there are now two Screensavers on the System, Preferences menu - one for the old screensaver and one for the new one. Let the mouse hover over each of them and the old one says Set your screensaver preferences and the new one says Change screensaver properties.. Go to System, Preferences, Main Menu. Find the menu item for the old screensaver and clear the tickbox so it doesn't appear on the menu.

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