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XSecreenSaver on Ubuntu 20.04 Screenshot
XSecreenSaver on Ubuntu 20.04 Screenshot

Don't like the blank screen? XScreenSaver is for you!

Since forever, Ubuntu has had a blank screen screensaver. I know not why. But I dont like it. I like to know my system is there, especially if it is remote. I have always used XScreenSaver. It is cross platform and runs on all the platforms I use. macOS has an OS provided screen saver and lock screen although the selection of savers is moribund. What can be done?

XScreenSaver has been the defacto standard screen saver for Linux and Unix systems for decades. It came to macOS in 2006, to iOS in 2012, and to Android in 2014. It pleases me greatly, probably far too greatly, to have the same screen saver on all my systems. You can find downloads at XScreenSaver, in the App Store and on Google Play and of course it is included in many distributions of Linux.

  • Ubuntu 20.04— Install from the repository via your package manager
  • Android— Install from Google Play
  • macOS— Install from the developers website via a DMG
  • iOS— Install from the App Store

Lets install them all, via the simplest methods. You can of course compile from source, and make some deeper customisations on Linux and Unix should you need to!

Ubuntu 20.04 — Xscreensaver installation through the Ubuntu repositories

Compiling the open source is a distraction for most people. Binaries are vailable for macOS. iOS is in the App Store and Android is in Google Play as well as available for direct download.

For Ubuntu Linux, you can install using your package manager, or build from source. It is easier to use your package manager, but you rely on the maintainers to keep up to date.

So lets do that, and see if it is enough, before contemplating building from source.

Installing this way is easy. Although the version of XScreenSaver is 5.42 from December 2018

$ sudo apt-get install xscreensaver xscreensaver-data-extra xscreensaver-gl-extra
  • Click 'Show Applications'on your application dock
  • Type'Startup Applications Preferences'and click to run this application
  • Click Add and type XScreenSaver in the 'Name' field and xscreensaver -nosplashin the content field
  • Click Add to confirm the new Startup Application
XScreenSaver startup preferences
Startup Applications Preferences for Ubuntu 20.04
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"
Ubuntu 20.04 "Startup Applications Preferences app"

I am always torn between "Sonar" and "UnknownPleasures" as my screensaver. Sonar can be configured to let you see response times on your subnet, or known hosts or a pre-determined list of hosts. Unknown Pleasures is a beautiful saver based on 'that' iconic Pulsar illustration on one of my favourite albums. There are so many more beautifully crafted 'hacks' or savers and Im sure you'll find one you love.

XScreenSaver settings
Type xscreensaver-demo to load the settings for XScreenSaver
XScreenSaver settings - screenshot
XScreenSaver settings

XScreensaver for Android

Screenshots of XScreenSaver for Android
Android in 5.45 with UnknownPleasures and a covid19 hack
XScreenSaver n Google Play - screenshot
XScreenSaver Google Play Store Listing - Screenshot
XScreenSaver for Android - screenshot
XScreenSaver for Android
XScreenSaver UnknownPleasures hack - android screenshot
"UnknownPleasures" hack on XScreenSaver for Android
XScreenSaver COVID19 hack - android screenshot
"COVID19" hack on XScreenSaver for Android

Not all hacks work on all Android devices, but many work beautifully. You can find XScreenSaver for Android on Google Play at XScreenSaver - org.jwz.android.xscreensaver

XScreensaver for iOS

Screenshots of XScreenSaver for iOS
iOS in 5.45 with UnknownPleasures and a covid19 hack
XScreenSaver App Store Listing - screenshot
XScreenSaver App Store Listing
XScreenSaver 5.45 for iOS - screenshot
XScreenSaver on iOS
XScreenSaver UnknownPleasures hack for iOS - screenshot
XScreenSaver "UnknownPleasures" hack for iOS
XScreenSaver Sonar hack for iOS - screenshot
XScreenSaver "Sonar" hack for iOS

Not all hacks work on iOS, but many work beautifully. You can find XScreenSaver for iOS on the App Store at XScreenSaver

XScreensaver for macOS

Screenshots of XScreenSaver for macOS
XScreenSaver macOS 5.45 with UnknownPleasures hack
XScreenSaver download page - screenshot
XScreenSaver download page
macOS browser download dialog box
macOS browser download dialog box
XScreenSaver DMG opened on macOS - screenshot
XScreenSaver DMG opened on macOS
XScreenSaver UnknownPleasutes hack for macOS - screenshot
XScreenSaver "UnknownPleasures" hack for macOS

Not all hacks work on macOS, but many work beautifully. The hacks are integrated into the macOS Secreen Saver in System Preferences. You can find XScreenSaver for macOS on the authors website at XScreenSaver download page


See also:

XScreenSaver — a collection of free screen savers for X11, macOS, iOS and Android, by Jamie Zawinski and many others.