Linux Candy

Linux Candy: XScreenSaver – Framework and collection of screensavers

Last Updated on May 25, 2022

Linux Candy is a series of articles covering interesting eye candy software. We only feature open source software in this series.

Some of the programs in this series are purely cosmetic, frivolous pieces of fun. Candy at their finest. But we also include some programs that aren’t purely decorative.

There’s a diverse range of programs included in this series. Programs such as eDEX-UI and Variety are actually highly practical programs. ASCIIQuarium has soothing and relaxing qualities for your desktop. Other programs included in this series (such as lolcat, cacafire) are included purely for their decorative qualities. And then there’s some really fun software that just raises a smile or two.

Screen savers display an animation that consistently changes so that a static image isn’t left on the screen for any length of time.

Screen savers are a legacy from an earlier technology. They are certainly misnamed in today’s scene. They don’t “save” your monitor unless you’ve managed to connect your PC to an ancient CRT monitor. But they can still bring enjoyment.

XScreenSaver offers a couple of hundred different screen savers together with a framework for blanking and locking the screen. The screen savers are known in the software’s development as ‘hacks’ and range from simple 2D effects to 3D demonstrations of complex mathematical principles, to simulations of other computer systems, space phenomena, to re-creations of artefacts and effects from movies such as Tron, Star Wars and The Matrix.


XScreenSaver is included with almost all Unix systems running the X11 Window System. You’ll find a convenient package available in many Linux distributions which makes installation trivial. For example in Ubuntu, XScreenSaver can be installed with the command:

$ sudo apt install xscreensaver

This installs version 5.42 which isn’t actually the latest version.

It’s worth checking if your distro provides the latest version. If the latest version isn’t available as a package, there’s the full source code available.

Next page: Page 2 – In Operation

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Introduction / Installation
Page 2 – In Operation
Page 3 – Summary

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