At long last, a console screensaver

Finally, about two years after originally hunting for a way to run a screensaver at the console, I have an answer.

And the answer is screen. I’ll apologize beforehand if somebody happened to mention this and I somehow overlooked it, but I was cruising through the man page for screen today. I found two settings which combine to trigger a kind of screensaver effect.

The first is blankerprg, which sets the command for the screensaver “application,” and idle, which sets the timeout and triggers the blankerprg.

Assuming you have cmatrix installed, add these two lines to your .screenrc (or enter them directly into screen while it’s running, with the CTRL+A ‘:’ sequence):

blankerprg cmatrix -ab -u2
idle 60 blanker

(Note the second line doesn’t say blankerprg; blanker is the invocation and blankerprg is the “variable” it starts.)

Now, in 60 seconds, your screen session should switch to the cmatrix program, and continue over the entire terminal area until you press a key. Cool, huh?

While you’re at it, you can substitute anything you like in there for cmatrix. Try tty-clock -r for some fun, or cacafire (assuming you have those installed, of course ;) ). If you can find a console game with an “attract mode,” that might be interesting too.

Wow, it feels good to find an answer to that, even if it did take two years. … :mrgreen:

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14 Responses to “At long last, a console screensaver”


  1. 1 Ali Gunduz 2009/05/05 at 10:34 PM

    I don’t see a machine with a crt monitor on your hardware page. So, is there a practical use for screensaver?

    (Though, I’m all for tinkering for its own sake.)

    • 2 Kavey 2009/05/06 at 4:16 AM

      One practical use would be that remote screen sessions over the internet can be timed out and disconnect by firewalls when idle. This would be a way to prevent it when it becomes idle.

    • 3 K.Mandla 2009/05/07 at 7:13 AM

      Technically no, there’s no need. But it’s pretty cool. (But as I understand it, CRT’s aren’t the only ones susceptible to burn-in.)

  2. 6 anonymous 2009/05/06 at 4:48 AM

    The console window manger VWM has a screen saver as well.

  3. 7 anon 2009/05/06 at 6:03 AM

    FreeBSD has had VGA console screensavers for over a decade. http://www.freebsddiary.org/screensaver.php

  4. 8 alvare 2009/05/06 at 11:40 AM

    l0L this is so cool, thanks

  5. 9 msx 2010/09/20 at 7:36 AM

    @7
    Yeah, but FBSD has been useful for nothing excepts server use for over a decade :D

    Awesome post as usual K. Mandla!!


  1. 1 Howto: Patch and set up screen-vs « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/05/24 at 10:10 PM
  2. 2 On the menu « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/06/07 at 9:55 PM
  3. 3 Random screensavers for the console « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/06/25 at 12:41 PM
  4. 4 An analog clock for the console « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2009/12/26 at 10:33 PM
  5. 5 binclock and a screensaver script « Motho ke motho ka botho Trackback on 2010/06/13 at 8:08 AM

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