Friday, 21 May 2010

Further Adventures in the land of Leave My Fucking Screen Alone

Right. Apparently, the problem is that all the lovely gui interfaces that come with ubuntu do not know how to talk to the xserver properly when it comes to things like bloody screen savers.

This means command line people.

If you type in:
xset q

the system should show you some settings relating to the xserver. These are the settings that should be, but actually are not, changed in the Screensaver and Power Management programs that you launch from System -> Preferences.

What you are looking for is the section:
Screen Saver:
prefer blanking: yes allow exposures: yes
timeout: 0 cycle: 0

If you do not want a blanking screen they should look like the above. If they actually show "timeout: [some number of seconds probably 600]" then you will be enjoying screen blanking hell.

So, you type in:
xset s 0

to disable the screensaver timeout.

Now, you should be able to leave the machine for more than 10 minutes without frantically wiggling the mouse or hitting random keys to keep it alive. Why in the name of sanity the Preferences settings DO NOT ACTUALLY CHANGE this setting is a complete fucking mystery to me. I mean really, what is the fucking point of having a Preferences dialogue for this setting anyway? It doesn't actually change anything, other than my blood pressure. Here is a bug report on what appears to be this issue going back to 2006.

Apparently, if you want this change to be permanent you need to stick the following lines into your /etc/X11/xorg.conf file. Oh yes, that should be fun. Editing xorg.conf is a shortcut to corrupting your display and having to sacrifice your first born to get a graphical user interface back. Use at your discretion, and for fuck's sake keep a backup and have a LiveCD on standby.
Section “ServerFlags”
Option "BlankTime" "0"
Option "StandbyTime" "0"
Option "SuspendTime" "0"
Option "OffTime" "0"

Now, back to using F1 Live Timing without the screen going dark in the dying moments of Q3 a-fucking-gain.


  1. Thanks for sharing this one, it was driving me nuts.

    I really like your writing style, just reading it calms my frustration, I can't imagine what writing it must do for you.

  2. Hey Smoo, I think the issue is that xorg.conf isn't supposed to be used anymore. I'm running 12.04 and the file doesn't even exist in /etc/X11 where it used to be. They've split it up into several .conf files that should be located in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d so I would see if that folder exists already, and if it does then you can paste this into a new file such as /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-server-layout.conf :

    Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier "ServerLayout0"
    Option "BlankTime" "0"
    Option "StandbyTime" "0"
    Option "SuspendTime" "0"
    Option "OffTime" "0"

    (This is similar to your block above but includes the identifier, which I think is necessary.)

    I've messed around with xorg.conf too and got myself a nice permanent blank screen. Good fucking times :) The problem is that when xorg.conf is present it overrides all other Xorg configuration, so it better include everything Xorg needs in one file or something will break. Creating a server layout the way I explained above won't break anything because Xorg is using a different file elsewhere to configure the video card and monitor.

    Hope this helps.