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9Aug/100

Notes on Preventing Screen Blanking

Here are a few notes I've made on keeping the the screen from blanking in linux. I generally am using Ratpoison (and sometimes just the console), so these are notes on how to disable screen blanking in X and console situations, not the higher-level GNOME or KDE screensaver. I've come up with a configuration that works to keep my screen from ever turning off, but I don't have an in-depth understanding of exactly what's being done. Some of this may be redundant.

Turn off the screensaver in X

You can turn off X's screensaver by adding the following code to your .xinitrc:

xset s off

And you can verify that it worked by noting that the timeout is zero with "xset q":

james@tv:~$ xset q
...
Screen Saver:
  prefer blanking:  yes    allow exposures:  yes
  timeout:  0    cycle:  600
...

Turn off DPMS in X

DPMS (VESA Display Power Management Signaling) is what turns off an idle monitor to save energy. To disable it, add the following to .xinitrc:

xset -dpms

and verify that it worked:

james@tv:~$ xset q
...
DPMS (Energy Star):
  Standby: 1200    Suspend: 1800    Off: 2400
  DPMS is Disabled
...

Screen blanking terminal attributes

This command is almost certainly important, although honestly I don't know the details of it very well. The commands themselves seem pretty obvious, but I've done no research as to whether they are redundant. I've add this to my .xinitrc as well:

setterm -blank 0 -powersave off -powerdown 0

Additional note

While I was trying to figure this stuff out, I came across this command as well, and wanted to at least make note of it:

xset s blank

As far as I can tell, this doesn't control whether the screen will blank, but how it will blank. From the xset man page:

...The blank flag sets the preference to blank the video (if the hardware can do so) rather than display a background pattern, while noblank sets the preference to display a pattern rather than blank the video....

I'm pretty sure that using the "noblank" parameter will cause X's default grey crisscross pattern to display when the screensaver is activated, instead of just blanking the screen.

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