inside the mind of a linux admin

Gnome3: replace gnome-screensaver with xscreensaver

GNOME 3’s “screensaver” leaves much to be desired, and if you’re an old school X user like myself, you probably just want the good ole’ screensaver back. Here’s how to install it using the following commands (this will also remove gnome-screensaver):

sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver
sudo apt-get install xscreensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra xscreensaver-data-extra

Then search for “Screensaver” in the menu and tweak its settings to your needs.

To add Xscreensaver to startup, open Startup Applications and add “xscreensaver -nosplash”.

Let’s also make the lock screen work (CTRL + ALT + L):

sudo ln -s /usr/bin/xscreensaver-command /usr/bin/gnome-screensaver-command

However, that still leaves the menu. Since that is looking for a dbus entry, we will have to create our own…(That part i kinda had to figure out on my own)

Create a script called with the following code in it


import dbus
import dbus.service
import dbus.glib
import gobject
import os

class ScreenDbusObj(dbus.service.Object):
def __init__(self):
session_bus = dbus.SessionBus()
dbus.service.Object.__init__(self,bus_name, '/org/gnome/ScreenSaver')

def Lock(self):
os.system( "xscreensaver-command -lock" )

if __name__ == '__main__':

You can place the file anywhere, but for the sake of direction, here’s a good spot:

Create the directory:
mkdir -p ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/customExtensions/

Then open the new file in your favorite editor, eg:
vim ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/customExtensions/

Set the permissions to executable:
chmod +x ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/customExtensions/


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  • John on Thursday, March 14, 2013

    When I try to run this I get the following

    session_bus = dbus.SessionBus()
    IndentationError: expected an indented block

    Any ideas what may be the issue?

  • kire on Friday, March 15, 2013

    Looks like the formatting of the code wasn’t copied over. You should be able to resolve by indenting the lines referenced in the error.

  • John on Friday, March 15, 2013

    Thanks I will give that a try.

  • Giuseppe on Saturday, July 12, 2014

    You forgot this command in order to prevent any gnome-screensaver install from overwriting your script:

    # dpkg-divert –divert /usr/bin/gnome-screensaver-command.gnome –rename /usr/bin/gnome-screensaver-command

  • Larry on Tuesday, May 12, 2015

    Thanks Giuseppe! That was EXACTLY the command I was looking for to keep this workaround from breaking every few months.

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