HPR: Shot of hack:BSOD on Kubuntu

HPR LogoSome of the guys complained that my 22″ analogue clock screen-saver was a bit boring. So I thought that I would pull the fake blue screen of death screen-saver one on them.

The screen saver …

BSOD – shows fake fatal “screens of death” from a variety of computer systems, including Microsoft Windows Blue Screen of Death, a Linux kernel panic, a Darwin crash, an Amiga “Guru Meditation” error, a sad Mac and many others.

I googled and found that it was in the xscreensaver-data-extra package which I had installed and I even had a configuration file under /usr/share/xscreensaver/config/bsod.xml. However I could not find the BSOD screen-saver listed on my KDE4 system settings screen saver panel.

So why isn’t xscreensaver working ? Well it turns out

… you’re not running xscreensaver at all, you’re running “kscreensaver”. You should stop.

Instead of using the usual xscreensaver mechanisms, the KDE folks have chosen to roll their own screen saver wrapper that is inferior to the xscreensaver-demo way of doing things in any number of ways.

So if you need a xscreensaver, then you need to install xscreensaver. Which means that you need to disable KDE screensaver and replace the existing “lock keyboard” application. They have a faq on how to do this.

The first step is to install xscreensaver and recommended applications.

sudo apt-get install xscreensaver xli xloadimage xfishtank qcam 

Next you need to edit .kde/Autostart/xscreensaver.desktop and add the following lines:

[Desktop Entry]
Exec=xscreensaver
Name=XScreenSaver
Type=Application
X-KDE-StartupNotify=false

This will be sufficient to start the the screen saver but you also need to disable kscreensaver by un-checking “Start Automatically” in system settings.

If you like the idea of locking the screen with the padlock icon or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+L, then you also need to change the screen locker program. I found it at /usr/lib/kde4/libexec/kscreenlocker and replaced it with a script that contained the following:

#!/bin/sh
xscreensaver-command -lock

I then made it executable using the command:

chmod +x /usr/lib/kde4/libexec/kscreenlocker

Once I had that done I recorded a short Hacker Public Radio episode.

And you should too.

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