Feb 162011

escherTired of the “usual” screensaver present on the major Windows Manager?

Today we will see some alternative programs that can be used on our linux to have new and original effects.


Matrixgl is a free, open source 3D screensaver based on The Matrix Reloaded. It supports widescreen setups, and can be run on Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, BSD, and many other Unix based operating systems.


Download the latest tar ball from the download page and after that from a terminal compile and install it:

$tar xzf matrixgl-2.3.tar.gz
  $cd matrixgl-2.3
  View the files README and INSTALL for more detailed information
  Then, as root
  #make install

Electric Sheep

Electric Sheep is a collaborative abstract artwork founded by Scott Draves. It’s run by thousands of people all over the world, and can be installed on any ordinary PC or Mac. When these computers “sleep”, the Electric Sheep comes on and the computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the work of creating morphing abstract animations known as “sheep”. The result is a collective “android dream”, an homage to Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.

Anyone watching one of these computers may vote for their favorite animations using the keyboard. The more popular sheep live longer and reproduce according to a genetic algorithm with mutation and cross-over. Hence the flock evolves to please its global audience. You can also design your own sheep and submit them to the gene pool.


If you have Ubuntu 10.04 (or later) or Debian Sid (or later), then just use the package manager or type “sudo apt-get install electricsheep”.

Otherwise, the preferred way to install it is from source.  If you have Ubuntu or Debian, just right click on the link to the script, and save it in your home directory.  Fedora users see here.  Then open up a terminal (under Applications/Accessories) and type the command “. makesheep.sh” and press return, then type your root password.  The rest should be automatic.

It should configure itself to be your screensaver, but you can also run it from the command line just by typing “electricsheep”. You can also use “electricsheep-preferences” to configure it, including setting your nickname for credit on the server, and the video driver. If mplayer and your X server are properly configured then the default (blank) should work, but if not, anything you pass to “mplayer -vo” can be put here. Common values are “x11″, “gl”, and “xv”.


or Really Slick Screensavers Port to GLX are the open source port of the original project Really Slick Screensavers.

From the homepage of the project

“6/25/02 was a momentous day in Unix screensaver history. At least I think so. The Really Slick Screensavers were open sourced under GPL. I didn’t notice this until 07/28, but once I did, I started porting.

>>> insert long delay <<<

After some licensing problems preventing inclusion in XScreenSaver (which is BSD/X licensed), my original intent, I’ve been asked to release my work in a standalone package. The package here currently contains all of the screensavers from the original collection, plus a few others I’ve managed to find the source for online.”

Tugrul Galatali


rss-glx package it’s available in the repository of Ubuntu and Debian, so you can install it with the standard package manager.

Linux kernel

Finally as a last option, if you prefer something more challenging and textual I recommend this guide , that show how to see the lines of Linux Kernel source code as a screensaver … there’s something better?

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