My Favourite Screensaver, SkyRockets, in Ubuntu

This post is more or less just a review of how to install Xscreensaver on your Linux box, Ubuntu 11.04, or older, and then to install one of my favourite screensavers called Skyrockets from Really Slick Screensavers. I put it here so if I have to do a fresh install of Ubuntu, I can quickly change the screensaver to my favourites. The only thing that I cannot get working is the audio that is supposedly available for the screensaver. I have heard the audio work on Window$, so I know it is there, so the OpenAL still must be broken in Ubuntu/Linux.

ADDED: I did get the audio to work. Open your Ubuntu Software Centre window application and search OpenAL. Install the OpenAL-Soft Configuration Utility. This will be found at System –> Preferences –> OpenAL-Soft Configuration Utility. You will have to tweak the settings, but it will work. The sound effects are quite cheesy, but they do work with the screensaver, Skyrockets. Hint: I turned the volume down very low, and that is when I noticed it working.

The procedure is basic, requiring only a few command-lines, and a small hack of the .xscreensaver  file with a text editor. The whole procedure should take about five minutes, depending on your network connection to the repositories.


The fine folks who consolidated the inner working of Ubuntu have repeatedly decided after each incarnation of the OS to stick with the Gnome-Screensaver application which severely limits the user’s use to make tweaks to the screensavers. Perhaps the thinking was that users would be prone to crashing there older model PCs with setting screensavers to high, or something? Either way, the best option to using screensavers on the Ubuntu, Gnome Desktop, is to uninstall the Gnome Screensaver application.


You can Copy and Paste each command-line into your Terminal Window.

  1. Uninstall  the Gnome Screensaver application: sudo apt-get remove gnome-screensaver
  2. Install Xscreensaver: sudo apt-get install xscreensaver
  3. Now to tell Ubuntu to make Xscreensaver run at start-up: xscreensaver -nosplash
  4. Remember that you now have to reset all of your settings for the screensaver control settings for Xscreensaver because Gnome-Screenscaer is gone.
  5. To make all the screensavers enabled type in: sudo apt-get install unicode-screensaver xscreensaver-gl-extra rss-glx xscreensaver-data-extra

So now you are back to square one with your screensaver settings. If you noticed, none of the screensavers from Really-Slick-Screensavers are in the drop-down list of the Xscreensaver’s window. This is where we will have to do a little hack in the .xscreensaver file.

Install the Really-Slick-Screensavers: sudo apt-get install rss-glx

Once Really-Slick-Screensavers is installed, go to this directory  /usr/share/doc/rss-glx and open the text file with a text editor. This file will tell you how to add the new screensaver to the Xscreensaver control window so that you will be able to have more control of these really cool screensavers. The .xscreensaver file is found in  your $Home directory by choosing the “view hidden files” option in Nautilus File Window.

Now test it out, and enjoy. You should have Skyrockets and the rest of the screensavers in the list on the Xscreensaver’s window.


Ubuntu Geek: How to replace Gnome-screensaver with Xscreensaver in Ubuntu

Community Ubuntu: RSS-GXL

Really Slick Screensavers: Home Page


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