The X resource database is a kind of configuration abstraction (somewhat analogous to the MS-Windows registry). You create/manage one or more text configuration files (system wide ones, and
~/.Xdefaults), these are loaded into the X server by during the startup process, and applications can query the relevant settings instead of (though often as well as) custom configuration files.
You need to keep reading that
xscreensaver man page, the Configuration section tells you exactly what to do:
The syntax of the .xscreensaver file is similar to that of the .Xdefaults file; for example, to set the timeout parameter in the .xscreensaver file, you would write the following:
whereas, in the
.Xdefaults file, you would write
If you change a setting in your X resource database, or if you want xscreensaver to notice your changes immediately instead of the next time it wakes up, then you will need to reload your .Xdefaults file, and then tell the running xscreensaver process to restart itself, like so:
xrdb < ~/.Xdefaults
Don't forget the
xrdb step, changes to resource files need to be imported.
You don't need to enter every setting into your
.Xdefaults, only the changes relative to those set in the (system dependent)
xrdb -all -query | grep xscreensaver will help.
Trading one configuration file for another isn't a great leap, but X resource files let you keep any and all resource-aware application settings together, and also offers dynamic configuration by way of pre-processing (e.g. dependent on host and client settings).