When in console (i.e. not in Gnome or KDE) the display will automatically power down in case of inactivity. It seems to me to be set to something around 30 minutes. This power management is completely independent of the X server, and indeed works when no X server is installed. It seems to work entirely independent of userspace.

Is it perhaps done by kernel?

Can somebody please explain where this power management comes from and how it can be configured (i.e. changing the timeout, etc).

I am using Debian Wheezy

1 Answer 1


You can change that with setterm -blank X (X is the number of minutes). From man setterm:

-blank [0-60|force|poke] (virtual consoles only)
       Sets the interval of inactivity, in minutes,  after  which  the
       screen  will be automatically blanked (using APM if available).
       Without an argument, gets the blank status  (returns  which  vt
       was blanked or zero for unblanked vt).

       The force option keeps screen blank even if a key is pressed.

       The poke option unblank the screen.

Alternatively you can set the kernel parameter consoleblank=Y (Y being seconds here). consoleblank=0 disables blanking.

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