I want to turn my debian 8 server's display off after X time of inactivity.

I tried editing my /etc/X11/xorg.conf and now it looks like:

# nvidia-xconfig: X configuration file generated by nvidia-xconfig
# nvidia-xconfig:  version 375.20  (buildmeister@swio-display-x86-rhel47-06)  Tue Nov 1
5 17:49:44 PST 2016

Section "ServerLayout"
    Identifier     "Layout0"
    Screen      0  "Screen0"
    InputDevice    "Keyboard0" "CoreKeyboard"
    InputDevice    "Mouse0" "CorePointer"
    Option "StandbyTime" "1"
    Option "SuspendTime" "1"
    Option "OffTime" "1"
    Option         "BlankTime" "1"

Section "Files"

Section "InputDevice"
        # generated from default
        Identifier     "Mouse0"
        Driver         "mouse"
        Option         "Protocol" "auto"
        Option         "Device" "/dev/psaux"
        Option         "Emulate3Buttons" "no"
        Option         "ZAxisMapping" "4 5"

Section "InputDevice"
        # generated from default
        Identifier     "Keyboard0"
        Driver         "kbd"

Section "Monitor"
        Identifier     "Monitor0"
        VendorName     "Unknown"
        ModelName      "Unknown"
        HorizSync       28.0 - 33.0
        VertRefresh     43.0 - 72.0
        Option         "DPMS"

Section "Device"
        Identifier     "Device0"
        Driver         "nvidia"
        VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"

Section "Screen"
        Identifier     "Screen0"
        Device         "Device0"
        Monitor        "Monitor0"
        DefaultDepth    24
        SubSection     "Display"
                Depth       24

Right now it goes off , but the display is still on (since i have an LCD , the backlight is always on)

How do i completely turn off the display ? I am using an nvidia graphics card.

  • 1
    The backlight might be controlled by different hardware, and not react to dpms. Unfortunately, backlight controlling is not standardized, and even different between models of the same manufacturer. If it's a laptop, do the brightness controls work? – dirkt Nov 28 '16 at 7:21
  • when I didnt have my graphics card, the display used to power off. – harveyslash Nov 28 '16 at 14:20
  • In other words, you are using an external LCD monitor with backlight, with your old graphics card or the integrated graphics the backlight turned off, and now, with the new graphics card, it doesn't? Is that correct? And both graphics cards are/were connected in the same way to your LCD monitor? – dirkt Nov 28 '16 at 14:39
  • with the graphics card I am using HDMI, while without it , i was using VGA – harveyslash Nov 28 '16 at 14:42

To get screen blanking for an X session, place in your .xinitrc or similar:

xset dpms A B C

where A B C are timeout values for standby, suspend and power-off, respectively. I think if you make them all the same, it will just power-off at that time.

To get screen blanking for a tty, use:

setterm -blank 0 -powerdown 0

in that tty. You can also send this to a specific tty with a redirection; i.e., append >>/dev/ttyX.

More complete information on using DPMS is available here:


  • on boot , i am prompted the login screen. whose account should i use for xinitrc ? also, i just ran xset dmps 1 1 1 on terminal and i got the error: xset: unknown option dmps – harveyslash Nov 28 '16 at 5:10
  • 1
    xset dmps is a typo, it should be xset dpms (Display Power Management Signaling). You can also force power off with xset dpms force off. But I suspect some driver issue so DPMS might not be working over HDMI. – dirkt Nov 28 '16 at 14:57
  • Typo corrected. – DepressedDaniel Nov 28 '16 at 19:32

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