How do I configure the splitflap screen-saver? I was able to figure out all documented parameters like -no-spin or -no-wander. Yet I haven't found a way to specify a text to show or select a site to fetch text from. There is a -mode text but no way to add text.

So TL;DR how to prevent the screensaver from saying


(Yes, there is only on slash after http: and no slash after .com)

Edit: The screensaver in question is located in /usr/lib/xscreensaver/ and the executable is called splitflap. I'm using Linux Mint 18.1 with MATE and the screensaver came with the OS.

  • I cannot find any Ubuntu package by that name. Perhaps if you were to edit your post to indicate where you got it we could help you?
    – Elder Geek
    Feb 7, 2017 at 17:10
  • Sadly, Mint is off topic here. You can try the Unix & Linux stack exchange. Feb 8, 2017 at 21:35
  • Fill a bugreport: bugs.launchpad.net/linuxmint Feb 18, 2017 at 12:47

2 Answers 2


The reason you get that message (in various screensavers) is that the default XScreensaver configuration points to a URL that is no longer valid. I suppose from the name that it used to point to an RSS feed of news from fridge.ubuntu.com.

You can change the URL, either for fridge.ubuntu.com or some RSS feed, by editing $HOME/.xscreensaver. You'll find an entry there called "textURL" with that obsolete URL. Change it to "http://feeds.feedburner.com/ubuntu-news?format=xml" to get what I think used to be the behavior. You can change it to something else. For example, "http://feeds.feedburner.com/blogspot/gJZg" would get you the Google Research Blog.

If you'd like to make that change system-wide instead of just for a single user, the files you want to modify are /etc/X11/app-default/XScreensaver-gl and -nogl. Values in a user's ~/.xscreensaver would take precedence. (That's true at least on a modern ubuntu-based distribution; I don't know about others.)

I guess I should clarify that it kinda-sorta depends on your configuration, but you are most likely running gnome-screensaver or mate-screensaver, in which case the above instructions work. If you are unlucky, it could be something entirely different (but you would probably know about it since you did something non-standard). For some interesting background as well as some reference documentation, have a look at www.jwz.org/xscreensaver. (I can't post a link because I already used my quota of 2 earlier.)

  • 1
    That was the solution! The file was in the second location you mentioned (/etc/X11/app-defaults/XScreensaver-gl and -nogl) A ~/.xscreensaver) file doesn't exist on my system, which is Linux Mint Serena with a Mate Desktop.
    – DBX12
    May 28, 2017 at 20:11
  • 1
    ~/.xscreensaver might show up later, in which case you can edit it directly. You can also replace mate-screensaver with the original Xscreensaver, and in that case there is a GUI program called xscreensaver-demo for modifying the config file. (It has one feature that I really like a lot, which is that you can select which screensavers to include or not include when you choose "random".) May 29, 2017 at 22:24

I worked it out (actually worked it out much sooner, but forgot to answer my question)

To get personal text on your splitflap screensaver do the following:

  1. Install a small webserver (it just needs to deliver a single file; I have full-grown apache on my dev machine, so using this is just fine)
  2. Create a file somewhere on your web root which contains a valid RSS feed. E.g. /var/www/html/myfeed.rss
  3. Select splitflap as your screensaver
  4. Edit /etc/X11/app-defaults/XScreensaver and set *textURL: to the URL of your feed http://localhost/myfeed.rss
  5. Test the screensaver

Format of the myfeed.rss:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<rss version="2.0">
            Here is my funny text

I haven't tried more than one item, as I'm using a little PHP script to create a random quote on each call. Maybe suppling more than one quote will scroll automatically. If someone tries, let me know and I amend the answer.

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