I like the 'Black Screen' screen-saver. Because it makes the monitor look like turned-off. But my CentOS takes minimum 1 min. to start it automatically.

Can I start it instantly from the terminal?

I sometimes need this feature while working with 2 monitors with two different OS. CentOS is on my VNC.


If all you want to do is blank the screen, as opposed to running a fancy animation or locking the screen, then xset can do it.

xset dpms force off

If you want to lock the display, you need a screen locking program, e.g. xscreensaver-command -lock -activate or gnome-screensaver -al or (for KDE4) qdbus org.freedesktop.ScreenSaver /ScreenSaver Lock.

If you want to turn off one monitor only, you can to it through xrandr (unless you're using a proprietary display driver, in which case you'll have the tools provided by NVidia/ATI).

xrandr --output DVI1 --off

This won't be undone by moving the mouse, you need to run xrandr --output DVI1 --auto to bring the monitor back.

  • That was awesome :) . I didn't knew about that . Jun 14 '13 at 5:09
  • 1
    But if you're concerned about security (and you should be) then you should use xlock or xscreensaver before turning off the display. (Perhaps make a wrapper that does both.)
    – bahamat
    Jun 14 '13 at 5:13
  • @bahamat For the use case “working with 2 monitors with two different OS”, locking doesn't seem useful, but I've edited it in anyway. Jun 14 '13 at 10:11
  • @Gilles: I've got to try it. But the worstation is at my office and I use windows when I'm home.I have to wait this weekend :( .Thanks ... and I'm sorry for being late. Jun 14 '13 at 11:44
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    @Gilles: Hi , Gilles... It gives this message : server does not have extension for dpms option xset: unknown option force ' Jun 16 '13 at 7:21

You can use xscreensaver command .

$ xscreensaver-command -activate

If it is not there on your system install it by :

$ sudo apt-get install xscreensaver

On Fedora/CentOS/RHEL you install it with this command:

$ sudo yum install xscreensaver-base
  • If you use gnome, you can use gnome-screensaver-command --activate. No need to install xscreensaver.
    – andcoz
    Jun 13 '13 at 5:58
  • When I tried using gnome-screensaver-command --activate my screen got locked instead of the activation of screensaver .I am using Linux Mint 14 Nadia.Do you have any idea why is it so ? Jun 13 '13 at 6:03
  • Hey Tushar Makkar , it shows 'apt-get: command not found' !! Jun 13 '13 at 6:45
  • Hi , for centOS/RHEL you need to use yum install "package name" that is in this case use su -c "yum install xscreensaver" to install Xscreensaver . For Debian based linux we use apt-get. Jun 13 '13 at 6:52
  • But , it displays : 'No package xscreensaver available.Error: Nothing to do' Jun 13 '13 at 7:50

On modern distros you'd do xdg-screensaver activate


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