I'm trying to run a xscreensaver application through gnome-screensaver engine with some custom options.

Since gnome-screensaver doesn't offer a simple GUI that would help to tweak a particular screensaver, I've done a little research and I found out that in order to change the settings, I'd need to create a .desktop file in


So I copied (for example) the phosphor.desktop file to phosphor2.desktop in the same directory and restarted gnome-screensaver-preferences. New instance was not found in the list in the dialog.

Irritated, I deleted my newly created *.desktop file and edited directly the default phosphor.desktop. Here's the fun part - it turns out that merely changing something in this file, like from

Exec=phosphor -root


Exec=phosphor -root -scale 2

causes this particular screensaver to be REMOVED from the list. If you edit the file back to original settings, the Phosphorus screensaver is again visible.

Does anybody have an idea what might be going on there - and, ideally, an idea for a workaround? Google does not help me in this issue. The steps I've taken seem to be sufficient to add a new screensaver.

Just in case: Ubuntu 9.04, gnome-screensaver 2.28.0

  • This is an ancient post that just got bumped. It's probably long overtaken by events, but xscreensaver does have its own interface for screensaver action settings, as well as tweaking the characteristics settings of the screensavers. You run xscreensaver-demo to access that. All of the settings are stored in a file in your home directory, .xscreensaver. – fixer1234 Jul 3 '19 at 0:16

Already read How come my xscreensaver "hacks" don't show up in the gnome-screensaver configuration tool?

Also that seems to be a bug (parser?) in the way you describe, file a bug to gnome reporting that behavior.

  • The link is dead. Without it, it appears that the primary information in the answer is now missing. – fixer1234 Jul 3 '19 at 0:09

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