Stop Xubuntu 20.04 from blanking the screen every 5 minutes

Xubuntu, adjusting the screensaver settings for time and type

Adjusting the Screensaver and Power Management Settings

Changing the screensaver type and time

One of the things that often confuses people new to Xubuntu Linux is that the screen goes blank after 5 minutes of inactivity. This blank screen is actually Xubuntu’s default screensaver setting. Both the blank screen and 5 minute setting can be changed through the screensaver and power management settings.

Start by clicking the whisker menu in the top left of the screen and typing the word screensaver. Next click the icon that says screensaver to launch the screensaver program.

Whisker menu - screensaver program

Figure 1: Whisker menu - in the menu type the word: screensaver.

Once the screensaver menu is open if you see a message indicating that XFCE Power Manager is not configured to handle laptop lid events click the Resolve button beside the text.

Xubuntu - adjusting the screensaver preferences

Figure 2: Screensaver Preferences - change the type and time.

Next notice how Blank screen is selected under the Theme section. You can choose a different screensaver like the Pop art squares (2.) shown in this image. To change when the screensaver activates look near the bottom of the screen (3.) Regard the computer as idle after and change the slider to a longer time (20 minutes in the screenshot).

Next click (4.) the Power Management button at the bottom of the screen, this will bring up a new dialog box.

Changing Power Management behaviours

Another issue that can occur, particularly on laptops is that power management features kick in powering off the screen or even powering the laptop off. After opening the Power Management window (described above) you’ll see a dialog box with the following tabs: General, System, Display, and Devices. Click the Display tab.

Xubuntu - Click the display tab in the power manager

Figure 3: XFCE Power Management - click the display tab

If you’re using your laptop plugged into the wall you probably don’t want it blanking the screen, going to sleep, or switching off after a short time. These three behaviours can be adjusted to a longer time by sliding the sliders for each option under Plugged In to the right.

While it seems counter-intuitive, if you want your laptop to never go to sleep while plugged in slide the Put to sleep after slide all the way to the left side. Sliding to the right increases the time, sliding to the left decreases the time until it’s 0 (never). Don’t forget to click the Close button when you’re done and click the Close button to also close the Screensaver Preferences window behind.

Xubuntu - Adjust the various power manager settings

Figure 4: Power Manager - adjusting various power settings

On battery settings

If you're using a laptop it might also make sense to change the on battery settings. Depending on your use case you might want to blank the screen after 1 minute or 15 minutes. If you only ever use your laptop at home it might make sense to bump the blank after on battery to 15 minutes. In a work environment it makes more sense to blank the screen after 1 to 2 minutes to better protect your data.

Click the Close button to close out the power management settings when done.

Screensaver Preferences - Lock Screen

On the Screensaver Preferences screen there's a tab that controls the Lock Screen options. The most common options on this screen are to Enable/Disable the Lock Screen and to set the time the lock screen kicks in after the screensaver is active. It's a bit confusing, but the lock screen can be set to only lock after a certain period the screensaver is active. Set to 0 it will activate as soon as the screensaver is active.

You have the power

Puns aside there's quite a bit of control in Xubuntu over the behaviour of the screen during inactivity. But with this control comes a certain level of complexity. Between the screensaver preferences and power management settings you should have control over most of the screen blanking issues you might have.