How to tell gnome-session(3), or gnome-screensaver, that there's been activity?

Under some circumstances I don’t want my screen to lock. (Typically: I’m stepping away from the desk, while a computation is running, but I won’t leave the room and still have an eye on it why it’s active; sometimes, I’ll add more tasks to a queue, so that it’s not "done when it’s done")

Is there a mechanism to tell GNOME session or ~ screensaver not to lock? I was expecting there to be a clever DBUS API for that, but GNOME’s documentation seems to depend on the private homedir of someone who’s since deleted it: links to the 404

Even better: is there a Freedesktop standardized API for this? I mostly work on Cinnamon-session with an awesome WM, but this problem I encounter mostly on machines where I’ve only got access to a Gnome session; however, if there’s a one-size-fits-all solution, I’d greatly prefer that.

Asked By: Marcus Müller


At least under X, you can use xdg-screensaver to inhibit a compliant screensaver as long as a given window exists:

xdg-screensaver suspend <window-id>

There is a Freedesktop D-Bus interface for screensavers, which you would invoke using something like

dbus-send --session --dest=org.freedesktop.ScreenSaver --type=method_call --print-reply 
          /ScreenSaver org.freedesktop.ScreenSaver.Inhibit 
          string:"myapplication" string:"displaying long computations"

but that doesn’t work from dbus-send since it’s tied to the caller — calling it from a long-running Python script should do the trick.

(--print-reply is included because the return value is important — it’s a cookie used to uninhibit the screensaver.)

See also Prevent system from going to sleep/suspend – how Xviewer/VLC do it

Answered By: Stephen Kitt
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