Results from poll about future of XScreensavers in KDE Plasma

Today ended the poll on about the future of X Screen saver support in the KDE Plasma Workspaces. I want to thank everybody who participated in the poll. The poll and the thread clearly help us to see what the users need and want and what we need to provide.

Here are the results:

  • 153 (53.5 %): I don’t use screen savers, it doesn’t affect me
  • 92 (32.2 %): Finally new screen savers, thanks a lot
  • 22 (7.7 %): I would miss them but could live without them
  • 4 (1.4 %): I would complain
  • 2 (0.7 %): I would switch to another Desktop Environment
  • 13 (4.5 %): I don’t care

Of course the poll does not reflect the diversity of our users. We are not able to reach the Pennys out there who do not even know that they use the KDE Plasma Workspaces. But I am personally convinced that the Pennys do not use screen savers as we do not enable or even install screen savers by default and make it non trivial to configure them.

We always try to develop the software so that most users are suited well. The poll result shows that only a minority really wants the old screen savers, but that one third of our community is eager to get new and modern screen savers. But even more important is that more than half of our user base will benefit from the work on the new screen locker directly.

This confirms the plan we have to improve the screen locker for 4.8 and that keeping the screen savers as a fallback is an acceptable solution for 4.8. Given the results I will also look into getting the new screen savers ready for 4.8 and not only for 4.9.

Again thanks to everybody who participated in the poll to make the KDE workspaces better.

34 Replies to “Results from poll about future of XScreensavers in KDE Plasma”

  1. I’ve regularly broken my install because I couldn’t stand waiting for the cool new features to arrive in a stable release… keep going 😉

    1. screen savers do not provide any security. The screen locker provides security. If you don’t trust the new screen locker implementation I invite you to help doing a code audit before the branch gets merged into master.

  2. So, kde developers continue to work on new screensavers/screenlocker and drop XScreeensaver support? Or what?

  3. Please just make few, but totally new and functional screensavers (like layer for widgets, or rss etc.). And at least one suited for LCDs, which should be white, not black.

    1. As I understand the whole process, the widgets-on-screensaver feature will still be available. As it is today already, you can place widgets on your screensaver (or screenlocker, then). Don’t know exactly where the relevant checkbox is in systemsettings, though.

  4. I would just recommend that you try and port a few of the more popular screensavers over, as i think that would cut way down on the number of complaints you will receive. I believe they are all quite simple, so it wouldn’t take much work.

    1. I am not going to spend my time for something I consider completely useless. We will develop one or two simple example screen savers so that others can implement them but I’m not going to develop screen savers.

      1. Fair enough, you can do whatever you want. But when you start getting trolled on hundreds of blogs and articles on the internet, you’ll have no one but yourself to blame.

        1. @Matt: I recall seeing someone – probably Martin – giving a good rationale for why screensavers are useless (one good reason: LCDs don’t need saving!). In light of that, and the work that will need to go into the new system, I can find no fault in him for not wanting to spend time porting or reimplementing old screensavers.
          Nevertheless, I think you have a point when you say that there may be some fallout on the blogosphere. Stupid though it may be, it could make a lot of unwanted noise and FUD.
          @Martin: Since you are (understandably) not wanting to spend time on this, perhaps you could explicitly mention this in a future blog post, and invite others to take up the task of bringing some of the classics to the new implementation. That would serve the dual purpose of giving a clear statement and rationale on the matter to point to if people get mad, and to make interested people aware of what they could be doing


            What will happen if you leave your pc and forgot to shut it down or whatever? you display will be showing still image for hours, thats not good

            I don’t know how about you but I don’t like to leave my lcd for hours dislaying still image… I sometimes need to pop-up from computer for about 30-60min, usually I just play some movie to leave crystals busy. Also I don’t like shutting down display couple times per day couse ccfl backlit doesn’t like it either… so screensavers sounds so ’90s but they can be useful in 2011 too

              1. if the environment was able to pay 600€ to replace my current display maybe I would keep shuting it off and starting on in every opportunity, for now I’m going to leave my habit and don’t shut it if I’m going out for less then 30-60mins

                1. Just blank your screen if you don’t want to turn it off. Playing a freaking movie when noone is on the system will hurt the monitor much more than just blanking all crystals.

                  People never cease to amaze me…

        2. Martin is doing a great job in improving those parts of the workspace which really impact the overall experience (stability, speed, usability, etc.).

          If you want screensavers ported, make it happen. If you can’t code, find someone to do it for you (e.g. social media).

          1. I’m not complaining. I honestly don’t care about such things myself. I’m just pointing out that this is a PR disaster for KDE waiting to happen. Maybe when a few Martin creates the examples someone else will step up and port a few of the classics. I’m just saying we should prepare for the worst if that doesn’t happen.

            1. there won’t be a pr desaster. We will clearly communicate and also show that we only follow what the majority of our users whishes.

              1. Sorry, but a little internet poll hidden away does not constitute the “majority” of your users. Most users don’t ever read this blog. The ones who do are likely to have a very different viewpoint and opinions than those who do not, simply by the nature of the blog.

                I will hope for the best, but given past history I wouldn’t count on it.

                1. it was not only advertised here in the blog and yes we are aware that we cannot reach all users. But we can try to make the best out of it.

        3. I’m not a real programmer, only an advanced user… some years ago i tried to learn how to make a screensaver for xscreensaver… argh! it was too difficult for me! Maybe creating a new screensaver in qml isn’t so difficult… then more advanced user can make one! Then there will be more new screensavers than before! Am i wrong?

  5. Could you please direct me to the article that describes what is happening with the screensavers? I’m very concerned because having electricsheep fractals displaying in my house when I’m not using my computer is an important part of my visual environment and has been for many years. While for some there may not be any pragmatic importance, for others, art and visual environments have the weight of any activity. It doesn’t seem realistic to consider a poll of 300 people in such a secluded area as a definitive fact.

    1. The articles are in my blog and of course you will always be able to run any kind of animations on your system as you like. It might just be that it won’t be possible while the screen is locked.

  6. You seriously think a poll on a web forum that got fewer than 300 responses tells you ANYTHING about what your user base wants?

    The subset of KDE users that are active users of a specific web forum, that hang out on that forum when they don’t have problems and that answer polls there, is highly unlikely to be at all representative of your user base at large. And we’re not just talking about missing the “Penny”s (thanks for the sexist stereotyping BTW!) – there are all kinds of users who do not answer random polls on random forums.

    This is not market research. This is madness.

    1. You seriously think a poll on a web forum that got fewer than 300 responses tells you ANYTHING about what your user base wants?

      No, of course not.

      The subset of KDE users that are active users of a specific web forum, that hang out on that forum when they don’t have problems and that answer polls there, is highly unlikely to be at all representative of your user base at large.

      I think I admitted in the post that this is not a representative poll. But that was not intended at all. I am fully aware that we can only reach a subset on the forum.

      And we’re not just talking about missing the “Penny”s (thanks for the sexist stereotyping BTW!)

      It is not sexist at all. It is a reference to a well-known geek sitcom. It helps everybody to understand the kind of users. Whether such a user is male or female does not matter at all. We could construct a similar male persona, but that would be sexist as well.

      This is not market research. This is madness.

      Well it was not market research in the first place. It was a question to users who care about KDE. We asked them for their opinion. The alternative would have been to do no poll at all. Unfortunately we cannot do real market research due to various constraints. If you want to do a proper market research for KDE we are more than happy to welcome your work.

  7. Great job, Martin! Please, make a new post when the first example of screensaver is done, in order to emphasize it. I’m learning qml and i have some ideas for a new screensaver…

    BTW, about these new screensavers… can they be installed via GHNS? I really hope so…

    Many thanks for all your work.

  8. Please, reimplement the “Solar Wind (GL)” screen saver.
    Whatever technology could lay behind that, but I need that animation.

    A question: if I decide not to use the new engine, will I able to switch back or do I have to completely turn off compositing?

    1. I am not going to implement any screen animations. If you have a legacy screen saver configured it will work as it used to work in 4.8.

  9. Redoing screenlocking/screensavers is a great thing, thanks a lot!

    One question here: if new screensavers will be qml/plasma-based and support plasma widgets over them, what is the difference between them and animated wallpapers?

    Is there a need for them to be separated? Could i use (some-simple-screensaver-with-animated-grass-for-example) as a plasma-desktop wallpaper? Could a i use a plain image as my screensaver background? Yes, it might require a “do not list in wallpapers” flag for some (cpu|gpu)-heavy or fast-moving screensavers.

    It would be perfect, if they will be downlodable via the GHNS and if the configuration dialog would look like plasma wallpaper dialog (but with a preview?), and not like the old screensaver one.

    Thanks ).

  10. hope screensavers, an obsolete technology, will disappear once for all anytime soon!

    modern technology: turn off the screen, save money and environment.

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