author Sam Lantinga <>
Fri, 29 Feb 2008 13:55:44 +0000
changeset 4139 568c9b3c0167
parent 1187 19d8949b4584
permissions -rw-r--r--
* Added configure option --enable-screensaver, to allow enabling the screensaver by default.
* Use XResetScreenSaver() instead of disabling screensaver entirely.

Full discussion summary from Erik on the SDL mailing list:

Current behaviour

SDL changes the user's display power management settings without
permission from the user and without telling the user.

The interface that it uses to do so is DPMSDisable/DPMSEnable, which
should only ever be used by configuration utilities like KControl, never
by normal application programs, let alone by the libraries that they
use. Using an interface that is not at all intended for what SDL tries
to achieve means that it will not work as it should. Firstly, the power
management is completely disabled during the whole lifetime of the SDL
program, not only when it should be. Secondly, it makes SDL
non-reentrant, meaning that things will break when multiple SDL programs
are clients of the same X server simultaneously. Thirdly, no cleanup
mechanism ensures that the setting is restored if the client does not do
that (for example if it crashes).

In addition to that, this interface is broken on xorg,
[], so what SDL tries
to do does not work at all on that implementation of the X Window
System. (The reason that the DPMSEnable works in KControl is that it
calls DPMSSetTimeout immediately after,

The problems that the current behaviour causes
1. Information leak. When the user is away, someone might see what the
user has on the display when the user counts on the screensaver
preventing this. This does not even require physical access to the
workstation, it is enough to see it from a distance.
2. Draining battery. An SDL program that runs on a laptop will quickly
drain the battery while the user is away. The system will soon shut down
and require recharging before being usable again, while it should in
fact have consumed very little energy if the user's settings would have
been obeyed.
3. Wasting energy. Even if battery issues are not considered, energy as
such is wasted.
4. Display wear. The display may be worn out.

The problems that the current behaviour tries to solve

1. Preventing screensaver while playing movies.
Many SDL applications are media players. They have reasons to prevent
screensavers from being activated while a movie is being played. When a
user clicks on the play button it can be interpreted as saying "play
this movie, but do not turn off the display while playing it, because I
will watch it even though I do not interact with the system".

2. Preventing screensaver when some input bypasses X.
Sometimes SDL uses input from another source than the X server, so
that the X server is bypassed. This obviously breaks the screensaver
handling. SDL tries to work around that.

3. Preventing screensaver when all input bypasses X.
There is something called Direct Graphics Access mode, where a
program takes control of both the display and the input devices from the
X server. This obviously means that the X server can not handle the
screensaver alone, since screensaver handling depends on input handling.
SDL does not do what it should to help the X server to handle the
screensaver. Nor does SDL take care of screeensaver handling itself. SDL
simply disables the screensaver completely.

How the problems should be solved

The correct way for an application program to prevent the screensaver
under X is to call XResetScreenSaver. This was recently discovered and
implemented by the mplayer developers,
[]. SDL needs to
wrap this in an API call (SDL_ResetScreenSaver) and implement it for the
other video targets (if they do not have a corresponding call, SDL
should do what it takes on that particular target, for example sending
fake key events).

1. When a movie is played, the player should reset the screensaver when
the animation is advanced to a new frame. The same applies to anything
similar, like slideshows.

2. When the X server is handling input, it must handle all input
(keyboards, mice, gamepads, ...). This is necessary, not only to be able
to handle the screensaver, but also so that it can send the events to
the correct (the currently active) client. If there is an input device
that the X server can not handle for some reason (such as lack of Plug
and Play capability), the program that handles the device as a
workaround must simulate what would happen if the X server would have
handled the device, by calling XResetScreenSaver when input is received
from the device.

3. When the X server is not handling the input, it depends on the
program that does to call XResetScreenSaver whenever an input event
occurs. Alternatively the program must handle the screensaver countdown
internally and call XActivateScreenSaver.
     1 ==============================================================================
     2 Using the Simple DirectMedia Layer with OpenBSD/wscons
     3 ==============================================================================
     5 The wscons SDL driver can be used to run SDL programs on OpenBSD
     6 without running X.  So far, the driver only runs on the Sharp Zaurus,
     7 but the driver is written to be easily extended for other machines.
     8 The main missing pieces are blitting routines for anything but 16 bit
     9 displays, and keycode maps for other keyboards.  Also, there is no
    10 support for hardware palettes.
    12 There is currently no mouse support.
    14 To compile SDL with support for wscons, use the
    15 "--enable-video-wscons" option when running configure.  I used the
    16 following command line:
    18 ./configure --disable-oss --disable-ltdl --enable-pthread-sem \
    19 	    --disable-esd --disable-arts --disable-video-aalib  \
    20 	    --enable-openbsdaudio --enable-video-wscons \
    21 	    --prefix=/usr/local --sysconfdir=/etc
    24 Setting the console device to use
    25 =================================
    27 When starting an SDL program on a wscons console, the driver uses the
    28 current virtual terminal (usually /dev/ttyC0).  To force the driver to
    29 use a specific terminal device, set the environment variable
    32 bash$ SDL_WSCONSDEV=/dev/ttyC1 ./some-sdl-program
    34 This is especially useful when starting an SDL program from a remote
    35 login prompt (which is great for development).  If you do this, and
    36 want to use keyboard input, you should avoid having some other program
    37 reading from the used virtual console (i.e., do not have a getty
    38 running).
    41 Rotating the display
    42 ====================
    44 The display can be rotated by the wscons SDL driver.  This is useful
    45 for the Sharp Zaurus, since the display hardware is wired so that it
    46 is correctly rotated only when the display is folded into "PDA mode."
    47 When using the Zaurus in "normal," or "keyboard" mode, the hardware
    48 screen is rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise.
    50 To let the wscons SDL driver rotate the screen, set the environment
    51 variable SDL_VIDEO_WSCONS_ROTATION to "CW", "CCW", or "UD", for
    52 clockwise, counter clockwise, and upside-down rotation respectively.
    53 "CW" makes the screen appear correct on a Sharp Zaurus SL-C3100.
    55 When using rotation in the driver, a "shadow" frame buffer is used to
    56 hold the intermediary display, before blitting it to the actual
    57 hardware frame buffer.  This slows down performance a bit.
    59 For completeness, the rotation "NONE" can be specified to use a shadow
    60 frame buffer without actually rotating.  Unsetting
    61 SDL_VIDEO_WSCONS_ROTATION, or setting it to '' turns off the shadow
    62 frame buffer for maximum performance.
    65 Running MAME
    66 ============
    68 Since my main motivation for writing the driver was playing MAME on
    69 the Zaurus, I'll give a few hints:
    71 XMame compiles just fine under OpenBSD.
    73 I'm not sure this is strictly necessary, but set
    75 MY_CPU = arm
    77 in makefile.unix, and
    81 in src/unix/unix.max
    83 to be sure.
    85 The latest XMame (0.101 at this writing) is a very large program.
    86 Either tinker with the make files to compile a version without support
    87 for all drivers, or, get an older version of XMame.  My recommendation
    88 would be 0.37b16.
    90 When running MAME, DO NOT SET SDL_VIDEO_WSCONS_ROTATION!  Performace
    91 is MUCH better without this, and it is COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY, since
    92 MAME can rotate the picture itself while drawing, and does so MUCH
    93 FASTER.
    95 Use the Xmame command line option "-ror" to rotate the picture to the
    96 right.
    99 Acknowledgments
   100 ===============
   102 I studied the wsfb driver for XFree86/Xorg quite a bit before writing
   103 this, so there ought to be some similarities.
   106 --
   107 Staffan Ulfberg <>