A Weird Imagination

Useful global keyboard shortcuts

Most desktop environments provide options for customizing keyboard shortcuts. In XFCE, there's settings panels for both for window manager shortcuts and application shortcuts. While the term "application shortcuts" suggests using them for launching applications, and many keyboards do have special keys for launching a music player or a calculator that I do have set up, I don't find myself using those much. I have buttons on my panel for applications that I launch often; if I'm going to be clicking away into a new application, I don't find clicking on the panel to be an additional inconvenience.

On the other hand, "application shortcuts" can be used for launching arbitrary scripts, including ones don't involve switching contexts.

Keys to use#

Many keyboards have extra keys intended for global commands labeled with various symbols. If you have them, you can be creative about what you want them to mean and even combine them with modifiers (Shift, Ctrl, etc.) to get more inputs. On the other hand, if you have a more traditional keyboard layout (which is likely the case on a laptop), your choices are more limited. To avoid confusion, it's generally best to use the Windows key (usually called the Super key in Linux) for global shortcuts as it is not usually used for anything else.

Shortcut ideas#

Read more…

Reacting to screensaver starting/stopping

Posted in

The problem#

I want my computer to act differently when I'm actively using it as opposed to away from. I almost always lock the screen when I step away from my computer, so I want to have the same signal do more than just start the screensaver.

The solution#

Save the follow script which is slightly modified from the example in the man page for xscreensaver-command as watch-xscreensaver.pl:


my $blanked = 0;
open (IN, "xscreensaver-command -watch |");
while (<IN>) {
    if (m/^(BLANK|LOCK)/) {
        if (!$blanked) {
            system "on-xscreensaver-lock";
            $blanked = 1;
    } elsif (m/^UNBLANK/) {
        system "on-xscreensaver-unlock";
        $blanked = 0;
if ($blanked) {
    system "on-xscreensaver-unlock";

Either call it from your ~/.xsessionrc file or just manually run from a terminal in your X session. I run it from a screen session so I can reattach to it and see the output:

screen -d -m -S xscreensaver-watch watch-xscreensaver.pl

My on-xscreensaver-lock and on-xscreensaver-unlock scripts are below and may be a good starting place, but yours will probably be different depending on your needs.

The details#

Read more…