How to programmatically prevent linux computer from sleeping or turning on screensaver?

While developing a small cross-platform game on C++, I got stuck with following issue: when players are playing with a USB gamepad without touching a keyboard or mouse, the computer sleeps automatically while they're playing.

In Windows, it can be done easily using SetThreadExecutionState function. In OS X, I think it can be done with UpdateSystemActivity but not tested yet.

But the problem is, in Linux there's nothing like a common API between DE's. I've found that in Gnome you can stop the auto-suspending by using DBus calls Inhibit() and Uninhibit(), but it works only for Gnome.

So, is there exists a programatically cross-DE way (or non-DE way, for example if user is using something like dwm or awesome wm) to prevent a Linux system (using Xorg and without root access of course) from sleeping or turning on screensaver without changing user configuration files?

PS: Don't think that it's too complicated, but don't know how unfortunately.


  • From a quick look at how mplayer and SDL do it, there are two things you can do to prevent the screensaver from firing up:

    • Disable it for the duration of the program:
      • Using XScreenSaverSuspend
      • Using DBus, calling org.freedesktop.ScreenSaver.Inhibit
    • Ping it periodically:
      • Using XResetScreenSaver
      • Using DBus, calling org.freedesktop.ScreenSaver.SimulateUserActivity