Ubuntu – Monitor won’t enter power save mode


My LCD monitor won't enter power save mode.

I've gone into SystemPreferencesScreensaver, clicked Power Management, then set Put display to sleep when inactive for: to 10 minutes (for both On AC Power and On Battery Power), but the monitor still doesn't enter power save mode, even after an hour.

Anyone have ideas on what to try?

I'm using Ubuntu 10.04.1 LTS 64-bit desktop on a Dell Latitude E6400 laptop.

Update Sun Jan 16 01:02:45 PST 2011:

I forgot to mention the laptop is docked, and the monitor is connected via DVI cable to the dock. I haven't tried waiting for power save mode using a VGA cable or no dock.

Best Answer

I also have this problem and I learned a lot trying to fix it. I couldn't find a GUI fix to this. I'm on a Dell Latitude D630 running 10.10, which is docked and runs two 23" LCDs.

Here's what I did, and what you can try:

xset s XXX

where XXX is the number of seconds you want the pc to be idle before it suspends/poweroff your monitor

xset dpms 0 0 900

The first zero is for standby, second is for suspend, and third is the off setting. This will turn off my monitor in 15 minutes if left idle.

You can test dpms standby, suspend and off settings with:

sleep 1; xset dpms force standby

You can replace the word "standby" in the command above with suspend or off. In my testing, they all did the same thing; they each powered off the monitor (blacklight completely off). When I moved my mouse to wake the monitors, each command did it equally as fast. For my situation, I stuck with off.

xset -q

The above command gives you interesting details about your screensaver and DPMS settings. When I ran this command before changing anything, it says

Screen Saver:
prefer blanking:  yes    allow exposures:  yes
timeout:  0    cycle:  0


DPMS (Energy Star):
Standby: 0    Suspend: 0    Off: 0
DPMS is Enabled
Monitor is On

On a fresh boot, the timeout and cycle value under Screen Saver are 600. Over time, they change to the above. This is a bug, and I'm sure its been reported @ launchpad.net. I couldn't find the appropriate bug report (if someone does, please share a link).

Now, specifying the commands above do not persist after you log out. The only way I could get it to work was to create a file called xset-start.sh in my home directory.

In the file I have:


/usr/bin/xset dpms 0 0 900 &

You need to give the file execute permissions, otherwise it wont work. Open a terminal and run:

chmod u+x xset-start.sh

To have startup at logon, do the following:

  1. Go to System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications
  2. Click Add
  3. You can name it xset-startup
  4. Browse to your home directory where xset-setup.sh is
  5. Give the startup entry a comment if you'd like and click Add when finished.

Test it by restarting your computer. After restarting, open a terminal and run

xset -q

make sure the off value for DPMS is 900.

I'm sure there are global files and other per-user startup files this could go in.

this post: External monitors don't go into standby if laptop lid is closed states that the external monitors go to sleep properly if the lid is open on the laptop. I didn't test this, but it made me think if the laptop lcd is disabled in the "Monitor" preferences, are the dpms settings being honored by the external monitors?


  1. xset manpages
  2. Custom X Session
  3. A Primer on Screen Blanking Under Xorg
  4. How to turn off the display via the command line?


  1. How can I put the display to sleep on screen lock?
Related Question