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I am using Ubuntu 12.04. Is there any way to lock the screen or session from a terminal command or script?

are there any changes happen in 13.04 ?

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up vote 57 down vote accepted


gnome-screensaver-command -l

The following can also work, if the screensaver is set to lock when activate (see screensaver settings), since the command activates the screensaver:

gnome-screensaver-command -a

You can add an alias to the command by editing the file .profile in your home directory:

gedit $HOME/.profile

and adding the following line:

alias lock='gnome-screensaver-command -l'

Then from terminal:

source .profile

This will activate the alias. From now on, the alias lock in a terminal will have the effect of locking the screen.

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hope you won't mind :D – Raja Sep 21 '12 at 14:10
Sorry, I had to modify your changes. (i) no need to use sudo (ii) better .profile than .bashrc, since .bashrc gets called every time you create a new shell and (iii) alias works only when called from shell. – January Sep 21 '12 at 14:18
ok now its looking good , you like the idea ? – Raja Sep 21 '12 at 14:50
sure. I usually lock with a single keypress, though, makes it quicker when leaving the office for a coffee. – January Sep 21 '12 at 14:56
I think if we add more answer about creating a custom-shortcut key will improve , what do you say ? – Raja Sep 21 '12 at 14:57

In addition to what January said, this also works:

gnome-screensaver-command --lock


gnome-screensaver-command -l

According to the gnome-screensaver-command man page...

-l, --lock                 Tells the running screensaver process to lock the screen immediately
-a, --activate             Turn the screensaver on (blank the screen)

For further clarification, here is another question/answer (also by January) which describes the differences between invoking the lock and activating your screensaver:

Difference between gnome-screensaver-command -a and gnome-screensaver-command -l

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Please install vlock. Then you can switch to a VT (text terminal, using Ctrl+Alt+F1) and run

vlock -a -s

This works whether you have X11 running or not.

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looking nice . ok I'll try and let you know . thank you . – Raja Sep 14 '12 at 7:14
ok its looking good , but suits only for TTY . – Raja Sep 14 '12 at 12:59

In case that you need to lock the screen on a terminal in a non-GUI environment you could make use of screen

While in screen press the following key combinations to lock the terminal.

Ctrl + a Ctrl + x

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Thank you . now I'm in mobile . I'll try and let you know – Raja Sep 12 '12 at 11:00
For Tmux, set-option -g lock-command vlock (require vlock) – Bohr Jun 27 '15 at 14:51

Starting in Ubuntu 14.04, Unity's lock screen no longer uses gnome-screensaver. The command gnome-screensaver-command -l will still work in most cases, but see this question for exceptions.

If that command does not work (say, for instance, that gnome-screensaver is not installed), bringing up the proper Unity lock screen (not the greeter where you can switch users) can be done via this command in a terminal:

dbus-send --type=method_call --dest=org.gnome.ScreenSaver /org/gnome/ScreenSaver org.gnome.ScreenSaver.Lock

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For LightDM users, try dm-tool switch-to-greeter.

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dm-tool lock seems better as that just locks the screen. "switch to greeter" ended my session when I tried it. – pbhj Sep 7 '15 at 16:19

A dirty hack of using the shortcut Ctrl+Alt+L for the locking the screen from a terminal:

  1. Install xdotool from the software center or from the terminal as follows:

    sudo apt-get install xdotool
  2. Type the following to lock the screen from the terminal:

    xdotool key Ctrl+alt+l

Refer to the manual page for xdotool for more.

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$!(sleep 10s ; xset dpms force suspend) & xdg-screensaver lock

this starts the screen saver in locked mode and then puts your display in standby. sweet and simple, no sudo. command line or shell script works fine. i use this for a keyboard hotkey. Ubuntu Mate 15.10

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