I am looking for a way to store lock/unlock screen times.

echo $A >> $HOME/time_xprofile

What did I try:


Then I locked the screen and checked whether file appeared and it failes every time. How can I check the time than?

  • As I read this question, I thought you were not running an X server. The answer you've selected is purely working while running an X server. Maybe you could describe your situation better...
    – ExploWare
    Mar 18, 2014 at 23:45
  • FWIW, this question was also asked on Unix/Linux stackexchange. Nov 26, 2015 at 3:44

2 Answers 2


The following script will write lock/unlock time in a file time_xprofile in your home.


dbus-monitor --session "type='signal',interface='org.gnome.ScreenSaver'" | \
( while true
    do read X
    if echo $X | grep "boolean true" &> /dev/null; then
        echo "locking at $(date)" >> $HOME/time_xprofile
    elif echo $X | grep "boolean false" &> /dev/null; then
        echo "unlocking at $(date)" >> $HOME/time_xprofile
    done )

save the script. Give it execution permission.

chmod +x script.sh

How to run

./script.sh &

Note The script should run in back ground. Do not kill it. If you turn your screen lock/unlock while the script is running in background, your time of lock/unlock will be recorded in time_xprofile file at your home. One can use it to run some command or script at screen lock/unlock.

Mind that if you close the current terminal your script will be killed. You can use

nohup ./script.sh &

Then it will continue running even after closing the terminal.

How to kill the script

To kill the process, use in terminal

ps ax| grep "[s]cript.sh" | cut -d' ' -f2 | xargs kill

Above script is inspired by this answer

  • Does it still working in ubuntu 17.10 with XServer? I don't know why is not working for me.. Nov 7, 2017 at 15:25
  • More than that: it only works a few times... Nov 7, 2017 at 22:11
  • 1
    @eddieferetro I am still on 16.04 cannot test it for you. Why don't you ask a new question specifying your issues? Dbus event for screen lock may be changed in 17.10
    – sourav c.
    Nov 8, 2017 at 2:22

In ubuntu 14.04 the DBus event for screen lock unlock has changed and the new script for binding to screen lock and unlock events looks like the following

dbus-monitor --session "type='signal',interface='com.ubuntu.Upstart0_6'" | \
  while true; do
    read X
    if echo $X | grep "desktop-lock" &> /dev/null; then
    elif echo $X | grep "desktop-unlock" &> /dev/null; then

Replace SCREEN_LOCKED and SCREEN_UNLOCKED with what you need to do.

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