If the monitor on a remote Ubuntu Server goes into sleep mode, is there a way that you can wake it up from an SSH command line?

I have tried using export "DISPLAY=:0" and then xset -dpms to try and turn off power saving modes but I get:

 Invalid MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 keyxset:  unable to open display ":0"

The server is Ubuntu 16.04.3 LTS running the Zentyal web front end. There is a UI on the remote server that local admins can log into, but for some unknown reason after applying updates via the Zentyal web admin screen and re-booting the screen seems to go into power save and wiggling the mouse or pressing a key won't wake it so I am trying to force the server to wake up the screen.

  • Did you try plugging it out and in again? Seriously, did you try xrandr --output YOURSCREEN --off && xrandr --output YOURSCREEN --auto? You did run xset as root, didn't you? – dessert Oct 11 '17 at 11:19
  • Did you try to set the display directly in xset? xset -display :0 -dpms – dessert Oct 11 '17 at 11:31
  • @dessert I am remote to the site that has the server so I asked them to wiggle the mouse and press a shift key on the server's keyboard and that did not work. The screen just reports that it is in power save mode. I didn't run xset as root or use sudo and I did not run xrandr. – Siv Oct 11 '17 at 17:42
  • @dessert I did try running xset -display using two separate commands, ie: – Siv Oct 11 '17 at 19:08

I know this thread is old, but just in case someone is wondering. I was getting exactly the same problem: unable to open display ":0"

I was trying to turn on two of my displays via SSH, but it failed with the message from above. Other thing I had to say is that I wasn't logged on the console of the physical PC, so, only the logon screen was there, but the displays were off because of the idle settings.

So, on my case, I had to add also the XAUTHORITY variable as follows:

#Turn on the main display
sudo DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/run/user/121/gdm/Xauthority xrandr --output HDMI-0 --off
sudo DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/run/user/121/gdm/Xauthority xrandr --output HDMI-0 --auto

#Turn on the second display
sudo DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/run/user/121/gdm/Xauthority xrandr --output DP-4 --right-of HDMI-0 --off
sudo DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/run/user/121/gdm/Xauthority xrandr --output DP-4 --right-of HDMI-0 --auto

Here I have to mention that I'm using Ubuntu 18 with gdm3 as display manager. You should check the path:


It maybe different on your system. Also check your xorg.conf configuration. There I defined two screens as follows:

    Screen      0  "Screen0"
    Screen      1  "Screen1" RightOf "Screen0"

That's why I'm using the "--right-of" option.

Finally check the names of your ouputs by running:

sudo DISPLAY=:0 XAUTHORITY=/run/user/121/gdm/Xauthority xrandr -q

There you will get the right names. On my case: "HDMI-0" (main monitor) and "DP-4" (second monitor).

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  • Thanks for your comment, this was a long time ago and I got sick of Zentyal and the HP Server it was running on causing problems like this so now we have a Dell Server running ClearOS and everything works like a charm, so I don't need to fix it any more, however I have this page bookmarked and if I hit this issue in the future I will at least know how to fix it. Thanks again. – Siv May 27 at 19:31

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