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How to get the Matrix "Falling Code" Screensaver in Linux

written by: Pranav Thadeshwar•edited by: Christian Cawley•updated: 1/8/2010

The Matrix trilogy spawned a large following around the "digital rain" or "falling code" effect shown in the movies. From T-Shirts to game textures, the effect has made its presence felt. In this article, I'll show you how to get the falling code matrix screensaver for Linux.

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    Eye-candy in Linux

    New users jumping into Linux these days see a lot of eye-candy in their favorite distributions. And with the large number of desktop environments, window managers, and themes available for them, no two customized Linux desktops will be exactly the same. All those who've watched the movie "The Matrix" or its sequels will have seen monitors showing the code of the matrix scrolling down. And while it doesn't really make any sense, it looks incredibly cool as a screensaver.

    Fortunately for us people, Jamie Zawinsky has created 2 incredibly beautiful screensavers which look exactly like the falling code in the movie. And depending on your computer's graphics horsepower, you can use 2D version which is lighter on your computer, or the 3D version which incorporates all sorts of fancy effects. These screensavers have been created for the xscreensaver application which can be separately installed using your distribution's package manager. These 2 screensavers are included with the xscreensaver application and can be chosen using xscreensaver's options tool.

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    This is the 3D version of the Matrix screensaver. It requires you to have an OpenGL accelerated desktop (Refer to one of my previous articles here.) Once you have an OpenGL supported desktop, just install xscreensaver using your distribution's package manager and select GLMatrix from the huge list of screensavers available. You can watch a video of the GLMatrix screensaver in action here

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    If you're using a low-performance computer/laptop or a netbook with an onboard graphics card and cannot run heavy 3D stuff without slowing down your system to a crawl, this 2D version of the Matrix screensaver is for you. This version has a 2D interface with the falling code, minus any special effects. Here is a video of the screensaver in action.

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    While these are the only two Matrix screensaver Linux OS tweaks, as opposed to the many more for Windows, they're very realistic and can make your computer look uber-cool when bundled with a similarly themed desktop environment and other applications like media players and web browsers like Firefox. And knowing the nature of open-source programmers, you can be sure that more screensavers inspired by the Matrix falling code will be released.