back to article The return of the classic Flying Toasters screensaver

If you're old enough to remember After Dark, you might appreciate this: a new screensaver. Yes, in 2023. It was never really about saving screens. Screensavers are a simple tech for a bygone era. Now, of course, most of us just let our flatscreens go to sleep after a period of inactivity. But back when CRT hummed to CRT like …

  1. JassMan

    But, but, but...

    I'm sure the original XScreenSaver did have a flapping wing toaster. It lasted all of 2 days until I changed to something a bit less irritating. I thought at the time that is was a very clever bit of animation bit not so good it was worth disk space which was at a premium in those good old days. I vaguely remember the jet powered one arriving later when I had more disk, memory and computing power, but I didn't even enable it in the random selector.

  2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

    There is only one classic toaster!

    Lister: Oh no, man, dismantle him, you don't know what the little bleeder's like.

    Kryten: Well I read on the documentation Sir. He's simply a talking alarm clock that provides his owner with early morning toast and light conversation.

    Lister: Not this one, this one's mental.

    Kryten [puzzled]: Sir?

    Lister: He's defective. He wants everyone to eat toast all of the time. He's obsessed with it. And if you don't want to eat, like, four hundred rounds of toast every hour, he throws a major wobbler. That's what caused the accident in the first place.

    Kryten: What accident?

    Lister: The accident involving me, the toaster, the waste disposal and a fourteen-pound lump hammer.

    Kryten: That explains why he was down in the garbage hold in three thousand separate pieces.

    Lister: And another thing is, he always says "Howdy Doodly Doo". Drives you spare. I mean, what the smeg does "Howdy Doodly Doo" mean?

    1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      Re: There is only one classic toaster!

      Holly: [her IQ has been increased to 12,000] Strike a light! I'm a genius again! I know everything! Metaphysics, philosophy, the purpose of being-everything! Ask me a question, any question, and I'll answer it."

      Talkie Toaster: "Any question?"

      Holly: "Yes."

      Talkie Toaster: "How to break the speed of light? How to marry quantum mechanics and classical physics? Any question at all, truly anything and you will answer?"

      Holly: "Yes."

      Talkie Toaster: "OK, here's my question: Would you like some toast?"

      Holly: "No, thank you. Now ask me another."

      Talkie Toaster: "Do you know anything about the use of chaos theory in predicting weather cycles?"

      Holly: "I know everything there is to know about chaos theory and predicting weather cycles"

      Talkie Toaster: "Oh, very well. Here's my second question: Would you like a crumpet?"

      Holly: "I'm a computer with an I.Q. of 12,000. You don't seem to understand; I know the meaning of the universe."

      Talkie Toaster: "That's not answering my question."

      Holly: [irritated] "No, I would not like a crumpet! Now ask me a sensible question, preferably one that isn't bread related."

      Talkie Toaster: "Very well. I have a third question. A sensible question. A question that will tax your new I.Q. to its very limits and stretch the sinews of you knowledge to bursting point."

      Holly: This is going to be about waffles, isn't it?"

      Talkie Toaster: Certainly not. And I resent the implication that I'm a one-dimensional, bread-obsessed electrical appliance."

      Holly: I apologise, toaster. What's the question?"

      Talkie Toaster: The question is this: Given that God is infinite, and that the universe is also infinite... would you like a toasted teacake?"

      Holly: "That's another bready question".

      Talkie Toaster: "It's not just bready. It's quite curranty, too."

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Re: There is only one classic toaster!

        Damn, all of this want me to make a real life version of Talkie Toaster. Then put it in the C-suite lunch room bolted to the table and doors automatically locking when the C-suite has arrived for lunch.

        And, of course, live streamed on the internet.

        1. RockBurner

          Re: There is only one classic toaster!

          Have you setup a JustGiving or Patreon account for that yet?

        2. Mark 85

          Re: There is only one classic toaster!

          There's a problem with putting it in the C-suite. The toaster is much smarter than they are. On second thought . it might be an improvement.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There is only one classic toaster!

            Creating a new product line that has nothing to do with your industry sector? Profits will crumble!

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: There is only one classic toaster!

              ...and you bonus will be.....<drum roll>....<wait for it!>...TOAST!

              Alright, alright, I'm going....

        3. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

          Re: There is only one classic toaster!

          I’d pay to view that.

          You might have hit on a sure fire moneymaker. Now get obit!

        4. Blackjack Silver badge

          Re: There is only one classic toaster!

          Can be done with a Raspberry Pi Zero, an electronic toaster and a version of the ELIZA chatbot that only talks about Toast.

  3. Chris Gray 1

    turn it off

    I just looked, and indeed my 6(?) year old Linux release does have xscreensaver installed. But, I never use it.

    Instead, I long ago put a widget in Ubuntu Mate's task/status/menu bar thingy that executes the following script:

    #! /bin/bash

    sleep 10

    xset dpms force off

    When I'm heading away from the computer I click on the widget (I use the screensaver icon for it), move the mouse pointer to somewhere out of the way, and go. 10 seconds later, X tells the monitor to go inactive. Which it does, saving screen *and* power.

  4. katrinab Silver badge

    I was always a big fan of the black screen screensaver, long before it became the default option.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      At one point I used the screen saver that scrolled text across the screen at varying heights. The text I chose was "How do you keep an idiot in suspense?" Some weeks after setting it up my line manager rather sheepishly admitted that one evening he'd stood by my desk for 10 minutes waiting for the answer.

      1. JimboSmith Silver badge

        I changed the one on a colleague’s machine many years ago when she hadn’t locked it. She came back from a long meeting to find scrolling across her screen text akin to

        “Why do you leave me alone for so long, computers have feelings too you know.”

        She seemed to ignore that so I followed it up with something like

        “That’s right swan off to another meeting and don’t put it in your electronic diary!”

        She grabbed me when I got back to my desk and said I think my computer is talking to me. I let on at that point what I’d done.

        1. I could be a dog really

          Brilliant - simple and effective, and non-destructive.

          Suddenly it reminds me of a story from long ago - back when it was normal to use a TV as a display. The thing is, the RF modulator was commonly quite powerful, so a small leakage could create a significant signal in the vicinity. A friend knew (from the sounds that came through the wall) that his neighbour was one of those who would occasionally do a slow and careful sweep to see if he could pick up any other TV channels - for the youngsters who no longer remember these days, we had at this point now got a whopping three channels (BBC1, BBC, and ITV) - this was pre C4 ! Up here in south Cumbria we could usually pick up BBC Wales, and those a bit further north could usually pick up BBC Scotland.

          One day, my friend left his computer with a message on screen that read "Hi Jim, you old coot" (Jim being the randomised and not real name of his neighbour). Later on he heard the distinctive noise of someone tuning his TV, then silence, then a "What the **** is this ?" expletive. Ooh, to be a fly on the wall for that one.

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Someone on a Radio 4 programme this week was talking about the warm sense of community felt when everybody's walls are non sound resistant. You put music on, you reflect on what next door was listening to yesterday...

            I think it was a programme about the problem of housing in Wales when it's not your second home you actually live in Wales. And possibly in the poetry slot, Sunday 16:30. 16th April 2023, possibly. Or the week before.

      2. cosmodrome

        Nowadays you can use an RSS feed instead of static text. Can be quite useful depending on your feed source and location. Weather, traffic, todo lists or just your favourite tracks on

  5. Manolo


    Don't follow (copy/paste) the instructions on Github and put

    /usr/local/bin/bin/flying-toasters \n\

    in ~/.xscreensaver when you just installed it into /usr/local/bin.

    Also don't forget to chmod +x the file.

    And then it still doesn't work on my machine.

  6. Ben Trabetere

    Nope to Flying Toasters, but....

    I want modules for the Opus 'n Bill Bloom County screensavers.

    1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

      Re: Nope to Flying Toasters, but....

      I would be unreasonably happy if the 'Lunatic Fringe' module were to magically appear.

  7. I could be a dog really

    Ah yes, I have fond memories of the After Dark screen savers.

    But, if my addled memory serves me right, by then, it was normal for monitors to have a power saving mode - i.e. computer turns off signal, monitor turns off. So really, these were for the novelty value since the option was there to put the display to sleep - both saving power and preventing screen burn.

    And these days, while screen burn is still a real thing, we now have TV channels with fixed channel graphics ...

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Ah yes, the channel 'Bug'.... back in the 90s some channels would switch corners occasionally and even vary the spacing from the corner, as a service to their viewers. Now they prefer to service their remaining viewers in a more agricultural sense.

      1. stiine Silver badge

        channel bugs

        And they don't yet understand that on a digital tv, that you no longer have to put the logo 1/2 of its height above the bottom and to the left of the right hand side of the screen to keep it visible....YOU CAN PUT IT IN THE CORNER, because we don't use cathode ray tubes any more.

        My other gripe is that very few ad agencies actually preview their ads on youtube. I know this because the important bits are always hidden behind the SKIP button and the 1of6 banner in the upper left corner.

        Hint to advertisers on Youtube: If you are advertising on an ASMR-type channel, INCLUDE YOUR PRODUCT AND COMPANY NAME in bold print because most of us keep the volume muted and will only wonder for a few seconds why half-naked people are running on a beach (I still don't know what this ad is for...).

        1. I could be a dog really

          Re: channel bugs

          But, our digital TVs are all configured to replicate the overscan of the old CRTs. So you get a pixel-perfect digital image, which the TV then crops a bit, and resamples the pixels to fit the digital panel that the original signal would have fitted perfectly.

          And they do this because most material still assumes overscan, and most material assumes overscan because that's what TVs still do.

  8. Vlad

    Bouncing Cows

    My favoutite is the Bouncing Cows screensaver: A Cow. A Trampoline. Together, they fight crime.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not with those dependencies, I'm not!

    xlockmore ( is a little more barable.

    Perhaps the flying toaster screensaver can be made into a standalone SDL, xlib app...

  10. Muscleguy

    Ta muchly El Reg even though it reminds me of Eddie the toaster in Red Dwarf.

  11. Glenn Amspaugh

    Fold Art

    Does it have the sound of manila file folders being flapped up and down?

  12. dmesg

    Bonus points ...

    ... for those able to link the Toasters screensaver to Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

    1. DrBobK

      Re: Bonus points ...

      I bought "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland", a live album by The Jefferson Airplane, sometime in the 1970s. It has superb flying toasters on the cover (they sued Berkeley systems over copyright but lost because no-one at Berkeley systems had seen the album - philistines). The title "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" is, of course, a riff on the 1944 film "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" which was about a bombing raid on Tokyo led by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. I claim my bonus points, and my certified old hippie status.

      1. dmesg
        Thumb Up

        Re: Bonus points ...

        BINGO !! Perfectly done.

  13. mmonroe

    Pipes and Johnny Castaway

    I have fond memories of Pipes and Johnny Castaway. Having Johnny installed was a sure fire way to get no work done.

    1. navarac Bronze badge

      Re: Pipes and Johnny Castaway

      Yep, Johnny Castaway gets my vote. Spent ages watching it. Shame it was only 16-bit, but then there is DOS-box!

  14. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    poor toast-deprived penguin-fondler

    An upvote for that alone!

  15. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C


    xJack for me please.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: XScreenSaver?

      We tried a couple of those at [RedactedCo] for a digital signage type application that ran in IE of all things. The current name of those is just "JackPC" made by Chip PC. Neat concept, but the ones we played with could barely run the Windows Embedded they had, let along a web browser.

  16. Adam Trickett


    I remember sitting next to someone who had the BSOD screensaver on their laptop, I found it very stressful to watch...

    I do remember the original Flying Toasters, but as others have said, CRTs of the day already had sleep and power down modes, and it was already frivolous.

    Used to use screensaver and the GL pack, but can't be bothered these days.

  17. Ace2 Silver badge

    Two words: “Mime Hunt”

  18. Denial Vanish

    Bad Dog? What about Bad Dog?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This website might interest some members here:


  20. Brynstero0

    beats the truly awful "matrix" effect screensavers.

  21. Stephen Booth

    30 year old code

    I have my own 30 year old code which coincidentally is a Xscreensaver compatible X11 hack

    Unfortunately it does not seem to be in the standard Xscreensaver collection but I think some linux distros still carry it.

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