Shared screen locking solution for live distributions in Debian

Ed Dixon eddixonnm at
Wed Dec 31 09:37:56 EST 2014

I have been using the xtrlock package which allows the screen to still be
viewed while locked to good effect in classroom situations. It takes the
current users password by default. I may be missing something here but as
far as I am aware all current Debian screen locking mechanisms fill this
need, if installed. I personally would not want a second set of credentials
adding a potential vector attached to the user account just to have a
separate password for the screen lock. Can you explain more the need for
On Wed Dec 31 2014 at 7:27:13 AM sajolida <sajolida at> wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm part of the people working on Tails, a live distribution that aims
> at preserving privacy and anonymity: Tails is
> currently lacking a screen locker and this has been a frequent feature
> request. See
> For example, as Tails is been adopted more and more by journalists,
> they want to be able to leave their computer unattended in their
> office to go to the toilets for a minute and have their screen locked.
> I'm writing this emails to various Live distributions based on Debian
> (Knoppix, Grml, Jondo, Kali, Debian Live, and Tanglu). I'm also
> putting Micah Lee in copy as he has shown particular interest in this
> feature.
> I've been investigating the screen locking mechanism of those various
> Debian based live distributions, and I found out that none of them had
> a real mechanism to do so. They either:
>   - Do not provide any screen locking mechanism (Knoppix, Grml,
>     Jondo Live).
>   - Either rely on their default password to unlock the screen (Kali,
>     Tanglu, Debian Live).
> The purpose of this email is to know whether you would be interested
> in working on a common Debian package to provide a generic screen
> locking solution for Debian based live distributions.
> The core usability issue that we are facing here is the one of the
> unlocking password. As we are live distributions, there either is no
> password or a default one. Still, screen locking only make sense if
> the user is able to use a custom password. As an interesting exception,
> note that in Jondo Live, the user is prompted for a user password on
> boot. In Tails the user can set up an administration password but this
> is disabled by default for security reasons so we cannot rely on this
> for screen locking.
> During our last monthly meeting we came up with the idea of asking for
> a custom password *in the process of locking the screen* for the first
> time. For example, in GNOME, when doing Meta+L for the first time, the
> user would be prompted to enter a screen locking password, then only
> the screen would get locked. If she locks the screen again, the same
> password would be reused.
> What do you think? Please answer to tails-dev at and feel free to
> subscribe to the list to follow the thread:
> --
> sajolida
> --
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