xsnow - Man Page

Snow and Santa on your desktop


xsnow [OPTION]...


Xsnow shows an animation of Santa and snow on your desktop. Xsnow can also run in one or more windows, see options -xwininfo, -id . (These options only work satisfactorily in an X11 environment.) Xsnow depends on an X11 environment. This is forced by setting the environment variable GDK_BACKEND=x11 before initializing the GTK. Hopefully, this will ensure that xsnow also runs in a Wayland environment for some time.

If xsnow is misbehaving, try to remove the file $HOME/.xsnowrc.

General options

<n> denotes an unsigned decimal (e.g 123) or octal (e.g. 017) or hex (e.g. 0x50009) number.
<c> denotes a string like "red" or "#123456".
<f> denotes a file name, like "/home/rick/Pictures/background.jpg".

-h,  -help

print this text.

-H,  -manpage

print man page.

-v,  -version

prints version of xsnow.


prints ChangeLog.

-display <c>

Drop the snowflakes on the given display. Make sure the display is nearby, so you can hear them enjoy...

-screen <n>

If you have multiple monitors: snow in monitor n.
-1: use all monitors (default: -1)
Note: for this to work, Xinerama has to be functional.

-outline <n>

1: draw outline around snow window. 0: no outline.
Default: 0.


Run xsnow in vintage settings.


Do not read config file (see Files).


Do not read or write config file (see Files).


Start with hidden interactive menu.


Do not show interactive menu.

-lang <c>

Set language, example: -lang it, see Languages below. Default: sys.

-scale <n>

Apply scalefactor (default: 100).

-doublebuffer <n>

1: use double buffering; 0: do not use double buffering (default: 1). Only effective with '-root' or '-id' or '-xwininfo'.

-transparency <n>

Transparency in % (default: 0)

-theme <n>

1: use xsnow theme for menu; 0: use system theme (default: 1)

-checkgtk <n>

0: Do not check gtk version before starting the user interface. 1: Check gtk version before starting the user interface. (default: 1).

-id <n>, -window-id <n>

Snow in window with id (for example from xwininfo).

--window-id <n>

see -id.


Act as if window is a desktop.

-allworkspaces <n>

0: use one desktop for snow, 1: use all desktops (default: 1).


Snow above your windows. Default is to snow below your windows. NOTE: in some environments this results in an un-clickable desktop.


Use a cursor to point at the window you want the snow to be fallen in.

-stopafter <n>

Stop xsnow after so many seconds.

-root,  --root

Force to paint on (virtual) root window.
Use this for xscreensaver:
Make sure xscreensaver is running, either as a start-up application
or from the command line, e.g:
  nohup xscreensaver &
   nohup xscreensaver -no-capture-stderr &
Run the program xscreensaver-demo to create the file ~/.xscreensaver
In the file ~.xscreensaver add after the line 'programs:' this line:
   xsnow -root
Use the program xscreensaver-demo to select xsnow as screensaver.
You probably want to select: Mode: Only One Screen Saver.

-bg <f>    

file to be used as background when running under xscreensaver.


Write extra info about some mouse clicks, X errors etc, to stdout.

-cpuload <n>

How busy is your system with xsnow: the higher, the more load on the system (default: 100).

Snow options

-snowflakes <n>

The higher, the more snowflakes are generated per second. Default: 100.


(Default) Animate blow-off snow.


Do not animate blowing snow from trees or windows

-sc <c>  

Use the given string as color for the flakes (default: #fffafa).

-sc2 <c>

Use the given string as second color for the flakes (default: #87ceff).

-enablesc2 <n>

1: enable usage of second color for the flakes (default: 0).

-snowspeedfactor <n>

Multiply the speed of snow with this number/100 (default: 100).

-snowsize <n>

Set size of (non-vintage) snow flakes (default: 8).


(Default) Show snow.

-nosnow -nosnowflakes

Do not show snow.

-flakecountmax <n>

Maximum number of active flakes (default: 300).

-blowofffactor <n>

The higher, the more snow is generated in blow-off scenarios (default: 40).

Tree options

-treetype <n>[,<n> ...]

Choose tree types: minimum 0, maximum 8 (default: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,). Thanks to Carla Vermin for numbers >=3! Credits: Image by b0red on Pixabay.

-treetype all

(Default) Use all non-vintage available tree types.

-tc <c>

Use the given string as the color for the vintage tree (default: #7fff00). Works only for treetype 0.


Do not display the trees.


(Default) Display the trees.

-trees <n>

Desired number of trees. Default 10.

-treefill <n>

Region in percents of the height of the window where trees grow (default: 30).

-treescale <n>

Scale scenery (default: 100).


Allow scenery items to overlap each other (default).


Do not allow scenery items to overlap each other.

Santa options


(Default) Display Santa running all over the screen.


Do not display Santa running all over the screen.


(Default) With Rudolph.


No Rudolph.

-santa <n>

The minimum size of Santa is 0, the maximum size is 4. Default is 3. Thanks to Thomas Linder for the (big) Santa 2! Santa 3 is derived from Santa 2, and shows the required eight reindeer. The appearance of Santa 4 may be a surprise, thanks to Carla Vermin for this one.

-santaspeedfactor <n>

The speed Santa should not be excessive if he doesn't want to get fined. The appropriate speed for the Santa chosen will be multiplied by santaspeedfactor/100 (default: 100).

-santascale <n>

The scale to be used when drawing Santa (default: 100).

Celestial options


(Default) It will get windy now and then.


By default it gets windy now and then. If you prefer quiet weather specify -nowind.

-whirlfactor <n>

This sets the whirl factor, i.e. the maximum adjustment of the horizontal speed. The default value is 100.

-windtimer <n>

With -windtimer you can specify how often it gets  windy. It's sort of a period in seconds, default value is 30.

-stars <n>

The number of stars (default: 20).


(Default) Show meteors.


Do not show meteors.


Frequency of falling of meteors, 0..100 (default: 40).

-moon <n>

1: show moon, 0: do not show moon (default: 1).
Picture of moon thanks to  Pedro Lasta on Unsplash.

-moonspeed <n>

Speed of moon in pixels/minute (default: 120).

-moonsize <n>

Relative size of moon (default: 100).

-mooncolor <n>

Color of moon 0: yellow-ish; 1: white-ish (default: 0).

-halo <n>

1: show halo around moon, 0: do not show halo (default: 1).

-halobrightness <n>

Brightness of halo (default: 25).

-aurora <n>

To show (1) or not to show(0) aurora (default: 1).
 On most desktops aurora works, but not on all. Try!


Place aurora in top left of screen.


Place aurora in top middle of screen.


Place aurora in top right of screen (default).

-aurorawidth <n>

Width of aurora in percentage of screen width (default: 60).

-aurorabase <n>

Height of aurora's base line in percentage of screen height (default: 50).

-auroraheight <n>

Height of aurora (default: 30).

-auroraspeed <n>

Animation speed of aurora (default: 50).
  10: about real value, 100: timelapse.

-aurorabrightness <n>

Brightness of aurora (default: 15).

Fallen snow options

-wsnowdepth <n>

Maximum thickness of snow on top of windows (default: 30).

-ssnowdepth <n>

Maximum thickness of snow at the bottom of the screen (default: 50).

-maxontrees <n>

Maximum number of flakes on trees. Default 200.


(Default) Keep snow on top of the windows.


Do not keep snow on top of the windows.


(Default) Keep snow at the bottom of the screen.


Do not keep snow at the bottom of the screen.


(Default) Keep snow on trees.


Do not keep snow on trees.


(Default) Have snow sticking anywhere.


Do not have snow sticking anywhere.


(Default) Create fluff on fallen snow.


Do not create fluff on fallen snow.

-offsetx <n>

Correction for window-manager provided x-coordinate of window. Default 4.

-offsety <n>

Correction for window-manager provided  y-coordinate of window. Default 0.

-offsetw <n>

Correction for window-manager provided width of window. Default -8.

-offsets <n>

Correction for bottom coordinate of your screen. A negative value lifts the xsnow screen up. Default 0.

-ignoretop <n>

Do not collect snow on window > 0.8*width of screen and closer than <n> pixels from the top. Sometimes an hidden window is sitting there, but treated as a normal window by xsnow. Default 0.

-ignorebottom <n>

Analog to -ignoretop, but now for the bottom. Default 0.

Birds options

-anarchy <n>

Anarchy factor ( 0..100 default: 50).

-birdscolor <c>  

Use the given string as color for the birds (default: #361A07).

-birdsonly <n>

Show only birds ( 0/1 default: 0).

-birdsspeed <n>

Speed of birds ( 0..300 default: 100).

-disweight <n>

Eagerness to keep desired distance ( 0..100 default: 20).

-focuscentre <n>

Eagerness to fly to the focus ( 0..300 default: 100).

-followneighbours <n>

Eagerness to follow neighbours ( 0..100 default: 30).

-nbirds <n>

Number of birds ( 0..400 default: 70).

-neighbours <n>

Number of neighbours to watch ( 0..20 default: 7).

-prefdistance <n>

Preferred distance to neighbours ( 0..100 default: 40).

-showbirds <n>

Show birds ( 0/1 default: 1).

-showattr <n>

Show attraction point ( 0/1 default: 0).

-attrspace <n>

Vertical space to be used by the attraction point (default: 40).

-followsanta <n>

Birds like Santa ( 0/1 default: 0).

-viewingdistance <n>

Viewing distance ( 0..95 default: 40).

-birdsscale <n>

Scalefactor used painting the birds (default: 100).


Xsnow comes with some translations to non-english languages.
The translations are done with the aid of  translate.google.com (implemented in package 'trans'), so there will be room for improvement. Any suggestions are welcome: contact@ratrabbit.nl .



Settings are read from and written to this file. See flags -noconfig and -defaults how to influence this behaviour.
   NOTE: the following settings are not read or written:
         -above  -defaults  -desktop  -fullscreen -noconfig -id
         -nomenu -stopafter -xwininfo -display    -noisy    -checkgtk


If present, xsnow will try this file for displaying the trees. The format must be xpm (X PixMap) format, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_PixMap .


where <n> = 1,2,3,4. If present, xsnow will try this files (4 of them) for displaying Santa. The format must be xpm (X PixMap) format, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_PixMap .
   NOTE: To show: activate the first Santa in the menu.


   $ xsnow -defaults        # run with defaults.
   $ xsnow                  # run using values from the config file.
   $ xsnow -treetype 1,2    # use tree types 1 and 2.

Window Manager Issues

In general, xsnow works better when using a compositing window manager like xcompmgr, compton or picom. However, with some window managers (FVWM for example), the xsnow-window is transparent, but not click-through. Flags to be tried in this case include: -root, -doublebuffer, -xwininfo, -id.
Here follow some window managers with their issues:

Tiling window managers

Here you need to float windows with class=Xsnow.


Without compositor: no issues.
With compositor: no click-through xsnow window, and issues with multi-monitor setup.


No issues if you add to your bspwmrc (the bspwm configuration file):
   bspc rule -a Xsnow state=floating border=off


No issues.


No issues, except the "Below Windows" setting in the "settings" panel.


With one monitor: no issuses.
With more montors: probems with showing in 'all monitors'


Without compositor: no issues.
With compositor: no click-through xsnow window


Without compositor: no issues.
With compositor: no click-through xsnow window

GNOME on Xorg

No issues.

GNOME on Wayland

Most windows don't catch snow.


No issues.


Without compositor: windows don't catch snow, use the next line in "config":
   for_window [class="Xsnow"] floating enable;border none
With compositor: unworkable.


No issues.


With compositor: no issues.
Without compositor: works with one monitor.
Maybe you need to run with the flag -xwininfo


Without compositor: unworkable. With compositor: no issues.


No issues.


No issues.


No issues.


Various issues. In any case you need in spectrwm.conf:
   quirk[Xsnow] = FLOAT


Without compositor: no issues.
With compositor: no click-through xsnow window and
you need to tweak settings->lift snow on windows.


Without compositor: no issues. With compositor: no click-through xsnow window


No issues when compositing is on, unworkable when compositing is off.
See settings -> Window Manager Tweaks -> Compositor


No issues if you add to your xmonad.hs:
import XMonad.Hooks.EwmhDesktops
xmonad $ ewmh $ defaultConfig
in the ManageHook section:
   className = ? "Xsnow" --> doFloat


- Xsnow needs a complete rewrite: the code is a mess.
- The flags are not consistent, caused by trying to be
   compatible with older versions.
- Xsnow stresses the Xserver too much.
- Xsnow does run in Wayland, but will not snow on all windows.
- Xsnow tries to create a click-through window. This is not successful
 in for example FVWM/xcompmgr. In that case, xsnow tries to keep
 the snow window below all others, resulting in a transient effect
 when you click on the desktop. Sadly, no FVWM menu will appear...
- Remnants of fluffy snow can persist after removing the
   fallen snow. These will gradually disappear, so no big deal.
- Remnants of meteors can persist after passage of Santa.
   These will eventually be wiped out by snow or Santa.
- Xsnow tries to adapt its snowing window if the display
   settings are changed while xsnow is running.
   This does not function always well.
- Xsnow does not play well with 'xcompmgr -a'. In some environments
   (Raspberry 64 bit) xcompmgr is started with the flag '-a',
   resulting in a black snow window. Remedy:
   In a terminal window type:
     killall xcompmgr
     nohup xcompmgr -n &
   and try again.
- In XFCE, compositing must be enabled for xsnow.
   Settings -> Window Manager Tweaks -> Compositor -> Enable display compositing
- In multi-screen environments, it depends on the display settings
   if it is snowing on all screens. Experiment!

Please report your comments via:
  https://ratrabbit.nl/ratrabbit/contact .




2024 xsnow-3.7.9