Friday, September 16, 2005

Substrate screensaver

Normally screensavers are disabled the instant I set up a new system and my recent upgrade to Slackware 10.2 was no exception. However, I was looking through the list for a screensaver to test my 3D acceleration to see if my NVidia drivers were working and came across Substrate.

This is a wonderful little screensaver that I find quite beautiful, some say it looks like the evolution of a city from above, others like cracks in a white rock, still others, like a Picasso in progress.

Substrate example images

Either way, it's impressive results from a simple mathematical algorithm. Pity that I can't get a Windows version for my girlfriend as every time the screensaver activates on my machine, she sits and watches it grow.

Edit: I got in contact with the author of a port of XScreensaver, after many, many attempts at trying to find a suitable Win32 version or a version that would compile cleanly under Cygwin or similar environment, and he happened to have a Windows binary of this screensaver just hanging about. So thanks Darren Stone for your help! The version of WinXScreenSaver on his software page didn't have it when I tried but he pointed me to a version of just that screensaver that he had compiled some time ago:

(As of late-February 2008, the above website appears to be down. For now, there is a mirror of this file here:


Anonymous said...

This doesn't work for me in XP. And I'd really like this one since they have now removed it from ubuntu linux. Is there a trick other than putting it in the system32 folder?
It says it can't find VCL50.BPL. Any ideas? Thanks.

Ledow said...

Well... all I can say is that the computer I installed it on probably has every DLL and runtime file known to man already, so I didn't notice this.

The best way to resolve it would be to just google the filename and download it. It's just the Delphi runtime (which is odd because I didn't think the Substrate screensaver had been compiled in Delphi?), it's available on hundreds of websites (like this one for free.

Unzip and put the necessary file into your system32 dir and run the screensaver again. You'll probably find that it will complain about some other file... follow the same pattern until you have all the files necessary to run it. If you can find out exactly what files you need, I'll post a list here and incorporate them into a download on this site.

Jonathan said...

I've just done a Windows port of the Substrate Screensaver--it's the same algorithm. It's nothing special but has a couple of options. It's available at my website:

It works on all the Windows XP machines I've tried it on. Enjoy!

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

The link to the ZIP is no longer good. Any chance you can provide a link to a good copy?

Ledow said...

As mentioned above, someone's gone to the effort of porting it natively to Windows... Thanks johnathon.

On the other hand, I hate to lose links so OF COURSE I have a backup. I'll post it and change the link as soon as I remember.

It appears, though, that the website is "there" but just not responding so it may come back up itself in due course.

Ledow said...

I have now added the link to a mirror of the file into the main article.

lurking-grue said...

I know this post is old, but might you have the complete WinXScreensaver1.1-Install.msi package, from the dead site?

Ledow said...

lurking-grue: I don't have one to hand but I have several machines in different places that I work at, so it *might* be on one of those. I know at one point I was going to use WinXScreensaver to do something fancy in work but I never got around to it. I also don't remember using it so it may have got pruned at some point.

I had a look on several places and looked promising for a while as it has historical copies of the website in question but the links for that particular file always gave me errors about technical problems (which you don't normally get when they just haven't mirrored a file). I don't know if they are having technical problems or whether they just don't mirror .msi's at all, though.

I'll have a look around but I can't promise anything.

Daniel Kirkdorffer said...

I found a very good port of Substrate at a German site at

Ledow said...

At least two people will be pleased to know that I do in fact have a copy of WinXScreensaver1.1-Install.msi!

Fortunately, I always copy and store everything I think may come in handy one day and it seems to have paid off yet again.

I've posted a new article about it here: