Oct 162010

background changerIn Linux, setting an image as the desktop wallpaper is not a difficult task, but getting it to change automatically at a certain interval is.

If you have a good collection of wallpapers and want to see them in action on your desktop, there are some nice wallpaper changer software, i’ll try to give you an overview of some of them:

Desktop Drapes, Webilder, wallpaper-tray, desktopnova, wally

desktop drapes

Desktop Drapes

Desktop drapes is a wallpaper manager application for the gnome desktop. It can randomly changing your wallpaper every once in a while, or whenever you fell like it.

It can also automaticaly pickup any wallpapers you added to a directory with the ninja magic of inotify. It’s written using C# (mono) with the help of Gtk#/Gnome#.


On my xubuntu 10.10 a sudo aptitude install drapes

has installed it without any problem.

Once installed, you can start Desktop Drapes via (gnome) System

->Preferences->Desktop Drapes, or (XFCE) Applications ->Settings->Desktop Drapes . There won’t be any popup window or configuration menu. Instead you will find a new icon on the right of the top panel. Simply click on it to change your current wallpaper.


To configure Desktop Drapes, right-click on the icon and select Preferences. You won’t see a window with many options. On the main screen, you will see your current wallpaper. To add extra wallpapers from other folders, click “Add”.


On the General tab, you can choose whether you want Desktop Drapes to start and switch wallpaper when login. You can also set the timing to auto switch the wallpaper at regular interval.

And as last option you can select a directory to monitor for new file, any file put there will be automatically added to the list of possible wallpaper.



Pros: Easy to install, easy to use and configure.

Cons: Software has not been updated since 2008, using Mono.



Webilder delivers stunning wallpapers to your Linux desktop, directly from Flickr and Webshots. You choose what keywords (tags) to watch for, and photos are automatically downloaded to your computer. Webilder can also change the wallpaper every few minutes.


  • downloads the most interesting photos from Flickr.
  • view Webshots photos on your Linux desktop (requires Webshots account).
  • downloads Flickr photos that match tags (for example: beach,party)
  • downloads photos from Flickr users of your choice.
  • automatically downloads new photos for you every day.
  • change your wallpaper every few minutes.
  • import webshots collections (wbz or wbc formats).


NOTE: Webilder does not work with KDE 4.

For Ubuntu 10.04 and 10.10

sudo vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Add the following lines

deb http://mirrors.dotsrc.org/getdeb/ubuntu lucid-getdeb apps

deb-src http://mirrors.dotsrc.org/getdeb/ubuntu lucid-getdeb apps

Save and exit the file

Add GPG Key

gpg --keyserver subkeys.pgp.net --recv A8A515F046D7E7CF

gpg --export --armor A8A515F046D7E7CF | sudo apt-key add -

update source list

apt-get update

Install the following packages

sudo apt-get install webilder webilder-gnome

For Gentoo and other distributions check the page: http://www.webilder.org/download.html


Once installed you can run webilder with webilder_desktop or webilder_applet commands, once launched you’ ll be presented with the main webilder windows where you can select  tools -> preferences


On this screen you can select how often to rotate the image’s background and how often to download new photos.

In the flickr Tab  you can add users from which you want to download pictures and decide whether or not to download photos of interest.

On the Advanced Tab you can select which desktop manager are you using: kde, gnome, XFCE or set a custom command to change your background.

For more info check also: http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/columns/pimp_your_desktop_automate_desktop_wallpaper_webilder


Pros: perfect if you have flickr or webshot account, tag management, software updated

Cons: Don’t work with kde 4,  maybe overkill if you just have local photo

Wallpaper Tray

Wallpaper Tray is a wallpaper utility that sits on the GNOME panel. It gives you a random wallpaper from a chosen directory at logon, on a timer, and allows you to select a new wallpaper at random from its menu.


Walpaper tray was dropped in ubuntu 10.04, but if you want to test it, you can download it from ubuntu forum:http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1497421

This is a good video on his configuration:


Pros: Really easy
Cons: old package: 2007, dropped by Ubuntu.



This application brings a little variety onto your desktop! It changes your desktop wallpaper automatically after a preset period of time. At the moment it works with a Gnome and Xfce based system. DesktopNova is composed in 2 programs DesktopNova (the real applciation) and DesktopNova-Tray (that start it in the notification area)


The package is present in ubuntu repository so is enough to do a aptitude install desktopnova


Once launched the program start with the following configuration window:
In theTab Images you can add an image or select an entire folder (including subfolders).
Under the tab Settings you can select the time interval (in minutes) to change the image, whether to change the background every time you start and whether to run each session. There are also two buttons to start and stop DesktopNova daemon.
In the Tab Tray icon tick the “Launch the tray-icon every session (Autorun)” if you want the icon to appear in the notification area when the session start.
Clicking the right mouse button on DesktopNova icon in the notification area will appear a menu where you can open the preferences and change the background.


Pros: perfect if you have local photos, software updated, easy to use.
Cons: Don’t work with kde, don’t work with online image


Wally is a Qt4 wallpaper / background changer, using multiple sources like files, folders, FTP remote folders, Flickr, Yahoo!, Panoramio, Pikeo, Ipernity, Photobucket, Buzznet, Picasa, Smugmug, Bing, Google, Vladstudio and deviantART images.


Wally is a software for KDE, and is present in Ubuntu and many other distributions, you can then install it using the package manager of your distribution.


having an XFCE desktop manager i’ve not installed all the software to make wally work, but you can check this good guide: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/wally-an-incredible-cross-platform-wallpaper-rotation-app/


pros:  Support for local and online image, the most complete software for wallpaper change, software updated
cons: Available only for KDE

We might host these videos on our server in the future but we might need to get a dedicated server to do that.

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  8 Responses to “Wallpaper changer for Linux”

  1. Great post.. thanks for all your effort showing these apps.



  2. Nice post, but for KDE 4 there is already wallpaper change functionality implemented, so there is only an application needed, if you use pictures from the internet.

  3. As Won states, KDE has wallpaper changing built-in. Just go into Desktop Settings, then Wallpaper, and change Type to Slideshow. Besides the usual image type wallpapers, we also have Globe, Mandelbrot, Virus, and Weather plugins.

    Not that that helps you on XFCE 🙂

    • Thanks to john and W for the follow up, as told i’m not a KDE user and i was not aware of the built in feature.
      All i can say is that Wally video was really impressive, perhaps someday i’ll do a post about the KDE applications i’m missing in XFCE 😉

  4. […] saw this one over Linuxaria and thought this is something a lot of people should use. So i went ahead and tested all the […]

  5. Gnome (at least with Ubuntu) also has a method for wallpaper changing built-in. I’ve not used it myself because it is a bit impractical for large collections of wallpapers. The settings for it are defined in an XML file if memory serves. If you search google for “ubuntu wallpaper slideshow” you can find instructions and even a python script to make the process easier.

  6. For all those who prefer a simple command-line interface, you can use x-wallpaper-changer which I developed after finding out that (as far as I know) no other wallpaper changer supported Lubuntu out of the box.

    Mine supports almost every configuration 😉

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