Having the same wallpaper for long periods of time can be boring. That’s why it’s great to mix it up with something new! Unfortunately, finding quality wallpaper is kind of a chore. That’s why if you want to spice up your Linux desktop with new wallpapers, you should consider using an automation tool that can do it for you. In this article, we’ll go over how to use the Variety wallpaper changing tool under Linux. It download wallpapers from the internet and automatically change the wallpaper, among other things. Additionally, we’ll go over a special KDE Plasma 5 solution for automatic wallpaper changes too!
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
Automatically Change The Wallpaper
Some desktop environments directly support the ability to automatically change the wallpaper at regular intervals throughout the day. However, this isn’t true of each and every desktop environment. To solve this problem, there are many different programs that users can download to automatically change the look of their desktop. The best tool to automatically change the wallpaper on Linux, in our view, is Variety. It’s a slick, easy to use GUI tool that (once installed) runs in the background as a service, and directly interacts with the Linux desktop, regardless of what environment it is.
In addition to this, it also has a lot of useful features, such as the ability to filter NSFW images out, allowing the use of both local and online image sources, and even allows users to apply various visual effects to the wallpapers it sets.
As of now, Variety has great support for most modern Linux distributions. Here’s how to install it on your operating system:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peterlevi/ppa
Then, update the software sources for Ubuntu.
sudo apt update
Lastly, install Variety.
sudo apt install variety variety-slideshow
sudo apt install variety
sudo apt-get install variety
sudo pacman -S variety
sudo dnf install variety
sudo zypper install variety
Can’t find the software in a binary package for your Linux distribution? Consider grabbing the source code from the developer’s Launchpad page instead and compiling it yourself. Alternatively, check pkgs.org to see if there is a download for your operating system.
Setting Up Variety
The Variety tool has many, many different settings and options. The best place to start is in the “General” tab. This is the core of the settings for the tool.
By default, Variety will change your wallpaper every 5 minutes. That’s a little insane. Click the slider next to “5 mins”, and select “Days” rather than minutes. Then input 1. From here, the app will change your wallpaper every day. If you don’t want to set it so that wallpaper changes every day, Variety supports changing based on minutes, hours and days, weeks.
Move the mouse down to “Images”, and scroll through the different options to select (there are a lot). Image sources that you can set images from include: favorite folder images, fetched (aka downloaded) images, recommended images, Bing photo of the day, and more.
Once you’ve selected the Image option settings you’d like, move to the “Effects” tab. This area allows users to apply different visual changes to the wallpapers. Under filters, select the ones you’d like (or leave it blank), and move down to “Quotes”.
Enable “Quotes” if you’d like to see quotes from famous/important people on your desktop. If not, move down to “Clock”. This setting allows users to print the time on the desktop.
When done, close the app. Your wallpaper will start to change automatically.
KDE Plasma Instructions
The variety tool is great, but it doesn’t work within the KDE desktop environment, due to the way KDE Plasma is built. KDE users looking to change their wallpaper automatically will need to replace Variety with another solution: the KDE Plasma desktop itself.
Go to the KDE desktop, and right click on an empty area. From the context menu select the “Configure Desktop” button. In this area, you’ll be able to apply wallpapers like normal. Additionally, there are settings to set up a slideshow, or “automatic wallpaper changer” much like the Variety tool, but with fewer features.
To do this, first, make a folder inside of ~/Pictures/ that will hold all of the pictures you wish to add to KDE.
mkdir -p ~/Pictures/kde-slideshow/
Move all of the picture files into ~/Pictures/kde-slideshow/ with the Dolphin file manager, then go back to the Wallpaper window. Select the slider next to wallpaper type, and select “Slideshow”.
Select the “+Add folder” button at the bottom, and navigate to the ~/Pictures/kde-slideshow/. Then, go to the “change every” section to modify exactly how long KDE Plasma 5 should wait before changing to a different wallpaper in the folder.
Keep in mind that the time measurement is done in hours, minutes and seconds. To set it for 1 day, enter “24” in the hour mark. For two, set it to “48”, and etc.
When you’re satisfied with the settings, click “Apply” and KDE will instantly start changing your wallpaper!