Gnome Shell is a beautiful desktop environment that does a lot of good for the Linux community as a whole. Still, Gnome has some severe shortcomings. One of the biggest problems that it has is that the developers remove features and lock it down so that it’s hard to modify.
One of the most limited features on Gnome Shell is it’s wallpaper settings. Compared to other desktop environments on Linux, Gnome doesn’t offer as much in terms of options, such as displaying different wallpapers for different displays on Linux. Instead, setting different wallpapers on different displays within Linux requires HydraPaper. It’s an application for the Gnome desktop that makes it possible to set two wallpaper images independently, rather than going with Gnome Shell’s preference for using the same image.
If you’d like to get your hands on the HydraPaper application, there are a couple of methods: the Arch Linux AUR, and Flatpak. To install, open up a terminal window with Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T and follow the instructions below that correspond with the OS you use.
Arch Linux via AUR
The Arch Linux AUR has pretty much everything on it, so there’s no surprise that there’s a package build of HydraPaper available for installation. To get it going, start by using the Pacman package manager to install the Git and Base-devel packages. These two packages are essential, as without them it is impossible to interact with the AUR or compile apps from source.
sudo pacman -S git base-devel
Next, you must install the Trizen AUR helper app. Usually, it isn’t a great idea to rely on these helpers, as it takes away from learning how packages are built on Arch, but in this case, it’s much easier to get HydraPaper working on Arch, due to the massive amount of AUR dependencies you’d need to compile by hand.
To get the Trizen AUR helper, enter the commands below into a terminal.
git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git
With the Trizen application installed on your Arch PC, installing HydraPaper from the AUR is as easy as entering the command below.
trizen -S hydrapaper-git
Please note that installing HydraPaper from the Arch Linux AUR is not supported, since it is an unofficial package. If you are having issues with this version of the app, consider trying the Flatpak one instead!
Those not using Arch Linux can get HydraPaper through the Flatpak app store. The reason that the developers of this software choose to go with Flatpak as opposed to individual distribution packaging is that the Flatpak app system enables them to deliver the same software quickly to just about anyone.
If you need to get the Flatpak release of HydraPaper, start out by installing the app runtime. This is easily done by installing the “flatpak” package via your Linux PC’s package manager.
Note: need help setting up Flatpak on your Linux PC? We can help! Check out our detailed guide on how to set up and use the Flatpak runtime.
Once you’ve gotten Flatpak running, you must subscribe to the Flathub software app store. To do this, launch a terminal and enter the following command below.
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
With Flatpak subscribed to Flathub, install HydraPaper using flatpak install.
flatpak install flathub org.gabmus.hydrapaper
Set different wallpapers for different displays
To set a different wallpaper on each screen, open up the HydraPaper application on the Gnome desktop. After that, copy your wallpaper files to “/home/username/pictures/” using the Gnome file manager.
With the wallpaper files in the correct place, return to HydraPaper and click the “Wallpapers” button at the top of the app.
In HydraPaper, you’ll see your monitor layout at the top. It’ll list the label of each monitor, and you can select each one to modify the wallpaper. So, to set one wallpaper on Monitor one click “monitor 1″ in the app, then select the image you want. Then, repeat this process for monitor 2,” and so on.
When you’re satisfied with the wallpapers set for each monitor in HydraPaper, click the checkbox icon to apply the changes.
Set random wallpapers
The HydraPaper application has the ability to set random wallpapers, if you like that kind of thing on your Gnome setup. To do it, fill up your “/home/username/Pictures/” folder with as many images as you’d like. Then, open up the app.
Once HydraPaper is open, click on wallpapers for the monitor to use at the start. This should ensure that it has a base to start from. Then, select the gear icon to reveal the app’s option area.
In the option area, find the “Set random wallpapers” option and select it to enable it. Soon after, each monitor will independently switch to different wallpaper images in your collection.