Is there a way to put an active website, such as Gmail, as your Desktop background in Gnome, running Ubuntu 10.10 64-bit? MS Win calls it "Active Desktop".
The easy way
(which installs a graphical program that does the job for you)
Wallch has this feature now implemented! You may download and install the PPA:
The hard way
(which installs only what is needed and requires a little bit of command line usage)
My answer will guide you through on how to have your desktop background updated on an interval of your choice of a website of your choice.
After a search on the source code of the program Shutter so as to see what trick does it do so as to capture a web site, I found an easier way to do it, so I've edited my answer.
The easiest way around is the following:
First, install a small package:
When the above command finishes running, then run the following inside your terminal:
Now, a folder under your ~/Documents folder named web_image has been created.
In this folder, place the following script, called update_background.sh:
In the above bash script, you may edit 4 parameters:
After saving the script, give it executable permissions (chmod +x update_background.sh or right click on it->properties->permissions->allow executing file as program) and run it through a terminal.
This is how it looks like at my desktop background, with the site askubuntu.com:
NOTE: Sites' first page can be very long, take for example askubuntu.com. This is apparently a problem, you can solve this problem with programs like imagemagick. You can edit/crop etc. the image before setting it as desktop background (before the gsettings command). You can crop the image like this:
The convert command is at the imagemagick package (
PS: You can set the update_background.sh script to start on login: Run simple bash script to start applications at login, but it would be nice to wait till you have internet connection. So, before the while loop in that script place this:
So, along with the above, if you set the script running at startup and you want to crop the image, then the update_background.sh should look like something like this:
Your best bet might be the screenlet project. The webframe screenlet does indeed allow you to embed your gmail, albeit, it's the mobile version by default. Perhaps you can find a way to change it. Screenshot below.
Screenlets can either sit on your desktop directly, or combined with the widget layer of Compiz, called up over existing windows, like the Mac handles its gadgets/widgets (whatever they're called - I've forgotten).
You'll have to visit the site to download the third party webframe screenlet. I've just tried it and the installer will complain that webframe isn't packaged correctly, but it installs perfectly nonetheless:
Might also be worth noting that I'm fairly sure that KDE bundles this kind of functionality out of the box with its "plasma" framework. Just a thought.
You can use
You can find
Conky is probably one option you should explore. I cannot give you exact instructions as its something I have never tried.
Conky is a system monitor that displays on your screen's desktop. It's also very modular. It can display the output of any command line program. You can view RSS feeds by using a the Conky RSS functions, or a separate program or script.
You can find instructions here. How to create an RSS feed using Conky
There is no way to do this with standard gnome. The wallpaper is a solid image and isn't doing anything special.
If you would like to see the feature, you can add your voice to the existing bug. But the developers for gnome have said that they think the desktop web page is a really bad idea and that really what's needed is better tools to get you to your email on the desktop.