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Why is the default background image still named /usr/share/backgrounds/warty-final-ubuntu.png?

It's not Warty,

Warty Maverick

and it's not even a PNG:

$ file /usr/share/backgrounds/warty-final-ubuntu.png
/usr/share/backgrounds/warty-final-ubuntu.png: JPEG image data, JFIF standard 1.02
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up vote 13 down vote accepted

Because that's how their first default wallpaper's filename was. They wanted to make sure that whoever wants to stick with the distro's default wallpaper would get updated to the most recent version.

Since the wallpaper setting is stored in a per-user setting in gconf, it's not possible to assign new wallpapers to users on upgrade, as they (rightly so) don't want to override users' wallpaper settings.

Hence, the only way is to leave the filename alone and change the file the settings point to.

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Yup. There's an open bug report about this. I don't understand why anyone really cares.… – andrewsomething Oct 11 '10 at 15:17
I think the reason people care is that the old one gets overwritten. It would've been more sensible to start with a default-wallpaper.png symlink pointing to the current release's wallpaper so that the old wallpapers don't get lost. – maco Oct 11 '10 at 16:30
Also, try double-clicking it to view it in Image Viewer. The incorrect filename extension causes problems. – ændrük Oct 11 '10 at 16:39

Another reason people may care is that for some scenarios, you'd like to change the default wallpaper using command line tools only. It's just very unintuitive to find that you have to

mv $MYBGIMG warty-final-ubuntu.png

instead of using something like default-wallpaper (without extension, while we're at it).

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