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I have a script that updates my desktop background every day with the NASA APOD. Since upgrading to 11.10, that script stopped working, presumably because I'm using gconftool-2 to actually update the desktop background. Is there a new way to do this under Unity?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 39 down vote accepted

Both Unity and Gnome Shell (Gnome 3) use GSettings now instead of GConf. So in Unity and Gnome Shell you can use the command-line tool gsettings for that. Like gconftool, it lets you get or set an individual key.

You can get the current URI of the background image as follows:

gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri

And set the background URI as follows (which will immediately update your desktop background):

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri file:///home/serrano/Pictures/y.jpg

Notice that you must prepend the URI with "file://" for this to work (unlike with gconftool).

In order to make your script work with both Gnome 2 and Shell/Unity, you can let it do a Gnome version check first:

gnome-session --version

That will return the version of Gnome. If the version number starts with 3, then gsettings can be used. If it returns a version starting with 2, let your script use gconftool instead.

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I used this command in Ubuntu 12.04 and system is crashed –  YumYumYum Sep 5 '13 at 14:26
@YumYumYum: It's highly unusual that the above commands will crash your system, unless there's something else going on in your system. –  Serrano Pereira Sep 5 '13 at 17:22
You can add Cinnamon to the list of Desktop Environment using gsettings ;) –  MrVaykadji Jan 7 '14 at 18:36
Notice that you must prepend the URI with "file://" for this to work (unlike with gconftool). <-- This is important! I didn't find this mentioned explicitly anywhere else. –  Tom Mar 30 '14 at 19:52
This is fine for the current user logged in. I'd like to know how to programatically change wallpaper of another user! I did try sudo --user=<username> gsettings ... but that failed. –  kaiwan May 10 '14 at 7:57

This code randomly changes the wallpaper from a given directory.


PIC=$(ls $DIR/* | shuf -n1)
gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri "file://$PIC"

Save this script and edit your with the command "crontab -e" (it launches an editor where you put this line at the end of the file):

*/1     *     *     *     *         /bin/bash /path/to/script.sh
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