What are the criteria for a user background to become login background on user selection?

I'm using 12.04 (beta) having jumped from 10.04, so I don't know whether it's the same with 11.10.

Basically there are 2 users set up on my machine. I've assigned custom background pics for both users. On the login screen when you select one user for login, the whole background changes to the background for that user. However select the other user to log in and the background remains the default Ubuntu splash until you actually log in.

I don't recall setting anything differently when I assigned the backgrounds, so I'm a little confused!

Is there something obvious I've missed? Or more to the point, set by accident then forgotten?!


The image file for the wallpaper must have its permissions set to be world readable. Note however, that only the image file is used on the login screen. It does not use the background colors, gradients, transparency, or scaling mode settings which the user has chosen. Also, I don't think animated or automatically updated wallpapers (such as the "Slideshow" wallpaper selection) work for this.

To make the wallpaper world readable If you go to the file in the file manager, and open its properties, there is a permissions tab. The setting for "Others" in there must be set to at least "Read", and not "None."

enter image description here

The default set of wallpapers in Ubuntu, which is installed in /usr/share/backgrounds are all of course readable by everyone; as are the wallpapers in the gnome-backgrounds package. Custom images in the user's home directory shouldn't be, in general.

  • 1
    Parent directories above the image file should also be readable by others. When I had had my wallpaper directory readable but my home directory unreadable, it didn't work. So I had to change my home to be readable by others. If there's a workaround so that only my wallpaper directory should by available to others, that would be awesome. – kelvinilla Apr 29 '12 at 5:00

kelvin.illa is right:

Parent directories above the image file should also be readable by others

I had to make up to my home directory readable by others so that the login background would change.

chmod -R 755 /home/your_home_directory

This will give read and execute permissions to the group and others.

  • This will give read permission for everything in your home directory. Not needed and in particular probably not wanted. It should be perfectly sufficient to set o+x on all parent directories. The execution flag allows cding into the dir without giving permission to actually list directory contents or read files. – Nephente Oct 6 '15 at 7:43

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