I really, really want to use http://www.reddit.com/r/cinemagraphs

I've done a lot of research on this, but the answers seem to vary greatly and I haven't had much success with any of the other suggestions, and I can't find any answers on xubuntu 12.10, only earlier versions of xubuntu (not many), but mostly just ubuntu.

I feel these gifs would be perfect for a background (though they are a bit low-res, good enough for now)

Also, I do run dual monitors, so if something can be tailored to that fact (but def not required, any info will do), I'd be most appreciative.

  • 1
    Adding what you have tried would help people not telling what you have already done. – Uri Herrera Feb 4 '13 at 21:43

(I don't know whether you have tried the following suggestions, as you haven't responded to the comment, but I thought I would mention the following ways, which are about the only options available.)

General Introduction

Without using compiz or some special compositor plugin, what you can do on Xubuntu is use xwinwrap; even though the program hasn't been updated officially for a while, there is an improved version available here with many comments posted by users.

However, you may want to use the excellent gwinwrap, which is a front-end to xwinwrap. You must install it by following the instructions from the official site; it is, however, very quick and easy. You also need mplayer and xscreensaver installed in addition to xwinwrap. Even though the documentation keeps mentioning screensavers, it does work for the desktop as well, as this useful youtube video demonstrates, and this is one way to make a desktop 'active'.

So, you could either use xwinwrap as it is and follow the tutorial here so that you can display your gif, or it may be easier to use gwinwrap. You could simply convert your gif to a video file and select it in gwinwrap and it would loop as the desktop background. Other options such as the size of the video could be passed to mplayer in the gwinwrap options.

If you run gwinwrap from terminal and select various settings and then apply them, you can see the xwinwrap command lines being used. As an example, gwinwrap executes an xwinwrap command (in conjunction with mplayer) such as this:

nice -n 15 xwinwrap -s -st -sp -b -ni -fs -nf -ov -o 1.000000 -- mplayer /home/mike/jazz.mp4 -quiet -noconsolecontrols -loop 0 -wid WID 

(To kill any xwinwrap actions which have gone awry, open a terminal and run killall xwinwrap.)

Specific instructions

1) Choose your animated gif from your collections and convert it to a video format such as mp4 or avi; you can do this directly with ffmpeg, as noted in the suggestions from this superuser question. If the quality isn't what you expected, try the other alternatives.

2) Start gwinwrap, click 'new' on the first screen, and then on the second, add your video of your converted gif, specify any settings and click apply (see screenshot below).

Note: you usually have to have window compositing enabled in XFCE settings > window manager tweaks. As noted in some of the comments for xwinwrap, sometimes the video may overlay other windows depending on your graphics card. It should not happen, however, and using xwinwrap/gwinwrap is about the best way to achieve what you want.

enter image description here

  • I tried the method you mentioned, but i'm not able to get it to work: executing gwinwrapper.py does nothing. – Glitched May 20 '15 at 17:12

xwinwrap seems like the way to go as this answer explains.

However, I couldn't get it working, so created something similar. It's basic, but does the job, you can find it here on GitHub.


Download a release from here, then extract/unzip, enter the directory, and run

make install


  • To set a gif in the center of the screen

    giphytool -c /path/to/animation.gif
  • For full usage guidance

    giphytool --help
  • Holy cow, I've just recently come back to this question again and found this post (I also couldn't get xwinwrap to work, either). So my question is - what OSes does this work for? Any(most) debian systems? I ask because sometimes this wallpaper crap is very specific to certain distros - is this the case here? I'm on a windows machine right now, I will test this asap later today. – MALON Aug 15 '17 at 15:20
  • It should work on most Linux distributions i think, it just requires GTK-3. But I've only tested this on Xubuntu 16.04 so far. I'll test this on a few others soon. – Cey Aug 16 '17 at 10:47
  • @Cey 3 years later (on Ubuntu 18.04) it doesn't work. If you are still maintaining it, let me know and I'll open an issue. – Ælex Nov 14 '19 at 14:49
  • @Ælex sure, open an issue and i'll take a look at it – Cey Nov 14 '19 at 17:34

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