When I'm running Unity, I can set the background image with the following command: gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri "file://$file". This also changes the background of the lightDM login screen when my user is selected.

However, I use Fluxbox most of the time. I have a script that randomly changes my background, and does so with the following commands:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri "file://$file"
fbsetbg -a "$file"

The gsettings line does nothing in Fluxbox, but I assumed it would set the lightDM background. Unfortunately, it does not.

It seems that perhaps gnome-session needs to be running so that command works? If so, is there a fake gnome-session I can run that will accomplish setting the background, without a bunch of unnecessary processes running in the background?

Or is there another command I can run that will change the lightDM background (without root privileges) when I change my desktop background?

By the way, I'm running 12.10, but will upgrade to 13.04 in a couple weeks.

1 Answer 1



sudo pstree

Do it twice:

(1) when running LightDM as display manager and (Compiz?) as the compositing window manager for Unity

(2) when running ABC as display manager and Fluxbox as the window manager.

I think in the second case, there is no gnome-session process started, so gsettings will not work.

( I didn't test.)

  • Yes, Unity does launch gnome-session. That probably is the issue. But if I try to add gnome-session to my fluxbox startup script, gnome-session will launch a bunch of extra stuff (like nautilus), that I don't want, or need. I also noticed that gnome-session launches the gnome-settings-daemon, which I hoped might be what makes this work, so I tried adding just that to ~/.fluxbox/startup, but it didn't work. So, is there some sort of fake gnome-session that will work, without launching all the extra stuff?
    – Dan Jones
    Apr 27, 2013 at 16:13

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