I want an animated desktop wallpaper on Ubuntu. For example, the animated Enlightenment background.

How does one achieve this?

  • 2
    What kind of animation? Animated gif? Video? Slide show? – desgua May 5 '11 at 17:47
  • 1
    Animated gif or video. – Jordy May 6 '11 at 3:40
  • Please check this: khattam.info/… I will post the instructions ASAP – desgua May 11 '11 at 23:37
  • It would be great if there was some unobtrusive animation in the background such as you have it on the Playstation 3 Menu... slowly changing colors, ... a few particles ... – gruenewa May 22 '11 at 12:10
  • I made the question more general (it will probably get a lot of views and we can use it as the canonical question :). – RolandiXor Oct 27 '11 at 0:33

Live Wallpaper

The Live Wallpaper app was featured on OMG! Ubuntu.

A number of live wallpapers come with the software, including:

  • Circles

    LiveWallpaper screenshot - Circles

  • Galaxy

    LiveWallpaper screenshot - Galaxy

  • Nexus

    LiveWallpaper screenshot - Nexus

  • Noise

    LiveWallpaper screenshot - Noise

  • Photoslide

    LiveWallpaper screenshot - Photoslide

(Obviously, these look really cool when they're actually moving.)

Additional live wallpapers can be added as plugins written in C.

  • Unfortunately, the stable PPA seems not to work, but I just installed daily and that looks good. Also, make sure to install the package livewallpaper-config (settings application). Not sure why they didn't put all in one package... – Cedric Reichenbach Aug 21 '14 at 9:50
  • does it support animated gifs? and... there is no desktop icons in front of it? – Aquarius Power May 11 '17 at 22:27
  • This is the definitive answer. Works on 16.04 as well. Sad though that desktop icons are not shown, despite the fact that it says it should work on Nautilus. – oarfish Dec 12 '17 at 18:10

I have seen 2 backgrounds that are animated and there is a package called xplanet for one of them inside USC. This website is where it comes from.

It is a picture of the earth and moon turning and looks absolutely amazing.


Unfortunately I cannot get this to work in 11.04.

There is also one with real time sunlight. A PPA to install it can be found here


  • 1
    The person that downvoted me: care to tell me why two year later you believe this still works? It is pre Unity... – Rinzwind May 7 '13 at 7:16

You can use A-Desk, this is a script that allows you to use video files as a wallpaper. Here is a link to my article about installing a-desk 0.17 on Ubuntu 10.10.

Install a-desk 0.17 on Ubuntu 10.10

There is a new version of A-Desk (0.18) but installing it works the same.

The problem with A-Desk is that all the download links for it fail these days.

  • Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. – RolandiXor Oct 27 '11 at 0:34

If you can live with a "sort of" animated background, the best solution is Ubuntu's "slideshow" feature, which is a bit buried in Settings and only editable via slighly non-GUI means. It allows you to change your wallpaper, also in short intervals, thus giving you an animated impression.

This feature is covered in these questions and discussed in these blogposts: Advanced Background Slideshows in Ubuntu and Animated desktop wallpaper on Ubuntu Linux, the latter comparing it with other options.


I found a great tool called xwinwrap, more specifically shantz-xwinwrap, that lets you draw the out-put of any program (video player, screensaver) to the desktop background. Install instructions and download at http://tech.shantanugoel.com/2008/09/03/shantz-xwinwrap.html.

to compile you will need to download the single source file from:
and to have installed these packages:
libxext-dev libxrandr-dev

on ubuntu 14.04 only this compile command worked:
gcc -Wall -Wstrict-prototypes -Wmissing-prototypes -Wmissing-declarations -Wredundant-decls xwinwrap.c -lX11 -lXext -lXrender -o xwinwrap
basically I had to put the -l and -o options to the ending

  • You should summarize the steps here and provide the link only for reference. This avoids problems with linkrot. – Knowledge Cube Mar 21 '13 at 3:41
  • even after compiling, it still did not work as expected, it is opening the target application window (in my case eog with an animated gif) and it not actually using it as background/wallpaper, the target app window just shows up as a normal app window. – Aquarius Power May 11 '17 at 23:21

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