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How can I change my desktop background from command line?

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Edit: In later versions of Ubuntu (this question was written in 2011, after all), things moved to gsettings. See: How to change desktop background from command line in Unity?


It's a gconf setting: /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename. You can set its value by running the following:

gconftool-2 -t string -s /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename <path>

Obviously, replace <path> with a full path to the background image you want to display.

If you want to see what else is available from a nice GUI, run:

gconf-editor /desktop/gnome/background/
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    I did this with gconf-editor but nothing changed. I'm assuming it will when I restart things, but I'd rather not have to close everything to try out a new background. Is there a way to get it to refresh immediately? – MalcolmOcean Feb 27 '13 at 1:18

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