Unlike macOS and Windows 10, Ubuntu doesn’t support live wallpapers. While you can always download an app from the store and set up a slideshow of Ubuntu native wallpapers or your own images. But, the problem is there’s an end to all those images and they get boring after a point!
I needed an app that can download wallpapers from sources like Google Earth, Bing, Unsplash, desktoppr, etc and set them as the wallpaper dynamically. So, with that said, here’s the list of best dynamic wallpaper apps for Ubuntu.
Best Ubuntu Dynamic Wallpaper Apps
1. Bing Wallpaper Changer
Bing Daily Wallpaper is a GNOME extension that pulls wallpaper from Bing and updates it daily. Moreover, unlike other Bing Daily wallpaper apps, this doesn’t feature the Bing watermark on the wallpapers. My favorite feature is that you can choose to switch locations and get wallpaper updates for a different timezone. The extension also deletes previously downloaded wallpapers and even allows you the option to choose the number of days to retain the wallpapers.
The Bing wallpaper extension works flawlessly but it isn’t of any use if you don’t use the GNOME desktop environment.
Download Bing Wallpaper Changer
2. Google Earth Wallpapers
Google Earth Live wallpaper is another GNOME extension from the developer of Bing Daily Wallpaper. But unlike the previous extension, this one has 2 major differences. First, it can source wallpaper images from 5 different locations: Google Maps, Google Earth, GNOME Maps, OpenStreetMaps, and BingMaps. Unfortunately, you can only select one amongst the various sources. Second, the app allows you to set a custom refresh interval that is missing in quite a few apps in this list.
The wallpapers are high definition and the app also shows you the name, link, and co-ordinates of the location. Moreover, the app automatically deletes the previous wallpaper. It would have been handy if there was an option to customize the storage of previous wallpapers.
Download Google Earth Wallpapers
3. NASA APOD Wallpaper
Similar to the Bing Wallpaper Changer, NASA APOD updates your wallpaper daily based on the NASA Astronomy Picture of the day. It also provides a brief explanation of the wallpaper, which obviously it picks up from the same NASA website along with the wallpaper. The extensions’ settings menu provides a couple of additional options to view previously downloaded wallpapers and pin them. Apart from this, there’s no option to archive or auto-delete previous wallpapers. Hence, you would have to manually clear the wallpaper folder.
Download NASA APOD Wallpaper Changer
4. Komorebi 2
So, the problem with the above-mentioned apps is that all of them are GNOME extensions and won’t work for you in case you are using Plasma, LXDe, etc. So, Komorebi 2 is a sequel of the extremely popular open-source wallpaper app Komorebi and it runs on any desktop environment.
The unique thing about Komorebi wallpapers is that they are interactive. You can drag around the clock or fiddle around the wallpaper surface. For instance, I had this Aeroplane window wallpaper and I could hover my mouse over the window and the plane’s wings would change direction. Komorebi also lets you create your video wallpapers by uploading an MP4 of a movable scene. It’s really fun to convert my Pixel motion pictures into desktop wallpapers.
To set up a random image slideshow, select UnSplash from the wallpaper list.
Komorebi 2 is quite minimal and simple but the video wallpapers can cause stress on your low-spec computer. Moreover, it replaces the desktop right-click option and icons which can be a bit annoying if you use them.
Download Komorebi 2
5. Mac OS Mojave Wallpaper
So, here’s a small XML file that replicates the macOS Mojave’s dynamic wallpaper. However, the setup is quite tedious and would test your patience. Here’s how to do it.
- Download the macOS Mojave wallpapers ZIP File from this link. Create a “wallpapers” directory in the Pictures directory.
- Rename the Mojave wallpaper directory from “mojave_dynamic” to “mojave-background”.
- Download the Mojave XML file from this link.
- Edit the Mojavae.xml file and change all instances of “thang” to “$USER”.
- In GNOME tweaks, change the background wallpaper to “Mojave.XML” under the Appearance tab.
6. Process Wallpaper
Process-wallpaper is a tiny python script that set the desktop wallpaper of a word cloud of the most resource-hungry processes running on your local system. I have been rocking this wallpaper for quite a long time and while this is not the first word-cloud wallpaper, it certainly looks cool.
It picks up the resource-hungry processes and you can schedule the script in a crontab job and convert it into a live wallpaper app. The Python script also has a couple of pre-requisites like Python3, GSetting, etc, depending on your Linux distro. I have a separate article explaining the entire setup and process, you can have a look at it.
- Creates a wordcloud of most resource-hungry processes
- Requires setting up using Python3 and crontab
Unlike Komorebi or Google Earth Wallpapers, Variety can combine multiple Internet sources and set up random wallpapers. It has a list of wallpaper sources like Unsplash, Flickr, desktoppr, bing, etc. You can choose to add your own online sources like Pexels, Pixabay or your own Google Drive link. Moreover, it lets you set up a custom refresh interval and the download folder storage limit.
Out of all the apps in this list, Variety provides a huge amount of customizations like editing the appearance, image size, placement, etc. Additionally, the app has a lot of hidden tricks. For instance, to quickly change the wallpaper you can just hover over the indicator icon at the top and swipe up on the trackpad. It will move to the next image in the list.
sudo apt-get install variety
These were a few of the selected apps from a whole pool of live and dynamic wallpapers for Ubuntu. I rocked the process wallpaper for a while and now I jumped to the Google Earth Wallpaper extension as I am on GNOME. You can try out Komorebi 2 or Variety on other desktop environments. For more issues or queries, let me know in the comments below.
Also Read: Best Image Compression Apps For Ubuntu