Animated wallpaper may not be very useful, it just looks sweet. :) In this how-to I will explain setting up an animated background that works with Compiz Fusion on Ubuntu using a program called XWinWrap.

If you don’t run Compiz Fusion this guide is not for you. This other method works just fine if you are not using Compiz.

This is my desktop:

XWinWrap is not available in the Ubuntu repositories. I installed it with this DEB package from Treviño’s Ubuntu Repository.

Double-click on the downloaded package to open the package installer. Click install to install XWinWrap. Now press Alt-F2, or open a terminal, to enter this command: (Careful, it may be running off the page a bit.)

xwinwrap -ni -argb -fs -s -st -sp -nf -b -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/glmatrix -window-id WID

Your desktop should be taken over by glMatrix, the screensaver effect that I used in the video. Unfortunately, it is not possible to have desktop icons over the animation. After the double dash, you should be able to run any program you want to use as your background. Screensavers work well. Look in /usr/lib/xscreensaver for a ton of screensavers you can use. Here are a few of them I tried:

xwinwrap -ni -argb -fs -s -st -sp -nf -b -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/atunnel -window-id 
xwinwrap -ni -argb -fs -s -st -sp -nf -b -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/flyingtoasters -window-id WID
Plasma (my eyes!):
xwinwrap -ni -argb -fs -s -st -sp -nf -b -- /usr/lib/xscreensaver/plasma -window-id WID

I have a Intel Core 2 Quad and an Nvidia Geforce 8600GT, some of the screensavers ran better than others but most had no noticeable impact on Compiz’s performance.

If you run into trouble, kill the screensaver application. Switch to a terminal with Ctrl-Alt-F1 and use killall programname, and then switch back to X with Ctrl-Alt-F7.

Have fun with your new animated wallpaper!

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