This post is now out-of-date; for an updated guide see OS X-Like Widgets with Screenlets on Ubuntu (3rd Update)
Both Windows Vista and Mac OS X include some sort of desktop widgets. Ubuntu doesn’t by default, but it’s easy to get the same features with Screenlets. Screenlets are written in Python with the Screenlet framework and drawn with vector SVG graphics.
This post explains how to install, configure, and use Screenlets on Ubuntu 7.10.
Screenlets require Compiz desktop effects (or another compositing window manager) to be turned on.
sources.list file by running this command in order to add the
sudo gedit /etc/apt/sources.list
Add this line to the end of the file:
deb http://hendrik.kaju.pri.ee/ubuntu gutsy screenlets
Save and close the editor and run this command to authenticate the repository and update apt:
wget http://hendrik.kaju.pri.ee/ubuntu/hendrikkaju.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add - && sudo apt-get update
And run this to install screenlets:
sudo apt-get install screenlets
Starting and Stopping Screenlets
The Screenlets manager can be started from the
To start a Screenlet, select it from the list and check
Automatically start on login. The Screenlet will launch immediately and
whenever you log in.
Screenlets can be moved by clicking and dragging them. By default, Screenlets
will always stay on top of windows. To change this right click on a Screenlet,
Window menu and uncheck
To stick a Screenlet to all workspaces, right click on the Screenlet, open the
Window menu and check
OS X Dashboard Style
A Mac OS X dashboard effect can be obtained using Compiz’s Widget Layer plugin.
In the Appearance Preferences dialog (
Visual Effects tab and switch to custom effects. If this option is not
available you need to install CCSM first. Then click the
Preferences button to
open CCSM. Find the Widget Layer plugin and turn it on.
For every Screenlet you want on the widget layer, right click and open it’s
Window menu and check
Widget. The Screenlet will disappear. Toggle the
Widget Layer by pressing F9.
Installing New Screenlets
Screenlets are easy to develop and there are many available online. GNOME-Look.org has a Desklets section that offers Screenlets for download.
When you download a Screenlet, it should decompress to a single folder. This
folder needs to be put in a hidden folder called
.screenlets in your home
.screenlets folder may not exist yet. Open your home folder and click
View->Show Hidden Files and create it if it does not exist. Then drop the
downloaded folder in and the new Screenlet should appear in the manager.