News about Variety Wallpaper Changer

Variety is an open-source wallpaper changer for Linux

Variety is packed with great features, yet slim and easy to use. It can use local images or automatically download wallpapers from lots of online sources, allows you to rotate them on a regular interval, and provides easy ways to separate the great images from the junk. Variety can also display wise and funny quotations or a nice digital clock on the desktop.

See some screenshots

Watch a video demo

Installation on Ubuntu

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:peterlevi/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install variety

Detailed installation instructions are here. Variety runs on Ubuntu 12.04 and newer, on most Ubuntu variants and derivatives – Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Linux Mint and others, and on several other Linux distributions – Arch, Fedora, Debian.

Source code and bug-reporting

You can find the source code, report bugs, request features or download Variety in tar.gz format at Variety’s project page in Launchpad.


Variety runs on enthusiasm, fueled by donations. If you wish to donate, here is how.

Supported image sources

The supported online image sources are Flickr,, World sunlight map (a live wallpaper that changes as the day progresses),, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day,, as well as any site that publishes Media RSS feeds Рe.g. Picasa, SmugMug, deviantART, InterfaceLIFT, etc.


Variety is developed by Peter Levi, a software developer from Bulgaria. Translations are provided by different contributing enthusiasts, you may join in this effort at Launchpad.


  1. I like it!!
    I made some translations into the russian in Launchpad. But I can’t change language in Variety (0.4.12).

    • Variety is currently translatable in Launchpad, but none of the translations have yet been included in a release. Looking at the progress in Launchpad, probably next release will include Russian, Bulgarian and Spanish translations, as they are fairly complete.

  2. I don’t want to register a Launchpad account, but I have the exact same problem as this guy:

    I tried your solution and here is what the terminal messages stated:

    …..~$ /opt/ -v

    INFO:variety: process_command() ‘Received command: ['-v']‘
    INFO:variety: load_banned() ‘Missing or invalid banned URLs list, no URLs will be banned’
    WARNING:variety: load_history() ‘Could not load history file, continuing without it, no worries’
    Traceback (most recent call last):
    File “/opt/”, line 46, in
    File “/opt/”, line 87, in main
    File “/opt/”, line 117, in start
    self.thumbs_manager.mark_active(file=self.used[self.position], position=self.position)
    IndexError: list index out of range

    Thanks, I’m looking forward to getting this to work, looks great!

    • Yes, looks like a bug. Do you currently have some wallpaper image set? I managed to reproduce it by setting a solid color instead of an image for wallpaper, then running Variety – if you have a valid, existing image as a wallpaper, you should be able to run it. Please do report back if this workaround works for you. Thanks.

      • Yes, your idea worked! You were correct, I had a gradient color as a background. Variety seems to be running fine now, thanks.

  3. Excellent app Peter, I’ve been looking for an desktop program like this for some time, any plans for an ‘android’ version?

    • Yes, I would definitely want to release an Android version in the future, but I simply don’t have enough time to work that much on Variety at the moment. Besides, I’d like to finish some more functionality on the Ubuntu version that would give me better insight on how to go on with the mobile versions (usage statistics reporting, and a “Variety users’ favorites” channel which requires server-side support).

  4. Using Voyager OS fork of Xubuntu, and the current configuration has a different wallpaper for each workspace. I would prefer having the same wallpaper for each workspace and I’m not sure how to change that. Any help would be appreciated.

  5. hi, Can you make an easy to install package in other formats like rpm etc. I am using fedora18 and am not too used to installing from source. In any case, great job with the utility. :)

  6. I am using Variety and it works great. I use Ubuntu 12.04LTS and would like a different background in each workspace. When I do a google search for this the results say that Variety is capable of providing this functionality, but I cannot find how to enable it. There does not appear to be an an option in the preferences for example.

    • I don’t know where you read this, but it is not possible. GNOME does not support different wallpapers on different workspaces without heavy hacking. I find this quite stupid, but that’s the state of things.

      • Thanks very much for the definitive amswer! The confusion arose with a google search result on the keyword search “variety wallpaper changer ubuntu workspaces”:

        About Variety | Variety
        Variety is a wallpaper changer for Ubuntu which is featureful, yet slim and very easy to … Variety was created by Peter Levi, for the Ubuntu App Showdown 2012. … and the current configuration has a different wallpaper for each workspace.

        Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  7. Thank you so very much for your extremely well thought-out ‘Variety’ app. This is the first wallpaper app I have been ecstatic about since my affair wih Linux and Ubuntu started 5 years ago! No other app is so flexible, easy to set-up or offers the small conveniences that one wants in wallpapare changers but rarely thinks about them! Pay-Pal time…
    Mars Bonfire

  8. brilliant app, works really well yet really simply, but there only seems to be about 8 quotes on a loop. otherwise as i said brilliant

    • Quotes are worked on, the next version will support more sources, not only QuotesDaddy (which turned out to be a bad choice).

  9. Brilliant app. Just installed today and absolutely love it. So many features, and SO well presented; from the taskbar indicator menu to the preferences themselves, to the amount of display configurations available on the quotes/clock, and image enhancements. If this is the kind of software you put out when you “don’t have much free time”, then I wish you had a lot more free time. More Ubuntu software needs to be like this – polished and professional and fantastically written.
    My only wish is that there were a slightly-less-blur option; I wouldn’t mind toning some of the images down a bit without blurring them completely.
    Thanks for this! Will donate for this one, for sure.

    • 0.4.17 has two blur options (soft and heavy), and you can add custom filters or tweak the default ones – just check the filters section in ~/.config/variety/variety.conf. Specifically for less-blur you need to reduce the numbers in the blur filters.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply. I see the conf files for Heavy Blur, but I don’t see a Soft option anywhere. Heavy with the settings set to 1×1 (assuming that’s as low as it can go?) is still a little heavy…

        • Soft blur will be there on a fresh install of 0.4.17 – upgraded installations won’t see it. You may find it in variety_latest_default.conf in the same folder. But it uses the same ImageMagick blur command with another size setting, so if you are modifying the existing one directly, no need to look for the soft one.

          Are you sure you are editing, saving and reloading Variety correctly after the edit? 1×1 is a very very light blurring, almost unnoticeable.

          • Ah, that may be the issue. I was just using the ‘next’ function and letting it load a new image, and each one seemed to be less and less blurry after changing the values. I just noticed that after a reboot there is hardly any blur – so restarting the Variety app was definitely the problem.
            Again – thanks for the help, and for the excellent software!

  10. Ubuntu, Inkscape, IntelliJIDEA, Shotwell and this Variety are my best software list.
    I love your app !! It is great and now it is MUST-HAVE on my every Ubuntu OS.
    You did great job, really. I can see that you have put your heart into this app.
    There are many usefull options.

    My favourite features are: quotes and adjusting how they are displayed,
    blurring wallpapers so they don’t distract me,
    and list of quite good places to download wallpapers.

  11. I love this app, and I know a lot of other Ubuntu users who do as well.
    Have you considered submitting it for inclusion in the Ubuntu Software Centre?

    • It is included in USC for Ubuntu 12.04 and 12.10. But the approval and update process is too slow and cumbersome and I’m not doing it anymore. What’s worth is to include it in universe repository, but I haven’t yet checked the exact procedures for this. As far as I get it, anyone from the community can volunteer for this, at the moment I don’t have the time to educate myself in the process, so I rely on a PPA instead.

  12. OUTstanding application, very well thought out and intuitive menus. I installed the current version 0.4.17 from repo. It launches perfectly and in General – Images – If I highlight my local pictures folder /home/user/pictures I see a series of photos at the bottom of my screen. But the wall paper never changes. I am running Bodhi Linux (based on U 12.04 LTS) with Enlightenment 0.17.4 desktop. Anyone have any advise? TIA , Ronin

    • Enlightenment is not supported, because there does not seem to be any standard way to change the wallpaper there from the command line. If you know a command, or can write a bash script to change the wallpaper, then you can add it to ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper and Variety will work. Please report back here if you succeed in this.

  13. Peter I cannot seem to get a date and time to come up on a Toshiba Satellite running 12.04 LTS. Quotes come up just fine.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks for the beautiful program!

    • Is ImageMagick installed and working fine? Have you modified the clock configuration in the conf file – you may try resetting it to the default by deleting the current clock_filter entry. Or run Variety in a terminal with “/opt/ -v” and check the log for clock-related errors.

  14. Hello Peter and thanks for the quick reply.
    Apparently I somehow did not get Imagemagick installed the first time around.
    It is now installed and Variety is working just fine.

    Thanks again and Happy Holidays to you and yours.

  15. Can you add an option so you can set the command line for the background changer. This way someone like myself could specify something like “fbsetbg -a %f” with the %f being a placeholder for the filename of the wallpaper. I use Fluxbox for my window manager.

    Heck, hide it away as a power feature if you want. Anyone running Fluxbox or Openbox will have no problem editing a config file to set the wallpaper changer.

    • It is hidden just a Google search away, even this very page mentions it a few comments above – edit ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper, read the comments at the top before changing.

    • I apologize. I can see that it is possible to do this with Variety. I came here from reading an article that only mentioned that Variety worked with Unity, Gnome, KDE and XFCE. It did not mention you could set a custom wallpaper changer.

      Great Application

  16. Hi Again.
    Still love this app. I see that it says it can be configured to use fortune for the quotes (the ones that come in the regular options are getting a little religious/preachy/sentimental for me and I’d much rather switch to fortunes humor/dirty categories!) Can’t figure out how to make it happen, though.
    Thanks !

    • Hello. Quotes are configured from Effects / Quotes / Sources and filtering, you can enter some keywords or tags there to look for or you can turn off some of the default quote sources. If by fortune you mean the Linux fortune command, it is not supported by default, it can be added via a plugin, but no one has written it yet :-) Not sure where you read it is supported, but it’s not true. If you are interested in light Python scripting –

      • Ah.
        I did try using the filtering to filter by humor, but apparently in the selection of sources I chose there was literally only one humorous choice, so I started getting the same quote over and over (and it wasn’t even that funny!)
        Maybe I’ll look into the python plugin writing.
        This site, if you scroll down under “what’s new in this update”, seems to indicate that Variety will support “fortune file format”. I assumed that’s what this meant.

        • If you hover the mouse over the local files option in quote sources you will see where you can put files with quotes in them. They should be in the same format that is used by the fortune program, this is what’s meant there. But you need to provide the files yourself. Variety comes by default with one fairly big file, that’s quite heavy on humorous quotes. But if you use only this source, keywords are not like tags, but should literally appear in the quote, so “humor” won’t work well.

  17. Everything I was looking and even more!
    There could be a detailed instruction on how to create keyboard shortcuts. I figure it out, but it was a bit tough.
    I suggest Yahoo pipes to turn RSS into a Media RSS.

  18. Variety is Great!! I just installed it today and it already works much better than my previous choice Wallch. Is there any chance of a windows edition since I would love these options on the windows platform.

  19. I would love to see Variety made for LMDE, because I’ve tried the current version aqnd it just screws up my updates, and I have no idea why. Gary

    • Hm, according to this thread, it should work OK on LMDE, I’m not sure how you have installed it. I haven’t personally tested it on LMDE, but it shouldn’t be much different from installing it on Debian and there it works fine when installed from the deb file.

      I’m not sure what the results would be if you try to add the PPA: this thread says it’s a bad idea generally.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.