News about Variety Wallpaper Changer

Variety 0.4.12 released, adding Quotes support


Variety 0.4.12 was released today with several very nice new features and improvements.

Quotes support

Variety can now fetch quotes from QuotesDaddy and display them in a very beautiful way on the desktop. Users can configure almost everything related to the type of quotes they would see and the way they would be displayed – keywords, authors, font, colors, placement, etc. Sharing the best quotes on Facebook is one click away. Check the screenshots and the video for a demonstration of quotes goodness. I believe a lot of users will like and use this feature.

Preferences are applied immediately

Variety’s preferences now behave the “Ubuntu” way – once you click an option, it becomes active immediately, there is no need to press a dedicated “Save” button. This makes it much easier to work with some of the “visual” features like filters, quotes, clock. And losing changes by forgetting to press Save is now also a thing of the past.

Customizable indicator icon

Users can now configure the indicator icon that Variety displays, so that it blends best with their desktop looks. There are five options:

  • “Light” is the default icon, suitable for dark themes like Ubuntu’s Ambiance.
  • “Dark” is the inversed version, which is best for light themes like Ubuntu’s Radiance.
  • Users can choose a custom image which better suits their icon theme
  • The current wallpaper can be used as an icon, changing dynamically as the wallpaper changes. I am sure a lot of users will like this option.
  • Or the icon can be completely hidden. Variety can still be controlled from the command line, via keyboard shortcuts, or from the Launcher icon quicklist. To facilitate this I have added support for several additional command line arguments.
Clock font options

Until now the clock was only configurable in a hacky way via the clock_filter property in variety.conf. This still remains an option, but I have added user-friendly options in the GUI for the most important aspect of the clock – the fonts (name and size) of the clock and date texts. The default clock filter was also updated to provide a more refined look to the clock. NOTE: If you have modified the clock_filter property you will not see the new version, unless you comment it out or delete it from variety.conf. Read more on clock configuration here and here.

Copy to Favorites vs. Move to Favorites

This release introduces a user-friendly way to choose which operation you prefer to have in the menu – Copy to Favorites, Move to Favorites or both.

Support for XMP/EXIF image ratings

Variety can now filter images based on their EXIF ratings, and also provides means for editing image ratings (without cluttering the menu for users who don’t use this feature). EXIF ratings can also be used or changed in external photo-management applications like Shotwell, Darktable, etc.

A Donate tab in Preferences

I have added a way for users to give back to Variety. If you like and use Variety, please consider a small donation. I don’t expect to become rich from donations, but they will show me Variety is valued by you – the users – and will motivate me to continue working actively on it.

Video Demo

Here is a video demonstrating the most important new features.

I wish you many pleasant moments with Variety,
Peter Levi


  1. Really nice app. I’m using it on Ubuntu Gnome Remix w/Gnome-shell v3.6. Couple issues: middle-wheel scrolling over the icon in the notification tray has no effect, so it’s not easy to change to the next wallpaper. I’d like to change via keyboard shortcut, but “variety –help” yields “variety: command not found”. How can I configure the keyboard shortcuts? I didn’t find a keyboard shortcut applicable file in the .config/variety folder. I’m using the latest version.

    • To run variety from terminal: /opt/ --help
      Regarding mouse scrolling: Are you using Ubuntu 12.10? Unfortunately there is a bug with 12.10 that reports scroll-down events as scroll-up, and I haven’t yet thought of a good way to get around this in Variety. The relevant bug report is here:

  2. Good work, I like this app very much!

    How can I change the language of quotes? I’d like to add for example italian quotes, like quotes of Primo Levi :)

    Thank you.

    • is currently used to retrieve the quotes, so what you see there is what you can get Variety to show. Unfortunately Anglo-American culture seems to be quite more exposed there than the rest of the world. There is no setting for language, I suppose all quotes there are in English. And they don’t seem to have any quotes by Primo Levi – which is a shame which you, as an Italian, may want to remedy – they allow users to submit quotes :-)

      • Would it be possible to get the quotes from wikiquote? There are many quotes there and it would be possible to select your own idiom.

        • Nope. Wikiquotes’ articles are too free form, data is not structured for automatic extraction. I.e. a program cannot differentiate between what is a quote there and what is part of the biography, some remark, etc. There is also no way to get random quotes.

  3. Dear Peter,
    You’re work is amazing!
    Keep up the good work.
    Greetz R.

  4. Pingback: Disponible Variety 0.4.12, ahora con soporte para citas

  5. Good Work! I’m enjoying variety on ElementaryOS! It works almost perfect… the only problem is that indicator sometimes just disapears from the pandel. Is it a variety or a ElementarOS bug?
    Keep the good work!
    PS: Idea is it posible to add a small “now playing” widget in addition to the clock?

    • No one has reported a similar problem on other platforms, so it may be an elementary bug. Please make sure you are running latest version (0.4.12), then report it on and when I have more time, I’ll install elementary in virtualbox and give it a go myself to see if something can be done. Does it happen out of the blue, or only while you are modifying Variety’s settings?

      What do you mean by “Now playing” – integration with the music player? You’ll have to wait – at some moment in the not-so-close future this part of Variety will become pluginabble, then more widgets will appear.

      • Hi!
        yes, I’m running the latest version. it seems to happen out of the blue. I’ll pay more attention, and possibly find a pattern.
        By “Now Playing” i mean just show the cover, artist and track, on a nice widget. Like coverglobus but simple.
        Keep the good work!

  6. ?Uou! que pasada! I like it! Voy a probarlo. :)

  7. Love your app! :-)

    Please add placement-settings for the clock (like the ones you have for the quotes). I’m using a dock at the bottom, and it overlaps the clock…

    Thanks for your efforts! Cheers!

  8. Nice app. I am using it on Ubuntu Unity 12.10.

    I wanted to request a feature. Can we have access to the current wallpaper status like wallpaper filename, source, time etc?

    When the wallpaper changes, can Variety trigger a script and pass the wallpaper information to it? It can write the wallpaper info to a file in JSON format and then trigger the script. You can do this in anyway that you find easy to implement.

    What I want to achieve is ping my server when the wallpaper changes so that I can fetch the image and put it up in the header of my personal blog that I am creating now.

    • Variety already supports running custom commands on wallpaper change, see ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper (or read here:
      Additionally you can get the current wallpaper path by running /opt/ --get. Is that enough or you want some additional info? URL source is not always available (as the image might have been local), but if the image comes from an online source, the URL is in the image metadata and you can read it from there (it is easy using python/pyexiv2 – see Variety’s Util.read_metadata for an example).

  9. Great program….. Smooth as glass and skillfully done! A cherry on the top would be inclusion of transitions, fade to/from etc. I’m using this on 12.04 and have removed all other slideshow programs in favor of yours. Thank you!

  10. Thank you very much for an excellent utility, which I’m using on Mint with the latest version of Cinnamon. (I found it on the Web Upd8 blog.)

    One feature I miss from other wallpaper changers is the ability to define how wallpapers that don’t exactly fit the screen are displayed – I prefer them to keep their proportions, even if that means black bars at the top/bottom/sides, while somebody else might prefer them stretched to fit, or the outsides cropped.

    Maybe it’s there and I missed it, but if not, is it something you might consider including in the future?

    • First, thanks for the donation – much appreciated :-)
      Regarding your question – Variety only changes the wallpaper image, and how it is drawn on screen is determined by the desktop environment. In Ubuntu there is a combobox for this in the Appearance settings (where you normally change the wallpaper), where you can choose between zoom, scale, fill, tile, etc. I don’t know where it is on Mint/Cinnamon, but it is most probably at the same place where the wallpaper is configured. If it is missing, you should be able to achieve the same by calling "gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options scaled".

      • If you use quotes or clock, mind that using a different scaling setting than the default one (which is Zoom) will affect in a negative way their positioning on screen (the calculations there assume Zoom is used and compensate for the stripped parts of the image). They will function fairly OK, but will slightly change position and size when the wallpaper changes.

      • Thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly, and you’re welcome.

        Yes, Cinnamon has that setting, now I look properly – I’m so used to the wallpaper randomiser handling that function it didn’t occur to me to look anywhere else for it.

        Hopefully this might help somebody else with the same issue.

        • Using the ‘Settings > Background’ GUI to set the picture aspect doesn’t works for me so I modified the the config file $HOME/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper to add the following lines in the cinnamon section

          gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options scaled

  11. Peter, Well done with Variety.

    Running flawlessly on Cinnamon Mint13 32 and 64 bit.

    Could I suggest a feature,
    A holiday button, at the moment I’ve turned off all downloads and images except for one folder,which has Christmas Wallpaper – that I’ve already downloaded.

    I would suggest that Variety might remember your settings and toggle them on/off once you specify the one holiday folder AND/OR automatically downloads specified images for that holiday, halloween/christmas/easter etc.

  12. I installed Variety in Debian Wheezy today. Looks like it works fine for GNOME Shell and Xfce. I have it set only to pull wallpapers from a specified directory, and it appears to pull random images from the directory, in no particular order. Is that correct?

    • Yes, Variety has no sequential order mode, it only selects images randomly – more info why this is so here:

      Would you please describe how you installed it on Debian – I haven’t tried myself and I’d like to have instructions in the How To Install section? Did you follow directly the instructions for installing from source or some other means, were there any issues to resolve, etc.?

  13. Thanks very much for the reply.

    I downloaded the .deb. From Nautilus in GNOME Shell, I right-clicked on the .deb in my /Downloads directory and chose “Open With Software Install.” Then I just followed the prompts. No problems that I could see.

    So, that’s quite a simple way to install it. I have another computer that has Wheezy with only Xfce, no GNOME and Nautilus present, and I will look into installing Variety on that one as soon as I get a chance.

    • Another approach that worked in Debian Wheezy, of course: Download the .deb file, su to the Downloads directory, and run dpkg -i variety_0.4.12_all.deb. dpkg won’t install a package whose dependencies aren’t met, so I got messages about the unmet dependencies. So I simply went to Synaptic, clicked on Edit > Fix Broken Packages. The variety_0.4.12_all.deb package was listed and marked, so then I clicked on “Apply.” That installed the dependencies and configured variety.

  14. hi, are there any plans to implement support for ?

    • People are requesting support for all sorts of sites. For now I don’t plan to add support for any new sites, instead one of the next big steps is to make Variety pluginnable so that other developers can join in by creating plugins for downloading from various sites. But this will not happen very soon, as there are a couple higher-priority tasks first.

  15. Variety is AWESOME! Thank you very much for this app. This goes way beyond the features of all the other options that it is kind of ridiculous. (ridiculous in a good way)

    The only issue I have is the History cache not being able to be cleared. I do one wallpaper per hour and even then after two weeks there are just way too many listed in the History. It would be really nice to clear that out especially if it could be cleared out except for maybe the last 5-10. That would be even better.

    Love the app dude and will certainly donate to it soon.

    • Glad to hear you like it :-)

      As for History – it’s limited to 200 entries I think, but this is hardcoded and there’s no setting to lower this. To clear it you can simply delete the file ~/.config/variety/history.txt. Or perhaps with some bash magic, you can actually have Variety truncate the file to, say, 10 entries every time the wallpaper changes: edit ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper and add this line towards the end:

      (sleep 5; head -n 10 ~/.config/variety/history.txt > /tmp/tmp.txt && cp /tmp/tmp.txt ~/.config/variety/history.txt) &

      The sleep is to leave Variety finish updating the history file after the wallpaper change before we truncate it. But this will have effect only on the next run – the actual history that Variety displays is kept in memory.

      Perhaps in a future version I should take out all these magic constants to a config file…

  16. I like the quotes idea, but all I get are quotes about Birth? What’s up with that?

    • The default settings use QuotesDaddy’s quote of the day feed which is not exactly random and is often centered around some theme. You can wait some time and this current theme will be replaced by something else. Or you can specify some specific tags or authors, e.g. “funny”, and this will override their chosen daily theme.

  17. Hi, thanks for the great app.

    I was wondering why isn’t there an option to shuffle the pictures in a folder? I mean, I want Variety to pick a random image from my folder when I change the wallpaper.

    Also scroll option doesn’t seam to work properly in Ubuntu 12.10 with Gnome Shell. It goes to the previous image in both scroll ways.


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  20. Variety is great but………………………
    it does not shows quotes when offline how to resolve this?

  21. Excellent application! I really like it.

    How Variety can show image data in top right conner (EXIF?) like in Wally for example?

    Thanks a lot.

    • There is no such functionality out of the box. You can add it via a custom ImageMagick filter in ~/.config/variety/variety.conf or you can hack it into ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper.

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