News about Variety Wallpaper Changer

Variety 0.4.17 released


Variety 0.4.17 was released today with some important fixes.
(Note: There was a short-lived release version 0.4.16 before it, which I had deployed in an incorrect way)

Vastly improved quotes fetching. Quote plugins.

When I initially added the quotes feature to Variety, lots of people liked it. But with time QuotesDaddy, the quote source I had chosen to use, turned out to be a poor choice – they changed the behaviour of their RSS feeds and the quote selection that Variety was getting was way too limited. Additionally some people asked for quotes in their native language, not in English.

Variety 0.4.17 supports quote plugins and comes by default with plugins for quotes from, Goodreads, QuotesDaddy, and from local files. This means that quotes are now way more interesting and varied.

If anyone is interested in creating additional quote sources, please start with the plugin writing tutorial at, or just use the existing quote plugins as an example. If you do write a plugin – please update the wiki and link to your creations, so the other users of Variety can use them too.

Fixed and improved support for and

As I wrote in the previous post, and were both updated recently, which broke Variety’s support for them. This is now fixed and you can again use them as image sources.

What’s more, Wallbase support is now both simpler and more comprehensive: the new site exposes a proper URL when searching and setting criteria, so now the user can setup the search criteria on the site and then paste the URL in Variety. This means that you can now filter by more things than before, like aspect ratio, resolution, etc. You can also use collection URLs, e.g.

Variety Wiki

I set up a wiki for Variety, where users can exchange knowledge about Variety in a more free-form way: You will notice a link to specific parts of the Wiki here and there in Variety’s interface. Please use it in a civilized manner.

Adding more translations

This version includes localized strings for two more languages – Japanese and Ukrainian. Thanks to all Launchpad translators.

Various minor subtleties

There are some other small details touched and improved here and there, there is no need to list them here.


  1. Thank you for the update. Wallbase images now downloading 😀

    I run dual monitors, a proper blue sky idea would be having two different wallpapers. That would be really cool.

    Again thanks for all the efforts. Great program.

  2. Hello Peter! Glad to know Variety is still in development, thanks for maintaining this little gem. However: I don’t know if I’m the only one with this problem, but since the update, Variety no longer starts on boot. I have the option enabled in the preferences, and Variety is registered in my Startup Applications. But when I boot into Ubuntu, it doesn’t load.

    When I run it manually, it works perfectly. But even then, it won’t load up after I reboot.

    Running Ubuntu 13.04 64-bit on an AMD machine. Perhaps you have an idea what’s happening?

    • Are you running 0.4.17 or 0.4.16? Please make sure you are running 0.4.17, and if the problem persists – please uncheck and check again the option for autostart – this will recreate the autostart launcher. This was a problem with the deployment of 0.4.16, and 0.4.17 was supposed to fix it.

      • It’s 0.4.17. I remember un-setting ad re-setting the autostart option before posting here, and it didn’t work – but I just tried again (closed and re-started the entire program in between) and now it seems to be working fine! Thanks for your help, and I’ll keep an eye on it. :-)

  3. tnx for this great application.
    I have xfce desktop which doesn’t have any global proxy configuration and it seems variety doesn’t work with command line proxy (“http_proxy”) and neither with proxychains. what you suggetst?

  4. Peter, I use my own 800 pixel images from a specific folder on several desktops and notebooks but lately I seem to be getting the occasional thumbnail .png displaying. These seem to be coming from a .thumbnails folder which I suspect was created by Variety, I don’t have any issues with this but wonder why they are being displayed….would be grateful for any clues on fixing this. Tom
    BTW: Thanks for a great program, would love to use 3rd party wallpaper but my internet connection is rather poor here.

    • Variety is not creating the .thumbnails folder, some other program is doing this (Variety keeps all its files within ~/.config/variety). However, it contains images and is inside the parent images folder and Variety searches folders recursively, so it picks them up. You can set a filter by size in the Color and size tab in Variety’s preferences and it will skip them.

      • Thanks Peter, tried to use the ‘size’ option setting but I think that it would be easier to just have a ‘file-type’ tickbox in this case….it seems to be adding .png files from the .thumbnails directory, if you could disable .png and just tick .jpg it might work…..would that be easy to implement (….or is it already and I just haven’t noticed it?) Tom

        • No such option, and I doubt I’ll add one. Pngs are just as valid images as jpegs – there’s simply not enough reason to discriminate based on file type. The core of your problem here is “these images are too small for my display” and if the size filter doesn’t work properly for you, that’s what we should target to fix. The other option is to allow adding non-recursive directories, but this won’t be soon – I’m not focused on the offline options of Variety at the moment.

  5. AWESOME work guys, this it the best wall app forever! 😀 keep doing this great job 😀

  6. I absolutely love “Variety” thank you very much for creating this wonderful application.

    I have a quick question; how do I add “interfacelift” to my list of sources?

    Thanks, P

    • They offer paid MediaRSS subscriptions which you can use in Variety. Alternatively, you can use their (also paid) bulk download service to download all images locally and use them in Variety.

      I personally use it by going to the site from time to time, checking for new images that I like and using Variety’s manual downloading feature to download them quick and easy.

  7. Hello

    I use your software “variety” and I would have “quotes” quote in French

    I would like to know how

    thank you for your help

    I am preparing an article on your software on my blog

    I use google translate to write to you

    • Variety supports quote plugins (simple classes written in Python), this is the way to have quotes in different languages. And then there has to be some decent quote source for French quotes.

      Alternatively, if you can find French quotes in a text file, or generate one somehow, the local text files quotes source can be used – hover your mouse over the “Local text files” checkbox to read instructions where to put the files.

      Please update the wiki if you come up with a solution.

  8. I wrote a quotes plugin to run my custom fortune. Because I couldn’t quickly adapt it to be general use, I didn’t add it to the wiki as you requested, but it is available at

  9. Can I add a displayed date format setting? In the setting of hours? Number of the day – month – day of the week – a year. Choose the order of the items.

  10. I am searching for ways to run a slide show at my wedding and roating bg image is a fairly easy solution, just wondering if it would be possible to add times less than 1 minute? i would want the pics to rotate somehere around every 5-10 sec

    • The 1 minute limit is just for downloading pictures, you can set them to rotate as often as 5 seconds – the setting you need to look for is “Change wallpaper every X seconds”.

  11. Terrific app. Would be nice to be able to change color of fonts used in date, time and quotations.

  12. I recently went over to Ubuntu completely (having used it in a VM for some years) and found this app…and I think it’s awesome!

    Though I noticed that I sometimes get a quote in another language than English (I only use the two sources that are default). Actually it has happened twice the last 24 hours of computer usage, and both the quotes were specifically in a language looking something like those from the middle-eastern countries.

    Would it maybe be possible to implement an option that checks whether the quote (at least) uses the english alphabet or something? The best would of couse be if it could filter away all of the quotes in other languages than English, but I do understand that may not be achievable.

    • There is no easy general-purpose way to do this. You ask for quotes in English, I’ll add such an option and someone would ask “Why only English, I want the same for Arabic”. Language recognition is a hard task, completely out of the scope of Variety.

      Variety has a plugin system for quotes, and implementing this for some specific language is possible via it, maybe there are also some quote sites that support searching by language. But I’ll leave this up to the community, starting point is here:

      • Well considering that English is the de facto standard, and that you supply your program only in that language I think it would be morally okay to just supply a filter for English (or maybe the ability to create your own filter with plugins or whatnot).

        But I do get your point. Modifying the plugins shouldn’t be hard, thank you.

        • Variety is actually available in several other languages as well:

          I partly agree it makes sense to have a filtering option specifically for English (as the default quote sources contain predominantly English quotes), but I still wouldn’t like to step into politically-grey territory and have to deal with the resulting support questions and feedback.

  13. I love this program, it is the BEST wallpaper program out there.

    Thank you for creating such a gem.

  14. Hi Peter,

    First off, great app. Secondly, I would like to write my own downloader but after looking at the Plugin wiki and the source, I am gathering this functionality isn’t yet available via plugins? If that’s wrong, please point me in the right direction…

    Alternatively, I will just add my downloader into the source (but this is not ideal)


    • Correct, there is no plugin support for downloaders yet, they are somewhat more involved and I wanted to see what would be the interest in quote plugins before wiring support for downloading plugins.

      What type of downloader do you want to write? If it is of general interest and the site’s policies are fine with Variety’s type of usage (most aren’t…), you may develop it in a branch, we can then polish it together and merge it into the main tree.


      • The website is – it’s “the art of video games” (you really have to visit to appreciate it). The site offers images for download so, in the absence of a specific policy, it seems to imply that randomly selecting an image and downloading it via Variety would be acceptable usage.

        What do you think?

  15. BitCoin donations?

    • Hm, good idea, it is really time to setup a bitcoin account. Will write back here when I get to this. It will also show in the Donate page here and in the next version whenever it’s released.

    • Hello again, now accepting Bitcoin donations: 1EHtkck9pw2Ry4NP6Es8rAXWEeADLdkqcu. Thanks ahead.

  16. Dude awsome software. Keep up the good work.

  17. This looks great. I just have one problem. I’m new to linux, just installed a Mint 16 Cinnamon. The images are local. I understand the images used to follow the OS background settings – I want mine to “scale”. But each time I start Variety, it changes it to Zoom. I can go into settings, change it back to Scale, and when Variety changes to next image, it goes back to zoom. Going back into settings, that chance is confirmed.

    How do I get the setting to persist?

    Any help is appreciated.

    • Comment out the Gnome 3/ Unity block in ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper – this will fix the problem. This seems to interfere with recent versions of Cinnamon and needs fixing.

      # Gnome 3, Unity
      # gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-uri “file://$WP” 2> /dev/null
      # gsettings set com.canonical.unity-greeter background “$WP”
      # if [ “`gsettings get org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options`” == “‘none'” ]; then
      #    gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.background picture-options ‘zoom’
      # fi

      • Thanks for a fast response! Did that, now it doesn’t seem to change backgrounds at all. I’ve tried Play->Next and there’s no change. Thoughts?

        • Comment out the existing gsettings line for Cinnamon and insert the replacement line below – did this fix things?

          # gsettings set org.cinnamon.background picture-uri “file://$WP” 2> /dev/null

          gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri “file://$WP” 2> /dev/null

          • Tried it – Sorry, no luck. I looked at the history, and it shows that a lot of images were supposedly used, but the desktop background never actually changed.

            Each time, I’ve started and restarted Variety.

          • Please report a bug. We’ll investigate there when I have time. Please also attach there your current set_wallpaper script.

  18. I love this app.

    Two things though.

    1) Could you implement a way to cycle through all of the wallpapers randomly but only once before cycling through again? I want to see all my wallpapers before I see the same one over again.

    2) Would you take bitcoin as a donation option? Through you can even convert to fiat with no risk in real time. I don’t trust paypal and will never use them but would like to support this project in some small way.

    • 1. Not really, as the set of images within some folders is a dynamic thing and can also be way too large. Variety does not traverse the whole folder contents as this can put too much load, so it also does not know the exact set of image files in there, nor how many they are.

      2. Yes, please see the Donate page on this site, I recently updated it with a bitcoin address: 1EHtkck9pw2Ry4NP6Es8rAXWEeADLdkqcu. Thanks.

  19. Hey Peter! Great software, just wanted to give some feedback that this really impressed me. So far it holds well, I had no issues with it and seems to be written well. Maybe there are underlying stuff like we all have, but overall it does its job well.

    Just wanted to thank you so much for your work, I hope in the near future to make a donation for your efforts!

    Keep up the great work and do not worry if people do not write back, I am pretty sure a lot uses it, its just to good not to use it!

    Sincere thankings,

  20. Ah, forgot to mention that I run it on Debian 7 Wheezy 64-bit machine.

  21. Is there a way to make variety repeat wallpaper less?

  22. Hi, i love variety!

    I tried to make my own quotes file, but i’ve some problems:

    1) He “remember” old quotes, i don’t know why, but i checked QuotesDaddy options for a while and now he “remember” all the old quotes showed and even if i uncheck QuotesDaddy, these quotes always appears in rotation queue.

    2) Using my own file, i respected the rules (like the “–” beetween quote and author), but i don’t know why he recognize the second quote as the author of the first.
    E.g. If my file is:
    “Quote A — Author A
    Quote B — Author B”
    It display: “Quote A — Author AQuote B”

    3) It only display the first quote of the file and there isn’t a rotation.

    I check my file for errors many times and i compared it with the example file, but didn’t find anything, so i think that maybe there is some sort of bug.

    I’m Italian, i apologize if i made some mistakes :)


  23. Hi Peter
    I find Variety a real gem, thanks!
    One question:
    As I am a teacher I prefer not to show pictures of people or girls during my lessons.
    Is there any way to filter images avoiding the ones containing “skin tone” colors?


    • Hello. This is currently not possible. But you may edit the online images sources and make sure they contain only “safe” images. Perhaps disable the Wallbase sources and hand-pick some Flickr feeds containing landscapes, etc.

      I am not sure filtering skin color automatically would work well when you think about the variety of skin colors – such a method would yield way too many false positives. But I will probably give this a try at some moment, false positives are not a major issue for this use case.

  24. Work around for KDE 4.11 and up:

    mkdir .config/variety/kde
    edit ~/.config/variety/scripts/set_wallpaper

    change the line that says:
    cp “$WP” ~/.config/variety/wallpaper-kde.jpg

    cp “$WP” ~/.config/variety/kde/wallpaper-kde.jpg

    save that file and close

    In KDE instead of selecting that image as the wallpaper select the following folder as a slideshow so the wallpaper gets updated.

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.