For starters let me point out that you can find ready made Xsplash screens (as boot splash screens are called) on gnome-look, ubuntu-art and other such sites which we have discussed about so many times before. That being said there is a different joy and sense of accomplishment seeing a custom made boot splash screen and theme in action. Not to mention the personal touch you can put in. You can use your photos, put in your name or tag line, a motivational quote and what not. This is a great thing about Linux that I truly adore, you can chip in with code, with themes, with translations or just about any other thing you might want to change in the Operating System to suit your needs. In this article we will focus on the boot splash screen. I am using Ubuntu to demonstrate the steps but the tutorial would work for any distribution using xsplash.
Before Karmic Koala, Ubuntu used usplash to display the progress bar you saw when Ubuntu boots. Customizing Usplash, while very much possible, was a very involved task. With Karmic, Ubuntu now uses Xsplash which uses images as the background and is comparatively a lot easier to customize and tweak to your needs. You can change the background image, the “Ubuntu” text as well as the throbber that is displayed when Karmic boots up. Let’s start with the background image first.
By default Ubuntu displays a brown background with what looks like a spotlight behind the Ubuntu logo. We are going to change all that. If you have ever poked around your /usr directory (which you should) you must have noticed that this brown image we talked about is located at /usr/share/images/xsplash directory. Open it up and have a look inside the said directory, which would reveal that the same image has been made available in different resolutions. This is to make sure that the boot splash screen is displayed well irrespective of the screen size and resolution
Now, there are two ways you can change the Xsplash background image:
Option 1 requires that you know the screen resolution that is being used, you can then change only the image that corresponds to the resolution that is being used. This is trickier than it seems, because the resolution that is being used while you are working on the desktop may or may not be the same when Ubuntu displays the Xsplash screen.
So a better bet would be to use Option 2, in which you change images for all the resolutions. This way Ubuntu will use your custom image no matter what resolution it uses.
Changing the images is easy. You can use GIMP. Go under the Image menu and choose scale. Key in the required numbers, keep the ratio intact. If you don’t get the exact numbers, go for slightly larger values but keep the ratio intact. I suggest you back up all the images in /usr/share/images/xsplash into another folder on your hard drive just in case things go wrong. Then put the required file(s) into /usr/share/images/xsplash. That is it, no editing of configuration files required. The next time you boot up, you should see your custom xsplash background.
You can also customize the logo or add your own, all it requires is a little extra effort. You have to mind the positioning of the logo and the alpha transparency. In any case, if you are not familiar with the concept you can continue using the default logo. This is how it looks with what we have done so far:
If you want to go another step forward, you can create your own text or logo and save it inside /usr/share/images/xsplash with appropriate names (see image below). You will have to create different sizes depending upon the resolution so its best to start with a larger image and then you can always scale it down.
Go ahead play with the images. If you are not the one who would spend time creating images from scratch inside GIMP, you can always start with a high resolution wallpaper or photo, add your own elements to it and then scale it down to the required sizes.
What custom-made Linux boot splash screens have you made? Let us know all about them – and how you made them – in the comments.