There are two kinds of people: those who don’t care about their desktop wallpaper and those who obsessively search for the perfect one. Which one are you?
If—like me—you spend hours browsing various wallpaper websites even though your collection is already gigabyte-sized, Wpmaker is a tool that’s right up your alley. Granted, there are many wallpaper tools available for Linux, but they’re all very similar: they either cycle through your wallpapers or pull images from an online source, and add a clock and some effects on top.
Wpmaker is different, and it’s particularly suitable for users with large wallpaper collections who like to change their wallpaper often. It uses plugins based on PyGame (a set of Python modules) to resize and crop the images from a folder and generate a collage, which is then set as your desktop wallpaper. Collages are quite a popular way to display images, especially on Instagram, so if you’ve ever wanted to turn your desktop into a collage, now you can do it with Wpmaker in three easy steps.
1. Get the Dependencies Right
Wpmaker runs on Windows, OS X and Linux, with some limitations. The Linux version (which I’ve tested) works only if your desktop environment is GNOME or LXDE. There aren’t any packages or repositories for Wpmaker; you simply unpack the compressed file and run the Python application in the terminal. Downloads are available on the project website and on their GitHub page, but I strongly recommend choosing the “Source code” download instead of “Linux”, since the latter refused to start on my computer.
Before starting Wpmaker, make sure you have all the necessary dependencies. You’ll need Python 2.7, Pygame, and wxPython. They should be available in the repositories of your Linux distribution. However, there are two components you’ll most likely have to install manually.
First you need pip, Python’s package manager. In Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, Arch Linux, openSUSE and Mageia, you’ll find it in the repositories as
python-pip. The next step is installing the components from the terminal. Make sure to run the
pip install command with root privileges:
pip install docopt
pip install appdirs
Now you can unzip the Wpmaker file into a desired directory and navigate to it in the terminal. If everything went well, typing
./wpmaker.py should start the application.
2. Set Up Wpmaker
On first run, Wpmaker will prompt you to select a folder with wallpapers, and place its icon into the tray area on the panel. Clicking the icon opens a small menu with basic options.
Here you can choose which collage plugins will be activated and how often your wallpaper will change. Whenever you click “Generate”, a new collage will be created. You can also pause Wpmaker if it generates a collage you particularly like.
However, there’s another way to configure Wpmaker—by editing the configuration file. You can do this before you even start Wpmaker for the first time. Just type
./wpmaker.py --help to see where it keeps the configuration file:
Armed with this knowledge, open the configuration file and tweak the parameters. The developer provided a short guide on the project website. You can manually set the resolution if it’s not properly detected and change how many times Wpmaker should split images to create grids.
keep option lets you save a designated amount of generated collages. Leaving it at zero will overwrite the previous collage each time a new one is created. But if you choose to save collages, you can use Wpmaker as an all-purpose collage maker: just feed it some images and press “Generate” until it creates a grid you like.
On my LXDE system, I had to add the
set-wallpaper = lxde line, because without it Wpmaker wasn’t able to change the wallpaper. This might be due to a local misconfiguration, but if something similar happens to you, it’s a trick worth trying.
3. Let the Magic Happen
So you’ve set up everything and Wpmaker is scheduled to change your wallpaper, say, every five minutes. What does your desktop look like?
The beauty of Wpmaker is that it looks different every time. Sometimes it will show just one image, sometimes four of them, and other times a dozen little pictures neatly nested in a grid. This element of surprise is Wpmaker’s most rewarding feature, and the one that gives your desktop a unique quality. It gets even better if you configure Wpmaker to run at startup of your LXDE or GNOME session. That way it can take over wallpaper management without any need for manual intervention from you.
Other great features are the fact that Wpmaker is cross-platform, and that, compared to other similar tools, it doesn’t have too many dependencies. However, on Linux you can only use it with GNOME and LXDE, and currently it’s not possible to add more than one folder with images. Considering that Wpmaker is a one-man project, these flaws are easy to forgive. Users skilled in Python are welcome to contribute to Wpmaker and develop their own collage plugins, all in the spirit of open source.
How’s Your Desktop Now?
To busy people who don’t spend much time looking at their wallpaper, Wpmaker might seem trivial, if not unnecessary. Still, anyone who enjoys customizing their desktop will surely find Wpmaker entertaining, because it can produce truly wonderful collages.
Now that you’ve set up the perfect desktop wallpaper, why not share it with us in the comments? We’d love the inspiration!
Image Credits: Wpmaker Screenshot Gallery by loktacar