Spruce Up Your Linux Desktop with Screenlets

Tim Brookes 03-11-2010

linux screenletsMaking better use of your desktop 5 Great Tips and Tools For a Clean and Minimalist Mac Desktop Read More is all the rage these days. Windows users have Desktop Gadgets Top 7 Coolest Windows 7 Desktop Gadgets You Have To Use Gadgets are always cool to have. They add functionality to your desktop and generally make your life easier. Last but not least, they help you express your individuality. Read More and Mac OS X users have Dashboard Dashboard Widgets You Can't Live Without [Mac Only] Read More and its associated widgets.


There’s no reason Linux users can’t join the party too, and thanks to Screenlets you can pimp your desktop and make the most of that unused space. Once installed you can then choose from the many in-built widgets or download community-made contributions.

If you’ve already got an awesome theme, sexy dock and a set of icons to die for then Screenlets might just add that last bit of sparkle to your Linux desktop.

What Do They Do?

Screenlets simply enhances your desktop by providing access to useful organisational tools, web clips and system information. It can be anything from a basic clock that sits in the corner to a weather widget The 7 Best Sites to Download Weather Widgets for Your Blog or Website Want a weather widget on your website or blog? Keep reading as we take a look at some of the best weather widgets you can embed. Read More or your unread email count.

linux screenlets


These are perfect for adding extra functionality to a drab desktop. The customization possibilities are somewhat endless – you can choose where to put them, whether to lock them, display them on multiple desktops or simply have one desktop solely dedicated to these oh-so-useful widgets.

The current Screenlets release has support for widgets written for other platforms as well, including SuperKaramba themes, web widgets and Google Desktop Gadgets 7 Must-Have Google Desktop Gadgets for Productivity Read More .

If you want eye candy and an endless stream of sexy looking widgets on your desktop then Screenlets are probably for you.


You can download the latest stable release for your particular operating system right here [No Longer Available], or if you’re running Ubuntu can choose to install straight from the command line.


Simply open a new Terminal window (Applications, Accessories and then Terminal) and type:

sudo apt-get install screenlets

screenlets workspace

You will be prompted for your password, and then warned about how much space will be required. Hit “y” then Enter and Screenlets will be installed.

Once you’ve downloaded and installed you can launch the tool and start adding to your desktop by navigating your way to Applications, Accessories and then choosing Screenlets.



The main configuration window is fairly self-explanatory. All your available widgets are visible in the right-hand pane, and any you download and install from now on will appear alongside these. If you want to add a widget simply click it and then click Launch/Add.

screenlets workspace

There’s a handy search panel in case you end up installing hundreds and need quick access and the Options button will bring up a menu allowing you to specify the default attributes for each new item added to your desktop.

Once you’ve added a Screenlet you can then right click to bring up a menu allowing you to customize its behaviour. By choosing Properties you will be able to scale, add transparency, decide whether to stick it to every desktop (that’s Sticky, by the way) or lock it in place (with Lock) amongst other options.


screenlets workspace

If your widget has multiple themes (and most of the in-built offerings do) then you can also change the look from this menu.

I’d personally recommend the Terminal widget which embeds a Terminal window directly into your background and Sysmonitor which lets you know exactly what your machine is up to.

Download More Widgets

You’re undoubtedly going to get bored with what’s included, so if you’re after some more widgets here’s a few resources to get you started: – Screenlets
Widgets designed purely for use with Screenlets. – SuperKaramba Themes
KDE-Look’s dedicated category of SuperKaramba Themes, which are fully compatible with Screenlets.

Google Desktop Gadgets
Google’s official repository for their Desktop Gadgets project.

With these three resources at your disposal you have access to literally thousands of potential widgets. To install a widget simply open Screenlets, click the Install button and select the file you have just downloaded. It should now be available for selection from the pane on the right.

Those of you daring enough to have a go at creating your own will probably benefit from reading this guide [Broken URL Removed] at the official wiki.

If you enjoyed this article you might enjoy my previous article about spicing up the rest of your Linux workspace 6 Ways to Speed Up the GNOME Desktop GNOME is the desktop interface you get on most Linux distributions. Want to speed things up? These tweaks will improve your GNOME experience. Read More and our round-up of the best Linux docks 5 Power Docks For Your Linux Machine Perhaps you've switched to Linux from macOS; or perhaps you just like the idea of a dock. Whichever it is, these five desktop docks for Linux will help you to improve your productivity. Read More no money can buy.

Do you use Screenlets? Got any favourite widgets floating around your desktop? Let us know all about it in the comments.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 4:20 am

    apt-get is easier to demonstrate in a tutorial and much faster.

  2. Ubuntuandstuff
    November 16, 2010 at 5:20 am

    apt-get is easier to demonstrate in a tutorial and much faster.

  3. Alaukik
    November 8, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    You know you can probably install screenlets from the software center so why you prefer crap-get

    • Tim Brookes
      November 8, 2010 at 1:43 pm

      I think it's quicker, personally.

  4. Marc23
    November 4, 2010 at 3:23 am

    Great Post. What icon theme are you using in the first picture?

    • Tim Brookes
      November 4, 2010 at 10:10 am

      Glad you liked it, the icon set (according to Ubuntu) is Elegant-AwOken.

      • Aibek
        November 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm

        nice theme

      • Jacky Graviti Alcine
        November 6, 2010 at 6:49 pm

        I love that icon set; I had it for a while now. Nothing comes to it.