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Desktop background setter with emphasis on image processing (liquid rescale, label).
Python Shell
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Aura - clever desktop background setter tool for art appreciators


"aura" tool is a desktop (X root window) background setter, capable of:

  • picking image randomly from specified paths;

  • skipping too small images and images with too different aspect rate;

  • rescaling it in a clever ways (crop solid margins, resize with cubic, then liquid rescale algorithm) to fit the desktop with as little quality loss as possible;

  • labelling images (that is, rendering the label in the corner) using embedded tags;

  • daemonizing to pick new image on a time-basis or when triggered (by SIGHUP or cli);

  • keeping track of used images, blacklisting.

Intended usage is to point it to the path(s) with random image collection(s) and let it adjust any suitable ones to the current screen size. It has no gui and no capabilities to dowload images from anywhere.

See old project homepage for more details.


While "aura" script is pure bash, all image manipulations are performed from a python script ("") using gimp's python-fu.

Thus, some stuff must be installed for the tool to work:

Everything aside from gimp-lqr-plugin is probably present in any decent desktop linux system.

Optional stuff (will be used if available):

These are probably best to get with the distro package manager.

Project releases can be downloaded from this page, just one latest .tar.gz will do.

Tarball can be extracted with regular double-click from some GUI (like GNOME Nautilus shell, KDE Dolphin, XFCE Thunar, etc), tapping enter on it inside midnight commander or typing "tar xf /path/to/aura-X.Y.tar.gz" in some shell. Inside there are two files beside the ubiquitous "README" - "" and "aura".

Alternatively, newer sources can be checked-out from github repository.

Actual "installation" is needed for the gimp plugin (, which should be put into one of gimp plugin directories, like "~/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins/" (another option is usually "/usr/lib/gimp/2.0/plug-ins", but your mileage may vary across distros, read the gimp/distro docs if in doubt) and be marked as executable. Here's what I mean:

mkdir -p ~/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins/
cp ~/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins/
chmod +x ~/.gimp-2.8/plug-ins/

Bash script itself ("aura") will work from any path, just run it.


To quote the command itself:

~% aura -h
Usage: paths... --favepick directory ( -d | --daemon ) [ --no-fork ] [ --no-init ] paths... [ -n | --next ] [ -c | --current ] \
    [ -f | --fave ] [ -b | --blacklist ] [ -k | --kill ] [ -h | --help ]

Set background image, randomly selected from the specified paths.
Option --favepick makes it weighted-random among fave-list (see also --fave).
Blacklisted paths never get picked (see --blacklist).

Optional --daemon flag starts instance in the background (unless --no-fork is
also specified), and picks/sets a new image on start (unless --no-init is specified),
and every 10800s afterwards.

Some options (or their one-letter equivalents) can be given instead of paths to
control already-running instance (started with --daemon flag):
  --next       cycle to then next background immediately.
  --fave       give +1 rating (used with --favepick) to current background image.
  --blacklist  add current background to blacklist (skip it from now on).
  --kill       stop currently running instance.
  --current    echo current background image name
  --help       this text

Various paths and parameters are specified in the beginning of this script.

...and mentioned "beginning of this script" is:

~% head -50 aura

### Options start

interval=$(( 3 * 3600 )) # 3h
recheck=$(( 3600 )) # 1h
activity_timeout=$(( 30 * 60 )) # 30min
max_log_size=$(( 1024 * 1024 )) # 1M, current+last files are kept

gimp_cmd="nice ionice -c3 gimp"


# Resets sleep timer in daemon (if running) after oneshot script invocation
delay_daemon_on_oneshot_change=true # empty for false

[[ -r ~/.aurarc ]] && source ~/.aurarc

### Options end

Note that any of the option defaults listed there can be overidden in ~/.aurarc file, e.g. to enable caching for rescaled images and change cache size/cleanup, put these lines there:

cache_cleanup_keep=$(( 1000 * 2**20 ))

Also, see the beginning of a python plugin (lqr_wpset) for some image processing options. As mentioned there, these can be overidden via LQR_WPSET_* env vars.

Script can be enabled for desktop session by putting something like aura -d ~/media/picz into ~/.xinitrc, or via whatever systemd user session unit.


Images used in html documentation are subject to a copyright and used with author's permission.

Code is released under a permissive WTFPL license, feel free to hack and reuse it as you see fit.


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