Nitrogen: A Background Setter For Lightweight Desktop Manager

Gnome, KDE and XFCE users will have no problem changing the wallpaper on their desktop. However, if you are using a lightweight desktop manager such Openbox or Fluxbox, you will find that there is no way that you can set the wallpaper for your desktop. In this case, Nitrogen will come in handy.

Nitrogen is a simple, lightweight application that allows you to change the background of your desktop. Some of its key features include support for Multihead and Xinerama, a recall mode that can remember the last wallpaper set and command line mode for script use.

If you are using Ubuntu 8.10 (with Openbox) or any other debian-based system, here is how you install and configure Nitrogen.

In your terminal,

sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

add this two lines to the end of the file.

deb intrepid main
deb-src intrepid main

Press Ctrl + O to save the file and Ctrl + X to close the file.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install nitrogen

This should install Nitrogen on your system.

Setting background wallpaper

Assume that your wallpaper folder is at “/home/username/wallpaper”.

In the terminal, type

nitrogen ~/wallpaper

A window will pop up showing all the wallpaper in the folder. Pick the one that you want to set as background image and click Apply.


That’s it

To get it to autostart everytime you log in, in your terminal,

nano ~/.config/openbox/

Paste this into the end of the file

nitrogen --restore &

If the “” file does not exist, you will have to manually create one before you can carry out the above step.


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox