One of the great aspects of Linux is the customization that users can adopt to make their experience unique, and one of the easiest customization features is that of the desktop, with wallpapers. Usually, setting a wallpaper is as simple as right-clicking on the Desktop to bring up the Wallpaper manager and making a choice, but what if you have multiple monitors and would like a different image on each?
Release the Hydra! (paper)
HydraPaper is a slick tool that lets you set a different background on each monitor within the GNOME desktop. It is built with the GTK toolset which means that compatibility should be good, as will downloading the necessary dependencies. The application also supports MATE and Budgie desktops, but for this article we are concerned with GNOME.
By far the easiest way to install HydraPaper is via Flatpak and FlatHub.
To install Flatpak on Ubuntu, open a Terminal, add the PPA, and type the following commands:
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:alexlarsson/flatpak
Once this is done, then update to load the new repository and install with the following:
sudo apt-get update && apt-get install gnome-software-plugin-flatpak
After this is complete, if you decide to use FlatHub (which makes things easier) then add the repository:
sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Now restart your system.
Flatpak apps will be available within the Ubuntu Software Center. Search for HydraPaper, and it should appear. When it does, then simply click to install as you would any other package in Ubuntu.
Additionally, Flatpak is now supported in several major distributions, meaning it is widely accessible to users. You can find full instructions for your distribution of choice here.
Ready, Set … Wallpaper!
Once installed, the application can be found in the normal Applications menu. Click on it to start as you would any other application. When it opens, the images within your Pictures folder will be displayed, which is the default location. Should you wish to change this, you can.
Add your own folders where you keep images, and then these can be used. However, one caveat is that the application doesn’t dig down into your folders for nested folders and the images within them. Only those within the top folder will be selected.
One great aspect of the application is the ease of use.
By clicking on the icon in the upper-left corner, you can choose your image folders. Then once these are loaded, it is just a case of clicking the wallpaper that you want on the respective monitor. HydraPaper will also identify the monitors that are connected and distinguish between them based on their connection type. As you can see below, it supports HDMI, DVI and others.
HydraPaper will also remember the wallpaper selections that you pick between reboots.
At this point it seems HydraPaper is pretty flawless. However, it is not all great news. There are times when HydraPaper tends to combine wallpapers that have previously been used across separate monitors into one image. This happens when you remove the external monitor or if your connection somehow fails. It joins them together, which can look fairly garish if you have two contrasting images creating a split-screen effect.
Neither does the application support more than two monitors. For this you would need an alternative solution such as Syncwall. Unfortunately, the only place I could find online was here and mainly for Ubuntu-based systems.
Should you desire, you can uninstall HydraPaper by entering the following in the Terminal:
sudo flatpak uninstall org.gabmus.hydrapaper
So what do you think? Is HydraPaper going to be the way that you pick your wallpapers from now on, or do you have a much easier or perhaps effective method? Let us know in the comments section.
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