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icewmbg - a background settings manager for the IceWM window manager


icewmbg [OPTIONS]


icewmbg can assign a colour or image to the X11 desktop background. Many image formats are supported. Each icewm(1) work space can have its own background.

When the background image has changed then icewmbg can be notified to update the background. When switching work spaces it checks the image file modification time. If the file has changed then it reloads the background image from file.

icewmbg supports semi-transparency. Semitransparent background images and colours can be configured. If these are not specified then the default background is used.

It uses XINERAMA and RANDR to support backgrounds on all connected monitors. When monitors appear/disappear or change their resolution icewmbg will adjust. It supports an option for one large background over all monitors.

It will update the _ICEWMBG_IMAGE property of the root window to the path of the background image whenever it changes the desktop background.

It should be started before icewm(1), preferably by the icewm-session(1) program.



Where multiple values can be given for images or colours they are separated by commas. Each such value may be enclosed in double quotes. When FILE is a directory then all images from that directory are used in sorted order. If the value starts with an exclamation mark, as in !FILE, then the images from the directory FILE are permuted randomly. Image file names or directory names may have wildcards, which will be expanded according to glob(7).




By default icewmbg will load the background settings from the icewm(1) preferences files (see icewm-preferences(5)). The settings read are:

DesktopBackgroundCenter    - Display desktop background centered
DesktopBackgroundScaled    - Display desktop background scaled
DesktopBackgroundColor     - Desktop background color(s)
DesktopBackgroundImage     - Desktop background image(s)
ShuffleBackgroundImages    - Shuffle the list of background images
SupportSemitransparency    - Support for semitransparent terminals
DesktopTransparencyColor   - Semitransparency background color(s)
DesktopTransparencyImage   - Semitransparency background image(s)
DesktopBackgroundMultihead - One background over all monitors
CycleBackgroundsPeriod     - Seconds between cycling over backgrounds

First these settings are read from the preferences file. Then the theme file from the current theme is read, which may overrule the preferences settings. Lastly the prefoverride file is read, which overrides again. Therefore, if you want to allow the theme to set the background use preferences for your settings, otherwise use prefoverride. See icewm-prefoverride(5).


Often a background image has a different width or height than the screen. The settings can specify to centre (DesktopBackgroundCenter) or scale (DesktopBackgroundScaled) an image. Either option is either 0 (disabled) or 1 (enabled). What happens for their combination is given by the following table:

center:0 scaled:0 = the background is replicated in both directions
center:1 scaled:0 = the background is centered, but not scaled
center:1 scaled:1 = fill one dimension and preserve the aspect ratio
center:0 scaled:1 = fill both dimensions and preserve the aspect ratio


icewmbg supports the following signals:


icewm(1), icewm-preferences(5), icewm-prefoverride(5), wmsetbg(1), xsetbg(1), xv(1).


icewmbg had no known bugs at the time of release. Please report bugs for current versions to the source code repository at Github.


Brian Bidulock.

See –copying for full copyright notice and copying permissions.


IceWM is licensed under the GNU Library General Public License. See the COPYING file in the distribution or use the –copying flag to display copying permissions.

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