A clearlooks popsquares desktop

Edit: Unfortunately, the images originally included in this post are gone, because of hosting problems in late 2009. My apologies.

A long time ago I was messing with xscreensaver and found you could paint the root window — the desktop — with a screensaver, and use it like an animated wallpaper image.

Most of those were fun for about 10 minutes, but then started to hurt my eyes … especially the 3D ones. I must be a wimp.

But there were a few I liked, and popsquares was one of them. That’s the one that throws up a series of blue squares and they fade between colors. It’s kind of neat.

I was experimenting with them on the Thinkpad today, and this time I set popsquares to use Tango colors, which gives it a more Clearlooks-esque color sequence.

Add this to your .xinitrc file for the same effect.

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/popsquares -root -bg "#3465a4" -fg "#729fcf" -ncolors 128

(That’s in Arch, by the way. But I think the xscreensavers should be in the same place in Ubuntu too. Other shades of Linux probably can do that too, maybe with a little path adjustment.) I used the ncolors flag because otherwise the colors seem to fade too fast, and it doesn’t have a retro effect.

There are other flags too; experiment with colors and shades and see what you come up with.

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11 Responses to “A clearlooks popsquares desktop”


  1. 1 lefty.crupps 2007/09/27 at 9:42 PM

    Interesting, but… is this Gnome? KDE? XFCE? It looks a bit GNOMEy to me but I thought Arch was a KDE distro…

  2. 2 K.Mandla 2007/09/27 at 9:56 PM

    Openbox only! Audacious and rxvt-unicode in the photo. ;)

  3. 3 Matt Neilson 2007/09/27 at 11:38 PM

    Mmmmmm…..Groove Salad! Yum!

  4. 4 Luke 2007/09/28 at 4:48 AM

    Nice! I tried to do this from within KDE but I failed miserably. Oh well. :(

  5. 5 K.Mandla 2007/09/28 at 7:57 AM

    Really? KDE must handle the desktop differently. But then again, I don’t even know if Gnome will do this. It might be a WM-only trick. I hadn’t thought about that. …

  6. 6 likeatim 2007/09/28 at 4:51 PM

    in KDE one can do that with the KDE background.
    right click on Desktop -> Desktop Settings -> Background -> Advanced
    Then use “Use this program to draw background” and enter the command above.
    It works partly – until the normal screen saver kicks in or you logged out or you went to standby – don’t know how to reactivate it again.
    And you don’t see your desktop icons…

  7. 7 Luke 2007/09/28 at 10:41 PM

    @likeatim – yup, that’s what I was trying but it didn’t work at all. I tried popsquares and glmatrix but they just refused to paint on the root window. Oh well…

  8. 8 Sunnan 2008/12/04 at 11:50 PM

    It’s because the desktop enviroments paint over the root window with their file managers.

  9. 9 Narical 2011/02/04 at 6:28 PM

    I’ve tried to use this method with cairo-compmgr, but it isn’t working. When composite is on, cairo-compmgr shows solid filled screen, i don’t know if it’s another, non-root window, or it’s some problem with sharing gl subsytem or something else

    • 10 K.Mandla 2011/02/05 at 7:40 AM

      Good question. To be honest, I don’t think I ever used them in conjunction, but my experience with xcompmgr and xscreensaver against the root window suggests it might not be something they’re prepared for. In any case, if you get it working, let me know.


  1. 1 Desktop backgrounds in window managers « urukrama’s weblog Trackback on 2007/12/05 at 12:32 PM

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