icewmbg - Man Page

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 RandR or Xinerama 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.

icewmbg is started automatically by icewm-session(1).


Specific Options

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).

-p,  --replace

Replace an existing icewmbg. If there is a running icewmbg, it is instructed to quit.  The new icewmbg will take over.

-q,  --quit

Tell the running icewmbg to quit. This option is used by icewm-session(1) when icewm(1) exits.

-r,  --restart

Tell the running icewmbg to restart itself.  This is useful when a background file or directory has changed, or when settings in preferences files have changed.

-u,  --shuffle

Shuffle the list of background images randomly. This option may be given again whenever the running icewmbg should reshuffle its list of background images.

-c,  --config=FILE

Load preferences from FILE.

-t,  --theme=THEME

Load the theme named THEME.

-i,  --image=FILE[,FILE]*

Load background images from each FILE. This overrules the DesktopBackgroundImage preference.

-k,  --color=COLOR[,COLOR]*

Use background colours from each COLOR. This overrules the DesktopBackgroundColor preference.

-s,  --semis=FILE[,FILE]*

Load transparency images from each FILE. This overrules the DesktopTransparencyImage preference.

-x,  --trans=NAME[,NAME]

Use transparency colours for each NAME. This overrules the DesktopTransparencyColor preference.

-e,  --center={0|1}

Disable/Enable centring background. This overrules the DesktopBackgroundCenter preference.

-a,  --scaled={0|1}

Disable/Enable scaling background. This overrules the DesktopBackgroundScaled preference.

-m,  --multi={0|1}

Disable or enable a single background over all monitors. This overrules the DesktopBackgroundMultihead preference.

-y,  --cycle=SECONDS

Cycle over the list of background images every SECONDS. This overrules the CycleBackgroundsPeriod preference.

General Options

-d,  --display=DISPLAY

Use DISPLAY to connect to the X server. If this option is missing then DISPLAY is read from the environment variable DISPLAY.

-h,  --help

Print a brief usage statement to stdout and exit.

-V,  --version

Print the program version to stdout and exit.

-C,  --copying

Print copying permissions to stdout for the program and exit.


Use a slower synchronous mode communication with X11 server.



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).

Image Scaling

Often a background image has a different width or height than the screen. The image can then be replicated (tiled), centered or scaled. This is controlled by DesktopBackgroundCenter and DesktopBackgroundScaled. 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:


icewmbg will restart itself.


icewmbg will terminate.


icewmbg will reshuffle the list of background images and update the backgrounds of all work spaces.

See Also

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


Please report bugs at <>.


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.

Referenced By

icewm(1), icewm-preferences(5), icewm-session(1).

2021-08-07 icewm 2.7.0