Wallpaper / desktop background + other stuff on Linux Mint 18.1 / Cinnamon

This post was written by eli on February 20, 2017
Posted Under: cinnamon,Linux,Software

Desktop wallpaper setting

Get the current one:

$ gsettings get org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri

And set it to another:

$ gsettings set org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri 'file:///usr/share/backgrounds/linuxmint/edesigner_linuxmint.png'


  • The “file://” prefix is mandatory.
  • There also an org.gnome.desktop.background attribute. Apparently, org.cinnamon.desktop.background overrides the former.
  • For an effect on the screen, the “set” command must be run on the active console (i.e. it doesn’t work from an remote ssh session)
  • If the URI property is faulty, the actual desktop background reverts to the default, but the faulty value is shown as is with the “get” command. This is somewhat confusing. In particular, omitting the file:// prefix makes a faulty value.

A bit more with gsettings

List all keys and values related to the desktop background:

$ gsettings list-recursively org.cinnamon.desktop.background
org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri 'file:///usr/share/backgrounds/linuxmint/edesigner_linuxmint.png'
org.cinnamon.desktop.background color-shading-type 'solid'
org.cinnamon.desktop.background primary-color '#000000'
org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-options 'zoom'
org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-opacity 100
org.cinnamon.desktop.background secondary-color '#000000'

Or org.cinnamon, for that matter

$ gsettings list-recursively org.cinnamon

And there’s also “reset” for resetting a value to its default, and “monitor”, which prints a line each time the value of a key is changing.

The “org.cinnamon.desktop.background” strings is called a “schema”. These can be listed with:

$ gsettings list-schemas

Or the list of relocatable schemas (don’t ask me what “relocatable” means):

$ gsettings list-relocatable-schemas

These schemas can be found in /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/. For example, the schema for the desktop background properties can be found as /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/org.cinnamon.desktop.background.gschema.xml.

However  the XML files are not in effect directly. Rather, it’s the compiled file, /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/gschemas, generated with glib-compile-schemas.


gsetting is dconf-based, and accesses ~/.config/dconf/user binary database for obtaining non-default values. To dump all values in this database, install the dconf command-line tool:

$ sudo apt-get install dconf-cli

and then

$ dconf dump /

Or shall I be more specific?

$ dconf dump /org/cinnamon/desktop/background/

Note that running “gsettings reset” on a key removes it from the dconf database:

$ gsettings reset org.cinnamon.desktop.background picture-uri
$ dconf dump /org/cinnamon/desktop/background/

(no output)

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