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On Ubuntu 10.4 with NVIDIA drivers I have dual monitors setup with TwinView. How do I configure a single wallpaper to span both monitors? Right now the same wallpaper is replicated on both monitors.

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Yes it's Ubuntu 10.4 LTS Lucid Lynx – Andrew Redd Sep 30 '10 at 16:27
up vote 6 down vote accepted

You can't. Lucid Lynx (your Ubuntu version) has lost this capability, and a bug has been filed.


Seems like there is a temporary fix already. Hope this helps:

  1. Set desired wallpaper as you usually do
  2. Execute this command in the console:
    gconftool-2 --set "/desktop/gnome/background/picture_options" --type string "spanned"
  3. Do the dance
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Update for future searchers: As of Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick), you now have the "Span" option in the Appearance/Wallpaper Control Panel. For best results, be sure to create your wallpaper to be the exact pixels of your displays combined.

E.g. for two 1280x1024 monitors, use a wallpaper with size 2560 x 1024 -- otherwise it will scale and center your wallpaper to fit.

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The discussion on the bug cited by Andrejs Cainikovs seems to suggest that “span” doesn't work as desired (the wallpaper is not dimensioned properly) in either lucid or maverick. Does your experience suggest otherwise? Does this depend on the dual monitor mechanism (Xinerama, Twinview, …)? – Gilles Jan 20 '11 at 21:56
The discussion of that bug is kind of all over the place. Someone claimed "I mean a silly work around is use GIMP to resize the wallpaper you want to put into the exact total screen solutions." I think the gist of it is that these people want an arbitrarily sized image to scale and span exactly how they want it. But what I'm saying is that you can create the image to the right size so the software doesn't need to adjust it. I don't think it is dependent on Xinerama or Twinview. – Michael Butler Feb 3 '11 at 20:04
I'm a future searcher. thx for the info ;) – Tovi7 Feb 7 '12 at 8:59

I have posted a script over in the Ubuntu forums and linux questions forums that addresses this problem (at least in my case) that uses imagemagick to resize 2 background images and stitch them together, and then change the background on a timer. Both images are random from an index file the script creates.

In my case it is for Twinview where both monitors are at the same resolution.


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You can use display from imagemagick to set the wallpaper image to whatever screen position you like, for example:

display -window root -geometry '-0-0' -resize '1920x1080> img.png
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The feh utility will allow you to set backgrounds in this manner if you use the --no-xinerama flag.

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