I would like an animated background image. Or better, to make an application be the background, with no interactivity, so I don't accidentally click on it.

I've seen many discussions about setting images as background, but is there a way to set an arbitrary application as the background window?

I've found this Gifsice snippet on the Arch BBS: gifsicle --animate --new-window root someAnimatedGif.gif but it just opened a regular window (I'm using i3 with LightDM on Arch).

I've tried executing it when i3 starts (same result as running it from xterm) and putting it in .Xinitrc, which produced nothing.

How/where should I run gifview and is it possible to use another application, such as VLC, as the background window and why does gifview --new-window root not change the root?

  • It may depend on Window-Manager, Desktop-system (Kde, gnome, fwm, etc). Kde, and some others, add a window above the root, but behind everything else. Commented Aug 5, 2015 at 21:39
  • so the root window can be placed in front of other windows if the WM puts it there? this also doesn't really answer whether the root can be any window of any program
    – Rain Gloom
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 1:26
  • That is not what I Wrote. I said that some desktop-systems put a windows covering the root window. Therefore the root does not have to be the background. This is not the same as the root can be in front, the root is always behind all others. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 12:48
  • What is it that you are trying to do? Tell us without the jargon. Are you trying to write to the background, copy the background to somewhere else, or something else. Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 12:50
  • 1
    Based on your link I think you are trying to change the background image, possibly you are trying to have an animation as background. From also your question I think you are trying to make an application be the background, probably with no interactivity. Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 13:53

1 Answer 1


I use the following in ~/.config/i3/config:

exec /usr/bin/gifview  --animate -w root /path/to/image.gif

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