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Set a Real Time Photo of Earth as Your Linux Desktop Wallpaper

real earth live wallpaper for Linux

Bored of looking at the same desktop background? Here’s something that’s (almost) out of this world. 

Himawaripy‘ is a small Python 3 script that fetches a near-real time picture of Earth taken by the Japanese Himawari 8 weather satellite and sets it as your desktop background.

Once installed you can set the app to run as a cron job every 10 minutes (in the background, naturally) so that it can fetch and set a realtime picture of Earth as your desktop wallpaper.

Because Himawari-8 is a geostationary satellite you’re only ever going to images of the earth as seen from above Australasia — but with real time weather patterns, cloud formations and lighting it’s still makes for spectacular scene, even if seeing things above the UK would be better for me!

Advanced settings allow you to configure the quality of the images pulled from the satellite , but keep in mind that any increase in quality will result in an increased file size, and a longer download wait!

Lastly, while this script is very similar to many others that we’ve covered over the years it is up-to-date and working.

Get Himawaripy

Himawaripy has been tested on a range of desktop environments, including Unity, LXDE, i3, MATE and a host of other desktop environments. It is free, open-source software but is not entirely straightforward to set up and configure.

Find all instructions on getting the app installed and set up (hint: there’s no one-click installer) on the project’s GitHub page.

Real time earth wallpaper script on GitHub

Install & Use

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 16.46.13

A few readers asked me to update this post with a line-by-line guide to using the app. All the steps are on the main Github page, but here they are anyway.

1. Download & Extract Himawaripy

Well this is the easiest step. Hit the download button below to grab the latest build of the script, and then extract it to your Downloads folder.

Download Himawaripy Master (.zip)

2. Install python3-setuptools

You’ll need to install this package manually as it does not come pre-installed on Ubuntu:

sudo apt install python3-setuptools

3. Install Himawaripy

In the Terminal app you need to ‘cd’ into the folder you extracted earlier and run the following install command:

cd ~/Downloads/himawaripy-master
sudo python3 setup.py install

4. Check it’s running and download the latest real-time image by running:

himawaripy

5. Set up a cron job

This step is needed if you wish for the script to run and update automatically in the background (if you’d rather you can update it manually by running ‘himarwaripy’ at any time)

In the terminal run:

crontab -e

Add the following new line (default is every 10 minutes)

*/10 * * * * /usr/local/bin/himawaripy

The Ubuntu Wiki has detailed information on configuring cron.

You won’t need to keep running once you’ve checked that the app has installed. It will run automatically, every 10-minutes or so in the background.