We love the idea of Generative Wallpapers – self-updating ever-changing backgrounds – here on OMG! Ubuntu! and, seemingly, so do you!

Reader Aziz got in touch with a fantastic regenerative wallpaper of his own, inspired by an earlier article of ours on intelligent boot-splashes.

Speaking on the creation behind it he says: –

“I have forever been fascinated with cellular automata and in particular, Conway’s Game of Life. Though I was never a fan of biology in school, there was always something hypnotic about watching bacteria multiply. So for my implementation, instead of a randomness, the evolution follows the rules of Conway’s Game of Life.”

Cellular automata is the simulation of simple life forms. There are rules for growth, survival and decay. Aziz’s generative wallpaper uses ‘Conway’s Game of Life’, a form of cellular automata based on four simple rules:

  1. Any live cell with less than two live neighbours dies (as if by under-population).
  2. Any live cell with more than three live neighbours dies (as if by over-population).
  3. Any dead cell with exactly three live neighbours becomes a live cell (as if by reproduction).
  4. Any live cell with two or three neighbours lives on with no change in state.


The wallpaper is generated from a simple python script which generates images based on configurations you can specify in the ‘config.py’ file. When run it generates an .XML file which can be set in Ubuntu as your desktop wallpaper.

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You’ll find the files and information needed to get up and running @ github.com/azizmb/Game-of-Life-Wallpaper


Noting that ‘this is his first experiment with scientific python tools SciPy and Numpy as well as with the Python Imaging Library (PIL) he’s keen to receive feedback  and/or suggestions on his work.

In particular he notes that he would appreciate  help on ‘how to filter the image to make the colour gradations look better’.

Download Wallpaper quirkywallpaper