If you’ve been lusting after the colourful desktop wallpapers I’ve been using in screenshots for articles and tweets during the past month or so, this post is for you.

Quite a few of you have reached out to ask me for a link to the wallpapers you’ve glimpsed in a screenshot. You’ve also asked me where I get my wallpapers from. Rather than continuing to reply individually I figured I’d throw a quick post up here to share, and maybe reach those who did wonder but were too afraid to ask.

Plus, a post on wallpapers gives me a chance to poke a bit of fun at Ubuntu 21.04 and its ‘unique’ desktop wallpaper:

rude hippo is rude

Since the unveiling, the Ubuntu 21.04 default wallpaper has split opinion. Some see a playful hippo outline, an innocuous bit of mascot art, a little bit of fun. Others? Well, they see a pair of hairy… Let’s just call them coconuts! 🥥

In light of the (mostly humorous) hostility that the hirsute’s hallowed form has endured I figure more people than usual may be looking for an alternative desktop background 😉 – another reason to put out a quick post like this.

Ubuntu 21.04 offers just two alternative wallpapers to its contentious default canvas, both of which are also pictures of hippos. Now, I like hippos as much as the next person, but a bit of variety in the ol’ desktop background department would’ve been appreciated, ‘Buntz.

The recently-revived Ubuntu 21.10 wallpaper contest is now underway, and will ensure the next release ships with a slightly more diverse set of images out of the box. But only slightly; developers plan to select only TWO winners for inclusion on the .iso. They say it’s save room on the disc image… 💁🏻‍♂️

Still, whichever version you use, you can change Ubuntu’s desktop background to (virtually) any image file you like.

Such as these…


WallsByJFL collage
A small sample of @WallsbyJFL

My primary source of decent wallpapers is via a designer called JFL. This person creates, designs, shoots, edits, and curates a folder fill with fantastically high-res (2K minimum) backgrounds. I wish I could use all at once. It’s one of those “…no this one is my favourite… no this one… no, this one!” situations.

While JFL’s wallpapers are not licensed for redistribution (to my knowledge) his ‘free’ collection is free to download for personal use on your desktops and mobiles etc. Credit should be given to @wallsbyjfl if using his wallpapers in any of your non-wallpaper works.

Update: JFL consolidated his albums a few months after this post was written. Some of the wallpapers which were previously available freely have been removed — a shame!

Chances are if you’ve liked the look of a wallpaper in a post from the past 3 or 4 months, it features a wallpaper by JFL. You can browse through his free folder via Google Photos using the link below:

WallsbyJFL on Google Photos

If you really like JFL’s work you can subscribe to their premium album for $5 (lifetime). This gets you access to even more images, many of which you can preview on Instagram, for both mobile and desktop.

My other primary source of high-quality images that usually work well as a desktop backdrop is Unsplash. All of the images on Unsplash are free to download and use (which is great). You can print them off, cover your dog in them, sell the dog to an art installation, and then take all the credit — that kind of ‘free’.

Finally, I also have to mention the “blue smiley bubbles” wallpaper I’ve been using on/off for as long as I’ve had this blog:

Blue smiley bubbles in Fedora 34

I don’t remember the original source (and trying to ascertain it online 13 years on is just rabbit hole after rabbit hole) but you can find upscaled 2K and 4K versions available on all manner of slightly dubious sounding websites I don’t feel confident enough to link to — just search for “blue smiley face wallpaper”.

Wherever you snare your desired snap from it’s easy to change wallpaper in Ubuntu. You can do it via the Settings > Background tool; via Firefox (if you right-click on a compatible image in the browser); or via the file manager, just right-click on any compatible image file and choose the ‘set as desktop background’ image.

unsplash wallpaper wallpaper wednesday