Back in 2007, I wrote an article about weather-wallpaper, a GNOME applet that takes weather information from the Internet and changes your Desktop wallpaper accordingly. It was a slick little utility, but unfortunately the images used weren’t all that fantastic. But it was pretty much all that was available for GNOME users wanting to customize their wallpaper to show the weather conditions outside. Thankfully, a new utility called WeatherPaper has emerged, and while you may still not find yourself completely enamored with the default selection of images, it is a whole lot more customizable.
To install WeatherPaper, simply download the archive from the project’s homepage at Google Code. Once it’s unpacked, navigate to the new folder, then in a Terminal simply type the following:
sudo sh install.sh
You should find two new entries in your applications menu under Accessories. One is WeatherPaper and the other is WP Settings Editor. You’ll first need to enter in your location. While it would be simple if this was your zip code, you’ll need the code Yahoo weather uses, so simply go to weather.yahoo.com and enter in your city of zip code. Choose to view the extended forecast next, at which point you’re taken to a Weather Channel page. In the URL you’ll find a code, eight digits long. Mine looks like this:
Basically, at least to my best guess, that means I’m in the United States, in Iowa, and “0137” probably is just the designation for Cedar Falls, where I’m currently located. Regardless, type this number into the WeatherPaper Settings Editor to get things started. While you’re in the settings editor you can also choose the theme (it only comes with one, but we’ll get back to that in a minute), as well as how often to check for new weather conditions, whether to use Fahrenheit or Kelci’s, and if you want to force WeatherPaper to consider certain temperatures hot or cold. You can also choose to start WeatherPaper by default when your system starts up. Now, simply click Apply, and in a few seconds you’ll see a new wallpaper appear with a picture representing the weather, along with the weather information in the upper-right corner of the screen.
The one thing that puts WeatherPaper far ahead of other options such as weather-wallpaper is how customizable it is. Beyond the settings we just discussed, you can create your own set of wallpapers if you don’t like the default set. In fact, the WeatherPaper website has a tutorial for just that thing, found here:
If you’re not up to writing out the wallpapers.xml and overlay.xml, you could also tweak the default set to your liking, by substituting the standard wallpapers for ones you’ve found online (or pictures you’ve taken yourself). In the future it will likely get even simpler, as the WeatherPaper website also has (in the Wiki section) a link that will eventually point to a list of additional weather packs. Unfortunately, that section is currently empty, but that will likely change.
All in all, WeatherPaper is a really nice tweak for your system. For people buried in a cubicle in the middle of an office building, it can be nice to get a “glimpse” of what’s happening outside. Or even if your computer is right by a window, it’s nice to have a little variety, and the weather information overlayed above the wallpaper itself is also useful. It may not be for everyone, but if you’ve been looking for something like this and you use GNOME Linux, it’s definitely worth your time.