Nitrogen & Feh

Nitrogen is a fast and lightweight desktop background browser and setter for X windows. It comes as a default application with ArchLabs so installation is not required.


Run nitrogen –help for full details. The following examples will get you started:

Setting a Wallpaper:

To view and set the desired wallpaper from a specific directory recursively, run:

$ nitrogen /path/to/image/directory/

To view and set the desired wallpaper from a specific directory non-recursively, run:

$ nitrogen --no-recurse /path/to/image/directory/

Restoring a Wallpaper:

To restore the chosen wallpaper during subsequent sessions, add to your Openbox autostart (~.config/openbox/autostart) the following command: nitrogen –restore &


feh is an X11 image viewer aimed mostly at console users. Unlike most other viewers, it does not have a fancy GUI, but simply displays images. It is controlled via commandline arguments and configurable key/mouse actions.


Install feh from Extra.


feh is highly configurable. For a full list of options, run feh –help or see the feh man page.

Browsing Images:

To quickly browse images in a specific directory, you can launch feh with the following arguments:

$ feh -g 640x480 -d -S filename /path/to/directory

  • The -g flag forces the images to appear no larger than 640x480
  • The -d flag draws the file name
  • The -S filename flag sorts the images by file name

This is just one example; there are many more options available should you desire more flexibility.


The –start-at option will display a selected image in feh while allowing to browse all other images in the directory as well, in their default order, i.e. as if you had run “feh *” and cycled through to the selected image. For example, feh –start-at ./foo.jpg . views all images in the current directory, starting with foo.jpg.

Setting a Wallpaper:

feh can be used to set the desktop wallpaper, for example for window managers without this feature such as Openbox, Fluxbox, and xmonad.

The following command is an example of how to set the initial background:

$ feh --bg-scale /path/to/image.file

Other scaling options include:

–bg-tile FILE
–bg-center FILE
–bg-max FILE
–bg-fill FILE

To restore the background on the next session, add the following to your startup file (e.g. ~/.xinitrc, ~/.config/openbox/autostart, etc.):

$ ~/.fehbg &

To change the background image, edit the file ~/.fehbg which gets created after running the command feh –bg-scale /path/to/image.file mentioned above.

Opening SVG Images:

$ feh --magick-timeout 1 file.svg

Note that this requires the imagemagick package.

Random Background Image:

You can have feh set a random wallpaper using the –randomize option with one of the –bg-foo options, for example:

$ feh --randomize --bg-fill ~/.wallpaper/*

The above command tells feh to randomize the list of files in the ~/.wallpaper/ directory and set the backgrounds for all available desktops to whichever images are at the front of the randomized list (one unique image for each desktop). You can also do this recursively, if you have your wallpapers divided into subfolders:

$ feh --recursive --randomize --bg-fill ~/.wallpaper

To set a different random wallpaper from ~/.wallpaper each session, add the following to your .xinitrc:

$ feh --bg-max --randomize ~/.wallpaper/* &

Another way to set a random wallpaper on each session is to edit your .fehbg as following.


feh --bg-max --randomize --no-fehbg ~/.wallpaper/*