Backtestground 0.2

I’m happy to announce that I finally wrestled my way through actually making a release with a tarball and a PPA of my extended and improved Backtestground collection of templates and command line tools for designing and evaluating wallpapers 🙂

There are even man pages now, created from docbook xml sources!

UPDATE January 17: Fixed an issue with PPA and tarball that led to incomplete installations (Now it’s actually 0.3)
Ubuntu 10.10 PPA


Expects one screenshot with white, and one with shadow-color (usually black), background as input. Puts out a PNG image with transparent desktop. This is useful for evaluating wallpapers that should go well with panels
and themes other than the one you are currently using.


Expects an image as input and crops/resizes it to several common screen resolutions. The resolutions are now specified in a configuration file.


Expects an image with transparent background, that may contain panels, icons and windows (like extract-background-context produces) and crop/resizes it to several common screen resolutions, while doing something hopefully sensible with the content.


Combine pairs of images of matching resolution. Expects 2 paths, either to a single image file, or a directory containing images. Each image found at, or within, the first path will be combined with all images of matching resolution found at, or within, the second path. The first path will be used for the lower layer, the second path for the upper layer, when compositing.

GIMP XCF and Inkscape SVG templates

These are not included in the package, as it’s not possible to install files to the user’s Templates folder that way. The setup script in the tarball does install them, if there is a Templates folder.

Both have a 2560 x 1600 pixel canvas to use the largest commonly offered resolution, currently. Passepartout layers allow to see how things will look when this space is cropped to conform to other common aspect ratios.

This simulates the effect the Style: Zoom setting in Appearance Preferences: Background will have: the image is scaled up or down such that it fills the screen without distorting it. If the aspect ratio of the image is wider than that of the screen, it will be scaled to the same height and the areas on the side will be cropped. If the aspect ratio of the image is taller than that of the screen, it will be scaled to the same width and the areas on top and bottom will be cropped.

For Ubuntu and Gnome users: Putting them into your Templates folder makes them available in Nautilus or on the desktop by right-click, Create Document.

The Inkscape SVG file supports batch export to 14 screen resolutions.


  • Bring up the Layers panel (Keyboard shortcut: Shift-Ctrl-L)
  • lock all but the targets layer
  • Select all in the targets layer (Ctrl-A)
  • Bring up the Export Bitmap dialog (Shift-Ctrl-E)
  • Check Batch export 14 selected objects
  • Hit Export

This will create 14 files with names like size_1024x0768.png in the same folder as the opened file. The size_ part is an easy target for a search-and-replace on the SVG file, if you want a specific prefix or target path.

You might want to remove the rectangles in the targets layer matching unwanted resolutions. Repeatedly Alt-clicking allows to cycle through stacked objects in Inkscape (your window manager might be configured to intercept Alt-clicks, though).

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About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

5 Responses to Backtestground 0.2

  1. name says:

    Can you, please, explain how to use the command line tool for someone with little knowledge about Terminal?

    • thorwil says:

      I’m planning a follow-up post, explaining why and how to use them in combination.

      There are 4 separate command line tools. Each of them will print a brief help message if you put “-h” after the command name, e.g. “to-common-resolutions -h”. Putting “man” in front of the command name, e.g “man extract-background-context” shows more detailed documentation.

      I realise that these being command line tools is a barrier for many potential users. It’s just that this approach is quite handy for those who do know there way around on a terminal and it’s easier to implement. Perhaps I will look into creating GUI versions, some time.

      Meanwhile, you could have a look at

      • name says:

        Thanks for quick answer. 🙂
        After to-common-resolutions -h I get:
        Traceback (most recent call last):
        File “/usr/bin/context-to-common-resolutions”, line 29, in
        import cli_input
        ImportError: No module named cli_input

        Similar situation with other tools.

        I’ve installed Backtestground from your PPA.

        • thorwil says:

          Comes out the package and tarball were both broken. They didn’t install everything and I didn’t notice in local testing, as stuff in my source directory was picked up instead, because of a tweak to my setup that I didn’t think of anymore :}

          I’m a total beginner in this field, luckily Martin Owens helped me by identifying the issue.

          Thank you for reporting this, it’s fixed now!