Screenlets – Easily Add Widgets to Your Linux Desktop

Screenlets - Add Widgets to Ubuntu Desktop
Written by Martins D. Okoi

One method you can use to get Widgets on your Linux desktop is Conky but setting up custom configurations can be a bit too technical for some people. A simpler way to achieve the same goal, although less technically complex ones, is to use Screenlets.

Screenlets is an open source Python-based tool that allows you add widgets to your desktop. It supports adding numerous screenlets including RSS readers, weather, countdown, clock, folder view, sensors, calendars, a Conky-like system information widget, among others widget options.

Screenlets Widgets

Screenlets Widgets

Screenlets was taken off Ubuntu’s repo because it no longer worked and got discontinued. But thanks to Hrotkó Gábor who fixed most of the issues in the tool, a new version for the official Screenlets PPA is now available for Ubuntu 16.04.

Features in Screenlets

  • FOSS – free to use and open source with the source code available on Launchpad.
  • Multiple screenlets (widgets) with individual configuration options.

Screenlets requires an X11-based composite manager and so you’ll need something like Xcompmgr or Compton for its widgets to show up on your desktop.

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It is available to install for Ubuntu 16.04 via PPA using following commands in a new Terminal window.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:screenlets/ppa
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install screenlets screenlets-pack-all

There are no Ubuntu 16.10 packages yet so you will need to make the PPA point to Xenial instead of Yakkety:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:screenlets/ppa
$ sudo sed -i 's/yakkety/xenial/g' /etc/apt/sources.list.d/screenlets-ubuntu-ppa-yakkety.list
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt install screenlets screenlets-pack-all

Screenlets Usage

Launch Screenlets Select the screenlet you want on the desktop and check the “Start / Stop” option on the left to start it (or just double click it). You can check the “Auto start at login” to get the screenlet to start automatically on login.

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Have you used Screenlets before? What do you think about it in comparison to Conky? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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About the author

Martins D. Okoi

Martins Jr. (Dillivine) Okoi is a graduate of Computer Science with a passion for Linux and the Open Source community. He works as a Web designer & developer, technical writer, and programmer.

  • muzikjock

    i am offended at the title of your article. to say “how to add screenlets to your linux desktop”?
    what you REALLY meant to say is how to add screenlets to your ubuntu desktop.
    its stuff like this that really get me. because ubuntu is not linux. linux includes ubuntu…not the other way around. it’s stuff like this that makes people think ubuntu is linux…LINUX IS MUCH MORE THAN UBUNTU. and this screenlets tutorial is useless for me…because i came here thinking i could use this in manjaro….come to find out its for ubuntu… time, properly label your articles. so people know your target.

    • Hi muzikjock,
      I’m sorry that you feel mislead by the title. The article is focused on Ubuntu but Screenlets can be used on any modern Linux. I had to use a distro to make an example and I used Ubuntu because it is the most common.

      The Screenlets link is available within the post for you to check for distro-specific instructions. If you’ve tried that and can’t find your way around then you can comment below to ask for help.

      I believe the title is okay because Ubuntu is a GNU/Linux distro. And technically, there exists no single “Linux desktop”.