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I am looking for a way to display a permanent text on the desktop (xfce/gnome but if I found a way on another window manager, I catch). I was asked to show a version number on the desktop in a permanent way, so I have to display it on opening session, and I have to update it if our software is updated. How can I do this?

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It should be possible to run any Xwindow application in the root window, however a simpler solution would be to use a wallpaper and set up a cron job to update the wallpaper file from a template using a script. You can add text (for example) using the imagemagick toolkit or using the GD extension with PHP.

It's possible to force XFCE to reload the wallpaper.

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in gnome you can set a global background using

gconftool-2 --direct \
--config-source xml:readwrite:/etc/opt/gnome/gconf/gconf.xml.mandatory \
--type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename 
/usr/share/wallpapers/default-1600x1200.jpg

source

You could use convert to generate the wallpaper at login as explained here Remove the option to change the wallpaper

You could then use a script like

version= `uname -a`
convert -pointsize 10 -fill blue -draw 'text 800,6000 "version" ' basewallpaper.jpg usr/share/wallpapers/default-1600x1200.jpg

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