jump to navigation

Gmail+Weather+Beauty right on your Ubuntu desktop September 27, 2008

Posted by askgel in Design, Desktop, Linux, Software, System.
Tags: , , , ,

[Update:After being hit severely by ‘Digg Effect’ when this post made to the front page this morning, this site is back again. Thank you for your patience, Diggs (Buries) and Comments folks! Digg on!]

Ever wished that you had new mails notifications right on your desktop? Ever wished you knew the weather info right on your desktop? Ever wished you had your hardware information right on your desktop? Ever wished your desktop was productive and beautiful at the same time? Ever wished you didn’t have to use Mac4Lin theme to hide the ‘ugliness’ of Ubuntu’s native appearance? Ever wished you had a desktop that looked as beautiful as mine? Let’s fulfil your wish:

Desktop Screenshot with Gnome-Do

I have already talked about how to make your Ubuntu desktop look beautiful and productive. This time I will focus mostly on Conky. Conky is a lightweight system monitor for X. Not only monitoring system, with a little bit of scripting, it can be useful to know your new mails, weather info etc.

Here I’ve attached all the required files, attached my Conky configuration file and explained how to make your desktop look similar to mine.



  1. Read my previous post about AWN and Gnome-Do.
  2. Install Conky:
    $ sudo apt-get install conky
  3. Download this file and save in your home directory(Right-click, Save Link As…save the file as .conkyrc)
  4. Make a directory scripts in your home directory. Download these scripts, extract and copy them inside the directory you just created.
  5. Download all these fonts, extract and copy them inside .fonts directory in your home directory. If you don’t have the .fonts directory, you need to create it. You might need to have administrative privileges to create this directory.
  6. Open .conkyrc file. Look for this line:
    ${execpi 300 python ~/scripts/gmail_parser.py yourgmailusername yourgmailpassword 3}
  7. Replace yourgmailusernamewith your username and yourgmailpassword with Gmail password. You might also need to install feedparser (thanks Onno and Neil for bringing this to my attention)
    $ sudo apt-get install python-feedparser
  8. To monitor your hard disk and CPU temperature install lm-sensors and hddtemp
  9. $sudo apt-get install hddtemp
    $sudo apt-get install lm-sensors
  10. Now you need to know the location id for your location for weather info. Head to http://weather.yahoo.com. Enter city or zip code for your location and click go. Copy the location ID from the adress bar. For examples the location id for Geneva, Switzerland is SZXX0013, for Kathmandu, Nepal is NPXX0003
  11. Open pogodynka.sh file look for this line kod=USID0025. Replace USID0025 with the location ID you got from step 10 above
  12. If you want the temperature in Celsius instead of Farenheit, find the following line:
    w3m -dump http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/"$kod".html | grep -A21 "Current" | sed 's/DEG/°/g' > $plik
    Replace it with:
    w3m -dump http://weather.yahoo.com/forecast/"$kod"_c.html | grep -A21 "Current" | sed 's/DEG/°/g' > $plik
  13. Create a new empty file in your home directory. Name it weather. Leave the file as it is; do nothing with the file.
  14. Bring Run Applicationdialog box (Alt+F2) type conky to launch it
  15. If everything goes right, your desktop should be looking much ‘cooler’

More info:

[If you want to share your desktop and want me to show the best looking desktops on my blog, shoot an email to admin[at]quicktweaks[dot]com along with the screenshot of your desktop and the conky file (if you wish). If you decide to send your conky file, don’t forget to delete your gmail username and password. Sharing is learning!]


my desktop screenshot


1. Jamie Souef - September 28, 2008

Great tutorial. It really puzzles me why Ubuntu comes standard with a fugly interface when something as clean and elegant as this is achievable.. This is where linux falls down if you ask me. Very ugly, boring UIs (and that my friends, is what the masses want!)

2. nerdd.net | news and opinion - September 28, 2008

I wish I was Mac but now I am happy that I am Ubuntu | nerdd.net…

\r\nEver wished you had a Mac only because it looks beautiful? Ever wish you could hide the ugly loo…

3. VGH - September 28, 2008

Step 10 .

What do we need to do with location ID. do we need to paste it into the file which is named weather ?. I tried this, but the weather file created gets overwritten by conky each time it is started

4. Bert - September 28, 2008

very nice but i have one question:
How can i get the tempereture in Celcius

5. admin - September 28, 2008

@vgh and @bert. The post is updated to cover your questions. Please go through the tutorial once more. Sorry for the inconvenience and confusion.

6. swag01 - September 28, 2008

Your panel text is unreadable.

To do this type this in the terminal: sudo apt-get install gnome-color-chooser

Then go System > Preferences > Gnome Color Chooser

Then click the Panel tab and change to Normal Foreground color to white or whatever color is the most readable in a transparent panel.


7. Insomniac_vampire - September 29, 2008

I cannot get 2 things to work.
1. The Temperature displays in Celsius but i still have LETTER “F” while it should be “C”.
2. Gmail checker is not working.

Help Please. thanks

8. I wish I was Mac but now I am happy that I am Ubuntu « Internet Making Money - September 29, 2008
9. Kartik Mistry - September 29, 2008

Amazing post. I loved openlogo things with conky 🙂

10. foobar - September 29, 2008

Ugliness shines through, no matter what you do. Look at that non-transparent scroll bar and look at that “XBMC media center” to display its ugly logo and text.

No themes or nice wallpapers are going to help all those ugly looking bundled in and “3rd party” apps you have to use. Good design and desire for it has to be everywhere.

11. Разгоняем Убунту | Blog - Efremov Sergey - September 29, 2008

[…] Смотрим, читаем: Gmail+Weather+Beauty right on your Ubuntu desktop […]

12. Onno - September 29, 2008

If your new mail does not show up (i.e. gmail feed is not read), check your Python modules. I had to install the feedparser module:

sudo apt-get install python-feedparser


13. Sponty - September 29, 2008

I’m fairly new to Ubuntu, and I’m having some trouble getting conky working as it’s supposed to. I’ve gone through all of the steps and I’m fairly sure that I’ve done everything properly (of course, if it isn’t working, something’s up).

Whenever I try to run conky, instead of it opening up on the desktop as beautifully as yours appears, it opens in this ugly little window with tiny white text on a black background. It displays information like uptime, CPU usage, etc.

I’m wondering if anyone knows what issue I’m experiencing here, and how I might go about fixing it.

14. Sam - September 29, 2008

Hey, how do I add CPUs to the conkyrc file? I have a quad-core processor, and I wanna see all my CPUs up there.

thanks in advance,


15. Neil - September 29, 2008

This was a very helpful post, thanks. Two notes:
On my system I had to add:
“sudo apt-get install python-feedparser” since this module was missing.
Also, for those wanting Celsius, it is nice to also grep for ‘F’ in the pogodynka.sh script and change these to C.

16. sean - September 29, 2008

awesome, just one problem, it wont read my gmail….

17. sean - September 29, 2008

scratch that, it works now (thanx Neil) one more question though, is there a way to change the colors? some of it clashes with my background…

18. Zake Naio - September 29, 2008

hi. Must say that i loved the tutorial.
But having a problem with my dual-monitor setup (second screen just showing 420x380ish) i had to reconfigure alot, but thats the fun part right =)

Now to my problem. I Can not make the weather and gmail to work. Other than that. Puuurfect.

19. kbean - September 29, 2008

i have the same problem as sponty

conky comes up in a black ugly window, not on the desktop

20. Insomniac_vampire - September 29, 2008

Thanks for advice, now my “C” and gmail works now.

One last thing is the battery bar of mine is not showing.

Please help.

21. Tim - September 29, 2008

Same as sponty too… black box only 😦
any ideas?

22. Tim - September 29, 2008

Never mind… it’s always the fine print! 🙂

be sure to “save the file as .conkyrc”
not conkyrc as it would be by default when you save as 🙂

23. Insomniac_vampire - September 29, 2008

I got the battery bar working already by changing to BAT1 in .conkyc

Thanks all

24. links for 2008-09-29 « I do - September 29, 2008

[…] Gmail, Weather, Beauty on your Ubuntu Desktop | Quick Tweaks (tags: ubuntu desktop howto conky) […]

25. Make Linux: Harder - Better - Faster | LinuxHaxor.net - September 30, 2008

[…] – Beautiful Conky Setup […]

26. Sponty - September 30, 2008

Ah, you’re right Tim!

27. Optimize your Ubuntu desktop « 0ddn1x: tricks with *nix - September 30, 2008

[…] Optimize your Ubuntu desktop Filed under: Linux — 0ddn1x @ 2008-09-30 16:52:13 +0000 http://www.quicktweaks.com/2008/09/27/gmail-weather-beauty-right-on-your-ubuntu-desktop/ […]

28. Nate - September 30, 2008

enjoyed, but i have two problems…
1. weather isn’t working. i’ve tried to fix it but can’t figure out what wrong.

2. i am hard wired into my network and this set up won’t show my data streams, how do i fix that?

29. Rishi - September 30, 2008

This conky thing is beautiful….however, i’m having issues. I am getting these errors:

cat: /home/rishijain/weather: Is a directory
/home/rishijain/scripts/pogodynka.sh: 50: cannot create /home/rishijain/weather: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
tail: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
head: error reading `/home/rishijain/weather’: Is a directory
localhost [] 7634 (?) : Connection refused

the weather thing isn’t working, and the connection refused thing keeps coming. Any ideas?

30. Dave - September 30, 2008

I got most of it working however my bars don’t become transparent, is that a something I should set myself manually?

31. How to make your Linux harder, better & faster. - September 30, 2008

[…] – Beautiful Conky Setup […]

32. Zeroday - September 30, 2008

where is the pogodynka.sh script??

33. Michael - September 30, 2008

But it looks so ugly?! Lol…

34. Dac - October 1, 2008


I seem to have a problem with starting conky automatically, if I add conky under sessions it loads up with a kind of black frame around it and it stays on top of every window.

It only works good if I start it up manually (Alt F2, Conky).

Any advice?



35. pandi - October 1, 2008

Wow, this is really great! I just recently found conky, and now this makes it even better. If anyone is interested, I wrote a little script a couple months ago that puts a continuously updating day & night map of the earth onto the desktop, with ~current cloud coverage, to make it look pretty. You can check it out here if you like: https://sites.google.com/site/sweetlinuxstuff/day–night-desktop

36. Jeff - October 1, 2008

One change i would and will make is to use eterm instead of terminal. you can get a totally transparent terminal that “sits” on the desktop like conky with a few command line switches. I use it now and will use it once I apply this . If anyone is interested in the switches, please let me know. I will email them or post them here when i get home if anyone wants them.

Also, does anyone know how to get the forecast in teh weather?

37. WladyX - October 1, 2008

Ablosutly awsome desktop!! I really, really love it, and i’m really picky about desktops, i’ll try it later! It rocks! Thanks for sharing.

38. CyberCowboy - October 1, 2008

Any idea how I’d modify the script to tell me if a different e-mail account (has IMAP and POP3 access) has mail rather than GMail?

39. Del.icio.us op 1 oktober 2008 | Michel Vuijlsteke's weblog - October 1, 2008

[…] – Gmail, Weather, Beauty on your Ubuntu Desktop | Quick Tweaks mfff (tags: theme […]

40. Paul - October 1, 2008

Looks good? Yes. Useful and easy to use? Nope.

41. Boycott Novell » Links 01/10/2008: New Ubuntu Theme, Fedora 10 Beta - October 1, 2008

[…] Gmail+Weather+Beauty right on your Ubuntu desktop […]

42. showtime - October 2, 2008

Hey There

All is working perfectly loving the look. I’m wondering how to get my conky to update, my time and weather etc all stay the same, is there any way I can accomplish this?

Thanks Bud

43. Dave - October 2, 2008

Hi! Thanks for sharing this. “Default” Ubuntu theme looks like a 70′ sci-fi movie watched today… jaw dropping & laughable.

Maybe just a silly question from a ubuntu rookie – how do you make such mac style menu bar at the bottom?

Once this is known, I switch to this 21st century desktop immediately

44. Rick - October 2, 2008

Not really sure what I did wrong but for whatever reason all the icons that should be there for conky are instead replaced by single letters . . . also I did the weather just as said in the tutorial and I’ll I’ve got is F / F . . . any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

45. m.ost - October 2, 2008

I love all the mods you made to the desktop, but I’m having one problem. Conky runs fine, but instead of the transparent sleek look that you have, mine simply runs as white text on a black backround. Do you know where i might have gone wrong?

46. WladyX - October 3, 2008

for imap you can find here a rc file and imap script:


zelrik - October 1, 2008

That’s partly due to the fact that ubuntu can be installed on any computer …new or old and I am not sure that you can do that on an old computer.
The ubuntu team is working on it as you can read on Mark Shuttleworth’s blog.

PS : OMG They should fix that webpage, I hate when I have to write in a box that is black over black!!! I have a black theme and that page doesnt like it, and my theme isnt the one to blame.

47. Zeroday - October 3, 2008

hello this should fix the problem with the startup of conky, it doesnt take over the section of the desktop

use_xft yes
xftfont verdana:size=8
alignment top_right
xftalpha 0.8
own_window yes
own_window_type override
own_window_transparent yes
own_window_hints undecorated,below,sticky,skip_taskbar,skip_pager
double_buffer yes
draw_shades no
draw_outline no
draw_borders no

can someone help me find the script folder? i found one but it doesnt have the pogodynka.sh file 😦
stippled_borders 10
border_margin 4
border_width 1
default_shade_color grey
default_outline_color black
default_color BADCDD
use_spacer none
no_buffers yes
uppercase no
color1 F8DF58

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: