From John Shipman
How does one go about putting a graphic on the background of one's X screen? When I went to look at my .login file to see how I used to do this, I found that I did with an option to the `suntools' command. This is slightly obsolete. Anyone have this set up for twm or tvtwm or fvwm?
From Justin Hooper, Wed Jul 31 00:23:59 1996
The appropriate command can use xsetroot if the background is a xpm or similar type bitmap file. Inconvenient, as these must be B/W. Most files are gif/jpeg and use xv in a manner similar to the following
sleep xx; xv -rmode 1 path/filename -onroot -quit &
Note that the sleep is necessary because your window manager re-initializes the background when it starts, and there is sometimes significant lag between the xv being called in the .xinitrc and the window manager being finished initializing. This is a user tweak option. Adjust the sleep time until it works.