Saturday, May 4, 2013

Six ways to make a notification pop-up

UPDATED MAY 2013 to add Go and GObject methods to the existing Command Line and Python methods.
Originally published Feb 27, 2009.

There are several ways to create notifications in Ubuntu. The notify-OSD daemon draws the boxes and creates the notifications, so all these ways simply contact it and tell it what to do.

  1. On the command line, use the notify-send command. This command is part of the libnotify-bin package. It's easy:
    $ notify-send -i /usr/share/icons/Tango/32x32/status/sunny.png \
                       "Notification Title" \
                       "This is the body"

  2. More command line: dbus-send command does NOT work for notification. It does not support nested message variables. If it did, it should be something really close to this:
    dbus-send --session --dest=org.freedesktop.Notifications \
                             --type=method_call --reply-timeout=10000 \
                             /org/freedesktop/Notifications org.freedesktop.Notifications \
                             string:'Test Application' uint32:0 \
                             string: string:'Notification Title' \
                             string:'This is the body' \
                             array:string: dict:string: int32:10000

  3. Using the Python2 or Python3 pynotify module:
    #!/usr/bin/env python
    """Python 2.5 script. Creates a Notification pop-up bubble"""
    import pynotify
    title = "Notification Title"
    text  = "This is the body"
    icon  = "/usr/share/icons/Tango/32x32/status/sunny.png"
    pynotify.init("Test Application")
    notification = pynotify.Notification(title, text, icon) 

  4. Using the Python2 or Python3 dbus module:
    #!/usr/bin/env python
    """Python 2.5 script. Creates a Notification pop-up bubble"""
    import dbus
    item              = "org.freedesktop.Notifications"
    path              = "/org/freedesktop/Notifications"
    interface         = "org.freedesktop.Notifications"
    app_name          = "Test Application"
    id_num_to_replace = 0
    icon              = "/usr/share/icons/Tango/32x32/status/sunny.png"
    title             = "Notification Title"
    text              = "This is the body"
    actions_list      = ''
    hint              = ''
    time              = 5000   # Use seconds x 1000
    bus = dbus.SessionBus()
    notif = bus.get_object(item, path)
    notify = dbus.Interface(notif, interface)
    notify.Notify(app_name, id_num_to_replace, icon, title, text, actions_list, hint, time)

  5. Using the Python3 GObject Introspection (gi) module:
    #!/usr/bin/env python3
    import gi.repository
    from gi.repository import Gio, GLib
    session_bus                = Gio.BusType.SESSION
    cancellable                = None
    proxy_property             = 0
    interface_properties_array = None
    destination                = "org.freedesktop.Notifications"
    path                       = "/org/freedesktop/Notifications"
    interface                  = destination
    method                     = "Notify"
    application_name           = "Test Application"
    title                      = "Notification Title"
    text                       = "This is the body"
    id_num_to_replace          = 0
    icon                       = "/usr/share/icons/Tango/32x32/status/sunny.png"
    actions_list               = []
    hints_dict                 = {}
    display_milliseconds       = 5000
    timeout                    = -1
    connection = Gio.bus_get_sync(session_bus, cancellable)
    notify = Gio.DBusProxy.new_sync( connection, proxy_property, interface_properties_array,
                                     destination, path, interface, cancellable)
    args = GLib.Variant('(susssasa{sv}i)', ( application_name, id_num_to_replace, icon, 
                        title, text, actions_list, hints_dict, display_milliseconds))
    result = notify.call_sync(method, args, proxy_property, timeout, cancellable)
    id = result.unpack()[0]

  6. Using the go programming language (golang):
    package main
    import ""
    import "fmt"
    func main() {
        // Set the variables
        var (
            err              error
            conn             *dbus.Connection
            destination      string = "org.freedesktop.Notifications"
            path             string = "/org/freedesktop/Notifications"
            dbus_interface   string = "org.freedesktop.Notifications"
            dbus_method      string = "Notify"
            application_name string = "dbus-test"
            id_num_to_repl   uint32
            icon_path        string = "/usr/share/icons/Tango/32x32/status/sunny.png"
            title            string = "Notification Title"
            text             string = "This is the body"
            actions_list     []string
            hint             map[string]dbus.Variant
            timeout          int32  = -1
        // Connect to Session or System buses.
        if conn, err = dbus.Connect(dbus.SessionBus); err != nil {
            fmt.Println("Connection error:", err)
        // Create an object proxy
        obj := conn.Object(destination, dbus.ObjectPath(path))
        // Call object methods.
        reply, err := obj.Call(
            dbus_interface,             dbus_method,
            application_name,           id_num_to_repl,
            icon_path,                  notif_box_title,
            notif_box_body,             actions_list,
            hint,                       timeout)
        if err != nil {
            fmt.Println("Notification error:", err)
        // Parse the reply message
        var notification_id uint32
        if err := reply.Args(&notification_id); err != nil {
        fmt.Println("Notification id:", notification_id)

Zenity is an application, not a daemon. It creates a regular window that can be abused for notifications.
zenity --info --title "Big Title" --text "This is the\\nbody text"


Unknown said...

If i am using dbus module for sending notification pop-up, what is the use actions_list and hint, which you have left blank, please explain me with an example

Ian said...

See the explanation at

Unknown said...

You golang example doesn't compile, FYI

Ian said...

Well, sorry it mysteriously doesn't work for whatever system and version you happen to be using a year after it worked just fine for me. When you figure it out, please let us know!