Difference between revisions of "Dunst"

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Revision as of 19:51, 10 January 2019

Dunst is a lightweight replacement for the notification-daemons provided by most desktop environments.


Install the dunst package. There is no need to start or enable dunst; it is called by systemd when programs send notifications through dbus.

An example configuration file is included at /usr/share/dunst/dunstrc. Copy this file to ~/.config/dunst/dunstrc and edit it accordingly.


Dunst allows for the use of html markup in notifications. Some examples are bold, italics, strikethrough and underline. For a complete reference see [1]. HTML can be stripped from notifications if markup is set to none.

The formatting of the notification can be specified. Options are as follows:

%a  appname
%s  summary
%b  body
%i  iconname (including its path)
%I  iconname (without its path)
%p  progress value if set ([  0%] to [100%]) or nothing

These can be used in conjunction with HTML markup. For example the format can be set to <b>%s</b>\n%b for a bolded notification summary, a newline and the body unformatted.

Icon Sets

Icons are set in the option icon_path. Status and devices icons are needed. By default, Dunst looks for the gnome-icon-theme icons. For example, to use adwaita-icon-theme (gnome-icon-theme's successor), instead:

icon_path = /usr/share/icons/Adwaita/16x16/status/:/usr/share/icons/Adwaita/16x16/devices/


Idle thresholds can be set letting the notification stay onscreen if the user is idle longer than the threshold.

To close a notification before it times out use Control + space. If multiple notifications are onscreen Control + Shift + Space closes all of them.

Tip: The commands for closing and reopening notifications can be changed. If using a symbol rather than an alphabetical letter it must be spelled out, e.g. period.

A history list can be accessed by using Control + grave. A context menu can be opened using Control + Shift + period. The context menu uses dmenu to filter out URLs and open them in your browser. The default browser can be set in the config like so:

browser = /usr/bin/chromium 


You can create rules in your dunstrc file which match certain notifications and then perform an action on it such as executing a script.


To create a new rule create a new section with a custom name in your config file. In that section you can now use the attributes appname, summary, body, icon, category, match_transient and msg_urgency to match the notification. Globbing is supported. See Scripting for an example. Start dunst with the -print option to find out useful information about a notification to write proper rules.


When a notification is matched you can perform certain actions on it like modifying the format string, which is especially useful if you want tocompletely ignore certain notifications. In that case simply add the line format="" to your rule.

Another useful feature is if you want to keep certain notifications out of your history for example if you use dunst as a Volume indicator. To achieve this simply add history_ignore=yes to your rule.


Dunst can be configured to run scripts based on certain notification content. Here is an example using Dunst to run a script when someone from pidgin signs on:

   appname = Pidgin
   summary = "*signed on*"
   urgency = low
   script = do_something.sh

The specified script will be passed the following parameters in that order: appname, summary, body, icon, urgency.

Disable dunst temporarily

To disable dunst temporarily there are two options.

Send a special notification
Use notify-send "DUNST_COMMAND_PAUSE" to disable and notify-send "DUNST_COMMAND_RESUME" to reenable.
Use killall
Use killall -SIGUSR1 dunst to disable and killall -SIGUSR2 dunst to reenable

Once paused dunst will hold back all notifications. After enabling dunst again all held back notifications will be displayed.


Dunstify is an alternative to the notify-send command which is completely compatible to notify-send and can be used alongside it, but offers some more features. Dunstify works only with the Dunst notification daemon.

Additionally to the options available in notify-send, dunstify offers some more features like IDs and actions.

Notification ID

You can assign an ID to a notification by calling dunstify with the -r ID option, where ID needs to be an integer. If a notification with that ID already exists it will be replaced with the new one(therefore the long option name --replace=ID).

Furthermore you can close a notification by using dunstify --close=ID.


You can define actions which can be invoked directly from the notification by specifying one or more --action=action,label parameters. For instance:

dunstify --action="replyAction,reply" "Message received"

The user can then access the specified actions via dunsts context menu. The call to dunstify will block until either the notification disappears or an action is selected. In the former case dunstify will return 1 if the notification timed out and 2 if it was closed manually. In the latter case it returns the action which was selected.

Tips and tricks

Using dunstify as volume/brightness level indicator

You can use the replace id feature to implement a simple volume or brightness indicator notification like in this picture [2].

To realize that volume indicator place the following script somewhere on your PATH.

 # changeVolume
 # Arbitrary but unique message id
 # Change the volume using alsa(might differ if you use pulseaudio)
 amixer -c 0 set Master "$@" > /dev/null
 # Query amixer for the current volume and whether or not the speaker is muted
 volume="$(amixer -c 0 get Master | tail -1 | awk '{print $4}' | sed 's/[^0-9]*//g')"
 mute="$(amixer -c 0 get Master | tail -1 | awk '{print $6}' | sed 's/[^a-z]*//g')"
 if [[ $volume == 0 || "$mute" == "off" ]]; then
     # Show the sound muted notification
     dunstify -a "changeVolume" -u low -i audio-volume-muted -r "$msgId" "Volume muted" 
     # Show the volume notification
     dunstify -a "changeVolume" -u low -i audio-volume-high -r "$msgId" \
     "Volume: ${volume}%" "$(getProgressString 10 "<b> </b>" " " $volume)"
 # Play the volume changed sound
 canberra-gtk-play -i audio-volume-change -d "changeVolume"

getProgressString needs to be some function assembling the progressbar like string. This script uses [3].

Now simply bind changeVolume 2dB+ unmute etc. to some hotkey and you are done. You might also want to make dunst ignore these type of notifications in its history. See Dunst#Modifying.


Dunst fails to start via systemd

When using dunst without a Display Manager, the DISPLAY environment variable might not be correctly set.[4]

To fix this, add the following to your .xinitrc:

systemctl --user import-environment DISPLAY