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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.


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 =


When using dunst without a Display Manager, the DISPLAY environment variable might not be correctly set.[2]

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

systemctl --user import-environment DISPLAY