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Dzen is "a general purpose messaging, notification and menuing program for X11. It was designed to be scriptable in any language and integrate well with window managers like dwm, wmii and xmonad though it will work with any window manager."


Install the dzen2 package which is available in the official repositories. The official dzen2 package includes Xft, XPM, and Xinerama support.

Note: Xft doesn't seem to work with the official package. Alternatively, you can install the dzen2-xft-xpm-xinerama-svnAUR package located in the AUR with Xft, XPM and Xinerama support.


Dzen is able to read font and color settings from X resources. As an example, you can add following lines to ~/.Xresources:

dzen2.font:       -*-fixed-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*
dzen2.foreground: #22EE11
dzen2.background: black

Tips & Tricks

Using custom fonts with dzen

Some fonts like terminus-font are installed in /usr/share/fonts/local, which is not added to the font path by default. If you would like to use these custom fonts with dzen2 you can either add the path to your local fonts directory into /etc/X11/xorg.conf:

Section "Files"
     FontPath     "/usr/share/fonts/local"

Or, if you do not have permission to change xorg.conf, you can add the following to ~/.xinitrc:

xset +fp /usr/share/fonts/local
xset fp rehash

For further information see the Font Configuration and Fonts articles.

Dzen & Conky

Conky can be used to pipe information directly to dzen for output in a status bar. This can be done with Conky in the official repositories and also with conky-cliAUR, a stripped-down version of the Conky status utility from the AUR.

The following example displays the average load values in red and the current time in the default dzen foreground colour:

 background no
 out_to_console yes
 out_to_x no
 update_interval 1.0
 total_run_times 0
 use_spacer none
 ^fg(\#ff0000)${loadavg 1 2 3} ^fg()${time %a %b %d %I:%M%P}
 conky | dzen2 -e - -h '16' -w '600' -ta r -fg $FG -bg $BG -fn $FONT &

Simply execute dzconky in your startup scripts.

Enabling Xft support for dzen

Note: You need to install the libxft package.

As of SVN revision 241 (development), dzen2 has optional support for Xft. To enable Xft support, build dzen2 with these options by editing
 ## Option: With Xinerama and XPM and XFT
 LIBS = -L/usr/lib -lc -L${X11LIB} -lX11 -lXinerama -lXpm `pkg-config --libs xft`
 CFLAGS = -Wall -Os ${INCS} -DVERSION=\"${VERSION}\" -DDZEN_XINERAMA -DDZEN_XPM -DDZEN_XFT `pkg-config --cflags xft`

To check libxft support, you can use this command:

echo "hello world" | dzen2 -fn 'Times New Roman' -p

See also

Forum threads