Dunst

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

Installation

Install the dunst package.

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

Launch /usr/bin/dunst and make sure your window manager or desktop environment starts it on startup/login.

Note: It may seem like there is no need to manually start dunst, as it may get autostarted by dbus-daemon when programs send notifications through D-Bus. However, the notification service frequently has multiple daemons installed, and there is no way to know which daemon will be autostarted. The dbus-daemon maintainers explicitly warn against relying on autostart for multiple-provider services.

Appearance

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, devices and legacy 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/:/usr/share/icons/Adwaita/16x16/legacy/

Shortcuts

Dunst can be controlled with dunstctl. You can update your keyboard shortcuts to call dunstctl.

For example, to close all notifications:

$ dunstctl close-all

To show history:

$ dunstctl history-pop

Rules

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

Filtering

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.

Modifying

When a notification is matched you can perform certain actions on it like modifying the format string, which is especially useful if you want to completely 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.

Scripting

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:

[signed_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.

Use dunstctl
You can use dunstctl set-paused true/false/toggle to disable/reenable or toggle pausing notifications. Use dunstctl is-paused to check if dunst is currently running or paused.
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

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.

Replacing notifications

You can assign an ID to a notification by calling dunstify with the -r ID option, where ID must be an integer. If a notification with that ID already exists it will be replaced with the new one. You may also close a notification with dunstify -C ID.

However, for most use cases, implementing tags is preferred over micromanaging IDs because the latter option has many hidden pitfalls [2]. Replacing IDs may be considered for debugging and for very complex notification senders instead of common practice [3].

Notifications with the same tag ("test" in this example) are replaced without having to care for IDs.

$ dunstify -h string:x-dunst-stack-tag:test Test -A 'tested,default'
$ dunstify -h string:x-dunst-stack-tag:test Testing

Actions

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 Dunst's 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 dismissed manually [4]. In the latter case it returns the action which was selected by the Dunst context menu.

In addition to invoking actions with the context menu, you may also define how mouse events invoke actions [5]. This allows Dunst to be used interactively, as was suggested in [6]. When a notification has only one action, or when an action is named "default", that action may be invoked by middle-clicking the notification (by default or when dunstrc defines mouse_middle_click = do_action).

reply_action () {}
forward_action () {}
handle_dismiss () {}

ACTION=$(dunstify --action="default,Reply" --action="forwardAction,Forward" "Message Received")

case "$ACTION" in
"default")
    reply_action
    ;;
"forwardAction")
    forward_action
    ;;
"2")
    handle_dismiss
    ;;
esac

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 [7].

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

#!/bin/bash
# changeVolume

# Arbitrary but unique message id
msgId="991049"

# 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 "$msgId" "Volume muted" 
else
    # Show the volume notification
    dunstify -a "changeVolume" -u low -i audio-volume-high -r "$msgId" \
    -h int:value:"$volume" "Volume: ${volume}%"
fi

# Play the volume changed sound
canberra-gtk-play -i audio-volume-change -d "changeVolume"

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 #Modifying.

Overwrite previous notification

For some notifications (for example sound or brightness), you might want to overwrite the previous notification. You can either use the Dunst method in #Replacing notifications or refer to Desktop notifications#Replace previous notification for a more general example.

Troubleshooting

Dunst fails to start via systemd

When using dunst without a Display Manager, the DISPLAY environment variable might not be correctly set.[8]

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

systemctl --user import-environment DISPLAY
Tip: This is done automatically as part of /etc/X11/xinit/xinitrc.d/50-systemd-user.sh that comes with recent versions of systemd.

Non-matching font sizes (Emojis much larger than text)

This is caused by fontconfig not rescaling bitmap fonts. This is usually only noticed with certain emoji fonts (e.g. noto-fonts-emoji)

To solve, simply run:

# ln -s /etc/fonts/conf.avail/10-scale-bitmap-fonts.conf /etc/fonts/conf.d/

and restart Dunst.