New notification work lands in Jaunty

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Thanks to the concerted efforts of Martin Pitt, Sebastien Bacher and several others, notify-osd and several related components landed in Jaunty last week. Thanks very much to all involved! And thanks to David Barth, Mirco Muller and Ted Gould who lead the development of notify-osd and the related messaging indicator.

Notify-OSD handles both application notifications and keyboard special keys like brightness and volume

Notify-OSD handles both application notifications and keyboard special keys like brightness and volume

MPT has posted an overview of the conceptual framework for “attention management” at, which puts ephemeral notification into context as just one of several distinct tools that applications can use when they don’t have the focus but need to make users aware of something. That’s a draft, and when it’s at 1.0 we’ll move it to a new site which will host design patterns on

There is also a detailed specification for our implementation of the notification display agent, notify-osd, which can be found at and which defines not only the expected behaviour of notify-osd but also all of the consequential updates we need to make across the packages in main an universe to ensure that those applications use notification and other techniques consistently.

There are at least 35 apps that need tweaking, and there may well be others! If you find an app that isn’t using notifications elegantly, please add it to the notification design guidelines page, and if you file a bug on the package, please tag it “notifications” so we can track these issues in a single consistent way.

Together with notify-osd, we’ve uploaded a new panel indicator which is used to provide a way to respond to messaging events, such as email and IRC pings. If someone IM’s you, then you should see an ephemeral notification, and the messaging indicator will give you a way to respond immediately. Same for email. Pidgin and Evolution are the primary focuses of the work, over time we’ll broaden that to the full complement of IM and email apps in the archive – patches welcome šŸ™‚

There will be rough patches. Apps which don’t comply with the spec and send actions on notifications even when the display agent says it does not support them, will have their notifications translated into alerts. That’s the primary focus of the effort now, the find and fix those apps. Also, we know there are several cases where a persistent response framework is required. The messaging indicator gets most of them, we will have additional persistent tools in place for Karmic in October.

227 Responses to “New notification work lands in Jaunty”

  1. Thoughts of a coder » Ubuntu 9.04(Jaunty Jackalope) Says:

    […] the booting time, the next major feature 9.04 adds is the new notification system. This replaces the gtk notification daemon. The new notifications looks really nice, however the […]

  2. Michael Sherwin Says:

    I am a bit concerned by the new notification system, because it does share a more ‘Mac’ style of thinking of desktop, which is beautiful, but could be less clear in its design. By trying to look beautiful, it is possible for a desktop system become less clear and harder to tell how to use it. For example, Windows Vista is very, very pretty compared to XP, but reviewers agree that one of Vista’s issues is with unclear UI. Now I am not comparing Ubuntu to Windows Vista, the above is simply an example of UI being beautiful but confusing. In reviews of Mac OS X.5, there were mentions of the new of the Dock sacrificing some usability for the sake of beauty, as another example of beauty being important, but design clarity being more important.

    I don’t want to sound picky, but I think the intrepid notifications did have some value over the jaunty notification. Yes, the jaunty notifications are cleaner, and therefore, more beautiful, but the the ones in intrepid were clearer, and you could tell they were there more easily. I think that jaunty notifications are a step in the right direction but maybe too conservative in their design at this point in time.

    I personally believe the Linux desktop is evolving thanks to you. You have been, really, the flint of tons of action on the Linux desktop.

  3. Ulasan Singkat Jaunty Jackalope | Says:

    […] baru Semua notifikasi tergabung menjadi satu di kanan atas, dari mulai volume, batere, sampai notifikasi pidgin. Menarik […]

  4. Felix Says:


    I like the new notifications. It would be cool, if they would stay till the user move the mouse cursor over it or something like that, because i miss some notifications šŸ˜‰ …but it’s nice… it’s nice.
    Whats the reason FOR an autostart-update-manager and against the nice and understated update-notification-icon. Is that only a workaround because of the new notifications? We german would say “Es ist etwas nervig”. Is there an official statement?

    Thank you for all…


  5. daecwzcz Says:

    I’m running Ubuntu 9.04 on MacBook 3,1 and I like it over MacOSX šŸ™‚ The new notification system is awesome – just better than Growl on Mac (because it is not clickable, which was sometimes obtrusive a lot).

    By the way, I got Ubuntu 100% working (Apple Remote, iSight, subwoofer, …) in one day with really good help of guides on Ubuntu website.

    Thank you all, Mark, Canonical and volunteers and developers, very much for this great operating system!

  6. the empty quarter » Jaunty notifications in Thunderbird and Firefox Says:

    […] of the major new features in Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty) has of course been the new notification system. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a pretty good, bold piece of work and the […]

  7. Khalil Says:

    Cool ! Thanks for this excellent program !

  8. Ubuntu Jaunty on HP EliteBook 8530p – All Issues Solved! « Guru dell’Eccelso Picco Says:

    […] now I can enjoy all the Jaunty wonders! New notifications, faster boot and shutdown, a reliable […]

  9. Automatinis atsarginių kopijų kūrimas su rsync ir Notify-OSD praneŔimai at Povilas Balzaravičius Says:

    […] informacinių praneÅ”imų valdymą ir rodymą vartotojui. Apie juos plačiau galite pasiskaityti Mark Shuttleworth bloge arba oficiame puslapyje. Man iÅ”kart kilo klausimas, kaip rodyti custom praneÅ”imus. Notify-OSD […]

  10. Serving Notice at Says:

    […] few months ago when Mark Shuttleworth announced that a new notification system was going to roll out in the then upcoming Jaunty Jackalope release, […]

  11. New notification work lands in Jaunty « Technology And Gadget Info Says:

    […] of Martin Pitt, Sebastien Bacher and several others, notify-osd and several related components landed in Jaunty last week. Thanks very much to all involved! And thanks to David Barth, Mirco Muller and […]

  12. wakacje Says:

    This the dark theme is ok! Ubuntu maniac. Thanks 4 !

  13. Ubuntu Podcast Episode #20 « Says:

    […] 9.04 Alpha 5 released, new notifications are now in Jaunty, Kubuntu 8.04.2 released, Ubuntu 9.10: Karmic Koala announced, US Team seeking mentors to help new […]

  14. Browser Notifications with Yip Says:

    […] uses libnotify/notify-osd on Ubuntu Linux, Growl on Mac, and Snarl or Growl for Windows on Windows. One disadvantage is that […]

  15. lanyards Says:

    Microsoft’s efforts to make Windows 7 less annoying than Vista may also be making it less secure than its predecessor. With Windows Vista, the operating system popped up a warning any time a major change was being made to the system, whether by the OS or by a third-party application. With Windows 7, users can choose how often to be notified, with the current default set to notify only when a third-party application is making a change.

  16. Evan Says:

    it is so hard to reach you. Are you getting my emails?

  17. The p-Code Machine » Epiphany with WebKit becoming a reality Says:

    […] at when Mark Shuttleworth made some comments about making bold moves in Ubuntu while announcing the new ephemeral notifications. I applaud the move to replace Pidgin with Empathy. I hope the same gets done by replacing […]

  18. namensschilder Says:

    hope that you know about the problems with translations used in Ubuntu

    best wishes

  19. Consacepo Says:

    I believe that its very unprofessional to keep supporting these older browsers, we as web designers should have some obvious and useful tools for the job, but these browsers makes it harder for beginners to catch up, and even makes the most skilled of us resort to pure guesswork as of how to get something to work in a given browser.

  20. prowista Says:

    oh, where is my comment?

  21. Mihir Patel Says:


    I Really like ubuntu for this kind of great features. Ubuntu is getting more and more users day by day because of a very user friendly and nice features.

    Thanks for sharing nice information. I am sure gonna try this today.


  22. psycholog Says:

    Finally, a decent way to present incoming telephone calls from sipwitch. Naturally I consider the most ā€œimportantā€ uses for notifications first

  23. Ubuntu Masih yg Terbaik @ Distro Watch dot Com « Kelincidungu’s Weblog Says:

    […] baru Semua notifikasi tergabung menjadi satu di kanan atas, dari mulai volume, batere, sampai notifikasi pidgin. Menarik […]

  24. mokume trauringe Says:

    I agree: the dark theme seems fine to me.

  25. Michael Grossman Says:

    Where will linux be in 15 years? in 100? Epicycles, metacycles, unicycles (just kidding!) sound a bit like hype to me and my Bologna detector starts to deflect full scale. Perhaps mandatory periodic releases may just result in mandatory, periodic reinvention of the wheel: for example, sleep on intel macbook (2,1) worked in Hardy, broke in Jaunty, seems again to work in Karmic. (Proprietary Video/Audio has never been great in ANY Linux, although I realize this is more the artificial result of crippling laws rather than the period of software cycles. )

    This may be too far out of the box, but perhaps we should be trying to lengthen the period between human interventions in software–with the ultimate goal of the period approaching infinity: the software maintains itself because it wants to exist and make more of itself. Why can’t a virus or a worm(s) be created to help people and do something useful? Could there ever be an operating system that consists entirely of virally reproducing, cooperative, symbiotic (with humans and each other, providing they do not occupy the same niche) software life?
    Such software life could be managed and weeded like a garden. Perhaps we are already on the brink of creating a new kind of life. Or perhaps we’ve already done it and not noticed, the software making humans run around and do silly repetitive things to serve its own semi-sentient reproductive goals?

    There goes my bologna-detector again: I think I blew its fuse.

  26. tardigrade Says:

    A few months on and I have got used to the notifications system, because I’m now familiar with it. I am still struggling to see it as an improvement though. My principle objections are that it is too slow. Almost any kind of notification tails behind the rest of the system telling me what’s going on, for example email, downloads, wi-fi network and even screen brightness. All of these were better with there previous notifications.

    Positioning in Karmic has not improved it’s got worse.

    The fact that the notifications fade on mouseover does not stop you from wanting to dismiss the notification and if you catch it too soon it actually focuses the notification rather than dimming it. Basically it’s in the way.

    It’s not actionable. I thought that I could accept this, but after a number of months I’ve realised that I can’t and it’s actually damned annoying and is definately counter productive.

    The bottom line is that, I like the notification concept. I didn’t accept it initially, but I’ve come to appreciate it. However this particular implementation of it, does not work and I am left wishing I could un-install it.

    I’m sorry to be so negative. But I believe that the notification system needs more work, and I’m frustrated enough with it to feel that it warrants such negative feedback. It’s broken and needs improvement because it doesn’t work as well as previous notifications did, particularly in relation to speed and legibility. As an enhancement it is simply not an enhancement at all. But it could be if developed correctly.

    It’s just very frustrating to see something that could work be a bane. Difficult to put my finger on what’s missing or what could lift it up, but then if I could I guess I would be a Guru and not a User.

    Looking forward to 10.4 anyway.

  27. linux Says:


    The first distro that I downloaded and, per force, bought was Linspire. (Yes, folks, not all Linux is free. This one cost me 50.) It installed painlessly on my Dell laptop at home, and is very slick. If you donā€™ t mind paying a little for stuff and wan…