2 Ways to Make Ubuntu Notification More User Friendly

The Ubuntu notification bubble (aka NotifyOSD) is one thing that I love and hate at the same time. I love how it is able to show notification in a nice and elegant way, yet I hate that it didn’t come with any configuration options for me to customize it. There’s no way I can close the bubble (when it appears), nor the timing or location of its appearance.

To be able to customize the NotifyOSD, there are 2 ways to go about doing it: using the patched NotifyOSD or use AWN.

1. Patched NotifyOSD

The patched NotifyOSD is a simple script that patches the existing notify-osd to provide some configuration options for the users. We have previously mentioned this for Ubuntu Lucid, but the updated version for Natty comes with more features such as click to close the bubble and prevent fade when mouseover.

To install the patched notifyosd, open a terminal and type the following:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:leolik/leolik 
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install libnotify-bin

Next, open a text editor and paste the following code:

bubble-expire-timeout = 10sec
bubble-vertical-gap = 5px
bubble-horizontal-gap = 5px
bubble-corner-radius = 37,5%
bubble-icon-size = 30px
bubble-gauge-size = 6px
bubble-width = 240px
bubble-background-color = 131313
bubble-background-opacity = 90%
text-margin-size = 10px
text-title-size = 100%
text-title-weight = bold
text-title-color = ffffff
text-title-opacity = 100%
text-body-size = 90%
text-body-weight = normal
text-body-color = eaeaea
text-body-opacity = 100%
text-shadow-opacity = 100%
bubble-prevent-fade = 1
bubble-close-on-click = 1

Save the file as .notify-osd in your Home folder.

Alternatively, you can download this notify-osd file, rename it as .notify-osd and place it in your home folder.

Update: Webupd8 has a PPA for notifyosd config.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install notifyosdconfig

Each line in the file represents one configuration option for the NotifyOSD. You can change the value to your liking.

To change the position of the notification bubble, use the command

gconftool-2 -s /apps/notify-osd/gravity --type=int [number]

where is [number]:
1 – top-right corner
2 – middle-right
3 – bottom-right corner
4 – bottom-left corner
5 – middle-left
6 – top-left corner

Lastly, restart NotifyOSD

pkill notify-osd

Note: You can also use the NotifyOSD Config GUI to configure the notify-osd options, but it is not updated for Natty and it doesn’t include the prevent fade and click to close functions.

2. Using the AWN Notification Daemon

If you are already using the Avant Windows Navigator (AWN) dock, you can install the notification daemon applet and it will replace the existing NotifyOSD as the default notification bubble. This notification daemon applet comes with a “Click to close” function and you can position it in the location you like.

If you have not installed AWN:

sudo apt-get install avant-window-navigator

Open the AWN Preferences and go to the “Applets” tab. Add the Notification Daemon to the Active Applets list.



To configure the notification bubble, you will have to go to the gconf-editor to make the changes. Press Alt + F2 and type gconf-editor. On the left, navigate to Apps -> AWN-applet-notification-daemon


That’s it. Which way do you use to customize your notification bubble?


Damien Oh started writing tech articles since 2007 and has over 10 years of experience in the tech industry. He is proficient in Windows, Linux, Mac, Android and iOS, and worked as a part time WordPress Developer. He is currently the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Make Tech Easier.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox