How to Easily Customize NotifyOSD in Ubuntu Lucid

The NotifyOSD was introduced since Ubuntu Jaunty. It acts like the Growl in Mac and present an (supposedly) unobstructive notification to the user. Some people like it, but plenty of others found it disruptive. For those who hate it, one of the major complaint is that there is no (easy) way to configure the settings, such as the shape, size, text, position etc and sometime it takes too time to stay on the screen. Not anymore. With NotifyOSD Configuration, you can now easily customize the NotifyOSD bubble to your liking, without any coding, compiling or hacking involved.

NotifyOSD Configuration is a GUI for you to customize your NotifyOSD. It is built on top of the patched NotifyOSD (post is in Russian) that allows you to customize your notification bubble via a simple text file.

Download NotifyOSD Configuration

To get NotifyOSD Configuration working, we need to first install the patched NotifyOSD. In your terminal:

Once you have patched your NotifyOSD, install NotifyOSD Configuration via the following command:

For Ubuntu Karmic and Lucid:

If you are using Ubuntu Maverick, the above repository won’t work. You have to download the .deb file and manually install it in your system.

After the installation, you can find the application at “Applications -> Accessories -> NotifyOSD Configuration”.

Customizing your notification bubble

On the main screen, you will see plenty of options. The options are mainly divided into two sections: the bubble and the text (within the bubble). In the bubble tab, you can configure the positioning (fixed or dynamic), the time the bubble will appear on the screen, the background color, opacity, corner radius etc.


In the text section, you can customize the text color, size, opacity, shadow and many other settings.


When you are done with the customization, simply click Apply and a preview of the configured bubble will appear on the screen.


Saving theme

Another feature of NotifyOSD Configuration is that after you have done your configuration, you can save it as a new theme. You can use this theme file as a backup of your current settings, or if you have multiple computer running Ubuntu, you can move the theme over and get the other computer to run with the same setting.


The theme is saved in the .notifyosdconf folder in your Home directory. It is a hidden folder, so you will need to press “Ctrl + H” in your Nautilus to view all the hidden folders.

There is also a Reset feature, so if you messed up the settings, you can easily revert back to the default settings.


Even though I find the default NotifyOSD useful, there are times where it is disruptive and break my concentration level. I am glad that finally there is a mean to configure it. It is not a tool that you will use everyday (most of the time, you just configure it and leave it), but it is definitely a tool that you will need for better productivity. What I hope to see in the future is the integration of this customization ability into the core of Ubuntu. What do you think?

Note: Even though the title says Ubuntu Lucid, NotifyOSD Configuration will work in Ubuntu Karmic as well.

Damien Damien

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.


  1. Why not adding the option to change the position from top-right corner to another place (like bottom-right)?

  2. The GUI doesn't come with the option to change the position, but you can change it from the terminal:

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

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

  3. AFAICT, only 1 (top-right) and 2 (middle-right) actually do anything. The other numbers seem to all squash to top-right.

  4. Close on click. If they could be configured to close on click, that would unbreak them once and for all.

    1. the notifyOSDconfig currently work for Lucid and Karmic only. It doesn’t come with a Maverick version, that explains the 404

          1. I followed the instructions on here:

            Pretty sure that was it, anyway.

  5. This is great solution! Thank you very much… Default notification position is really annoying. It should be fixed to next release…

    1. I don’t think it will be fixed. Canonical don’t even think it is an issue, let alone fixing it. The last thing they want is for NotifyOSD to be customizable.

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