Vicious is a modular widget library for the "awesome" window manager.
Latest commit b6c5a57 Oct 22, 2016 @Mellich Mellich committed with Added new wifi widget using iw (#20)
* added new wifi widget that uses iw


Vicious is a modular widget library for window managers, but mostly catering to users of the "awesome" window manager. It was derived from the old "Wicked" widget library, and has some of the old Wicked widget types, a few of them rewritten, and a good number of new ones:

Vicious widget types are a framework for creating your own widgets. Vicious contains modules that gather data about your system, and a few "awesome" helper functions that make it easier to register timers, suspend widgets and so on.

For now Vicious doesn't depend on any third party Lua libraries, to make it easier to install and use. That means some system utilities are used instead, where available:

  • hddtemp for the HDD Temperature widget type
  • alsa-utils for the Volume widget type
  • wireless_tools for the Wireless widget type
  • curl for widget types accessing network resources


When provided by an operating system package, or installed from source into the Lua library path Vicious can be used as a regular Lua library, to be used stand-alone or to feed widgets of any window manager (ie. Ion, WMII). It is compatible with both Lua v5.1 and v5.2.

  $ lua
  > widgets = require("vicious.widgets")
  > print(widgets.volume(nil, "Master")[1])

Usage within Awesome

To use Vicious with Awesome, install the package from your operating system provider, or download the source code and move it to your awesome configuration directory in $XDG_CONFIG_HOME (usually ~/.config):

$ mv vicious $XDG\_CONFIG\_HOME/awesome/

Vicious will only load modules for widget types you intend to use in your awesome configuration, to avoid having useless modules sitting in your memory.

Then add the following to the top of your rc.lua:

local vicious = require("vicious")

Once you create a widget (a textbox, graph or a progressbar) call vicious.register() to register it with Vicious:

vicious.register(widget, wtype, format, interval, warg)


  • widget created with widget() or awful.widget() (in case of a graph or a progressbar)


  • widget type or a function
    • any of the available (default, or custom) widget types can be used here, see below for a list of those provided by Vicious
  • function
    • custom functions from your own "awesome" configuration can be registered as widget types, see the "Custom widget types" section


  • string argument or a function
    • $1, $2, $3... will be replaced by their respective value returned by the widget type, some widget types return tables with string keys, in that case use: ${key}
  • function
    • function(widget, args) can be used to manipulate data returned by the widget type, more about this below


  • number of seconds between updates of the widget, 2s by default, also read the "Power" section below


  • some widget types require an argument to be passed, for example the battery ID

Other functions

Unregister a widget:

    vicious.unregister(widget, keep)

if keep is true widget will be suspended, waiting to be activated

Suspend all widgets:


example automation script for the "laptop-mode-tools" start-stop module:

Restart suspended widgets:


if widget is provided only that widget will be activated

Enable caching of a widget type:


enable caching of values returned by a widget type

Force update of widgets:

    vicious.force({ widget, })

widget argument is a table with one or more widgets that will be updated

Widget types

Widget types consist of worker functions that take the format argument given to vicious.register as the first argument, warg as the second, and return a table of values to insert in the format string.


  • provides CPU usage for all available CPUs/cores
  • returns 1st value as usage of all CPUs/cores, 2nd as usage of first CPU/core, 3rd as usage of second CPU/core etc.


  • provides speed and cache information for all available CPUs/cores
  • returns a table with string keys, using CPU ID as a base: {cpu0 mhz}, {cpu0 ghz}, {cpu0 kb}, {cpu0 mb}, {cpu1 mhz} etc.


  • provides freq, voltage and governor info for a requested CPU
  • takes the CPU ID as an argument, i.e. "cpu0"
  • returns 1st value as frequency of requested CPU in MHz, 2nd in GHz, 3rd as voltage in mV, 4th as voltage in V and 5th as the governor state


  • provides temperature levels of ACPI and coretemp thermal zones
  • takes the thermal zone as an argument, i.e. "thermal_zone0", or a table with 1st field as thermal zone, 2nd as data source - available data sources are "proc", "core" and "sys" (which is the default when only the zone is provided) and 3rd optional argument as a temperature input file to read
  • returns 1st value as temperature of requested thermal zone


  • provides system uptime and load information
  • returns 1st value as uptime in days, 2nd as uptime in hours, 3rd as uptime in minutes, 4th as load average for past 1 minute, 5th for 5 minutes and 6th for 15 minutes


  • provides state, charge, and remaining time for a requested battery
  • takes battery ID as an argument, i.e. "BAT0"
  • returns 1st value as state of requested battery, 2nd as charge level in percent, 3rd as remaining (charging or discharging) time and 4th as the wear level in percent


  • provides RAM and Swap usage statistics
  • returns 1st value as memory usage in percent, 2nd as memory usage, 3rd as total system memory, 4th as free memory, 5th as swap usage in percent, 6th as swap usage, 7th as total system swap, 8th as free swap and 9th as memory usage with buffers and cache


  • provides operating system information
  • returns 1st value as the operating system in use, 2nd as the release version, 3rd as your username, 4th the hostname, 5th as available system entropy and 6th value as available entropy in percent


  • provides file system disk space usage
  • takes an (optional) argument which, if true, includes remote file systems, only local file systems are included by default
  • returns a table with string keys, using mount points as a base: {/ size_mb}, {/ size_gb}, {/ used_mb}, {/ used_gb}, {/ used_p}, {/ avail_mb}, {/ avail_gb}, {/ avail_p}, {/home size_mb} etc.


  • provides I/O statistics for all available storage devices
  • returns a table with string keys: {sda total_s}, {sda total_kb}, {sda total_mb}, {sda read_s}, {sda read_kb}, {sda read_mb}, {sda write_s}, {sda write_kb}, {sda write_mb}, {sdb1 total_s} etc.

  • provides state information for a requested RAID array
  • takes the RAID array ID as an argument
  • returns 1st value as the number of assigned, and 2nd as active, devices in the array


  • provides hard drive temperatures using the hddtemp daemon
  • takes the hddtemp listening port as an argument, or defaults to port 7634
  • returns a table with string keys, using hard drives as a base: {/dev/sda} and {/dev/sdc} for example

  • provides state and usage statistics of all network interfaces
  • returns a table with string keys, using net interfaces as a base: {eth0 carrier}, {eth0 rx_b}, {eth0 tx_b}, {eth0 rx_kb}, {eth0 tx_kb}, {eth0 rx_mb}, {eth0 tx_mb}, {eth0 rx_gb}, {eth0 tx_gb}, {eth0 down_b}, {eth0 up_b}, {eth0 down_kb}, {eth0 up_kb}, {eth0 down_mb}, {eth0 up_mb}, {eth0 down_gb}, {eth0 up_gb}, {eth1 rx_b} etc.


  • provides wireless information for a requested interface
  • takes the network interface as an argument, i.e. "wlan0"
  • returns a table with string keys: {ssid}, {mode}, {chan}, {rate}, {link}, {linp} (link quality in percent) and {sign} (signal level)


  • similar to vicious.widgets.wifi, but uses iw instead of iwconfig
  • provides wireless information for a requested interface
  • takes the network interface as an argument, i.e. "wlan0"
  • returns a table with string keys: {ssid}, {mode}, {chan}, {rate}, {freq}, {linp} (link quality in percent), {txpw} (tx power) and {sign} (signal level)


  • provides the subject of last e-mail in a mbox file
  • takes the full path to the mbox as an argument, or a table with 1st field as path, 2nd as maximum length and 3rd (optional) as widget name - if 3rd field is present scrolling will be used (note: the path will be escaped so special variables like ~ will not work, use os.getenv("HOME").."mail" instead to access environment variables)
  • returns 1st value as the subject of the last e-mail


  • provides the count of total, old and new messages in mbox files
  • takes a table with full paths to mbox files as an argument
  • returns 1st value as the total count of messages, 2nd as the count of old messages and 3rd as the count of new messages


  • provides the number of new and unread messages in Maildir structures/directories
  • takes a table with full paths to Maildir structures as an argument
  • returns 1st value as the count of new messages and 2nd as the count of "old" messages lacking the Seen flag

  • provides count of new and subject of last e-mail on Gmail
  • takes an (optional) argument, if it's a number subject will be truncated, if a table, with 1st field as maximum length and 2nd the widget name (i.e. "gmailwidget"), scrolling will be used
  • keeps login information in the ~/.netrc file, example: machine login user password pass
  • returns a table with string keys: {count} and {subject}
  • to be able to use this widget, make sure in your Gmail account you disabled two step verification and then allowed access to your account for less secure apps

  • provides agenda statistics for Emacs org-mode
  • takes a table with full paths to agenda files, that will be parsed, as an argument
  • returns 1st value as count of tasks you forgot to do, 2nd as count of tasks for today, 3rd as count of tasks for the next 3 days and 4th as count of tasks to do in the week


  • provides number of pending updates on UNIX systems
  • takes the distribution name as an argument, i.e. "Arch"
  • returns 1st value as the count of available updates


  • provides Music Player Daemon information
  • takes a table as an argument, 1st field should be the password (or nil), 2nd the hostname (or nil) and 3rd port (or nil) - if no argument is provided connection attempt will be made to localhost port 6600 with no password
  • returns a table with string keys: {volume}, {state}, {Artist}, {Title}, {Album}, {Genre} and optionally {Name} and {file}


  • provides volume levels and state of requested ALSA mixers
  • takes the ALSA mixer control as an argument, i.e. "Master", optionally append the card ID or other options, i.e. "PCM -c 0"
  • returns 1st value as the volume level and 2nd as the mute state of the requested channel

  • provides weather information for a requested station
  • takes the ICAO station code as an argument, i.e. "LDRI"
  • returns a table with string keys: {city}, {wind}, {windmph}, {windkmh}, {sky}, {weather}, {tempf}, {tempc}, {humid}, {dewf}, {dewc}, {press}

  • provides access to, with optional time formatting provided as the format string - using regular date sequences
  • takes optional time offset, in seconds, as an argument for example to calculate time zone differences, otherwise current time is formatted
  • returns the output of, formatted by provided sequences

Custom widget types

Use any of the existing widget types as a starting point for your own. Write a quick worker function that does the work and plug it in. How data will be formatted, will it be red or blue, should be defined in rc.lua (or somewhere else, outside the actual module).

Before writing a widget type you should check if there is already one in the contrib directory of Vicious. The contrib directory contains extra widgets you can use. Some are for less common hardware, and other were contributed by Vicious users. The contrib directory also holds widget types that were obsoleted or rewritten. Contrib widgets will not be imported by init unless you explicitly enable it, or load them in your rc.lua.

Rudi Siegel, a FreeBSD user, published his FreeBSD branch. If you are also a BSD user you can find his work here:

Some users would like to avoid writing new modules. For them Vicious kept the old Wicked functionality, possibility to register their own functions as widget types. By providing them as the second argument to vicious.register. Your function can accept "format" and "warg" arguments, just like workers.

Power and Caching

When a lot of widgets are in use they, and awesome, can generate a lot of wake-ups and also be very expensive for system resources. This is especially important when running on battery power. It was a big problem with awesome v2 and widgets that used shell scripts to gather data, and with widget libraries written in languages like Ruby.

Lua is an extremely fast and efficient programming language, and Vicious takes advantage of that. But suspending Vicious widgets is one way to prevent them from draining your battery, despite that.

Update intervals also play a big role, and you can save a lot of power with a smart approach. Don't use intervals like: 5, 10, 30, 60... to avoid harmonics. If you take the 60-second mark as an example, all of your widgets would be executed at that point. Instead think about using only prime numbers, in that case you will have only a few widgets executed at any given time interval. When choosing intervals also consider what a widget actually does. Some widget types read files that reside in memory, others call external utilities and some, like the mbox widget, read big files.

Vicious can also cache values returned by widget types. Caching enables you to have multiple widgets using the same widget type. With caching its worker function gets executed only once - which is also great for saving power.

  • Some widget types keep internal data and if you call one multiple times without caching, the widget that executes it first would modify stored values. This can lead to problems and give you inconsistent data. Remember it for widget types like CPU and Network usage, which compare the old set of data with the new one to calculate current usage.

  • Widget types that require a widget argument to be passed should be handled carefully. If you are requesting information for different devices then caching should not be used, because you could get inconsistent data.


At the moment only one widget type (Gmail) requires auth. information in order to get to the data. In the future there could be more, and you should give some thought to the issue of protecting your data. The Gmail widget type by default stores login information in the ~/.netrc file, and you are advised to make sure that file is only readable by the owner. Other than that we can not force all users to conform to one standard, one way of keeping it secure, like in some keyring.

First let's clear why we simply don't encrypt the login information and store it in ciphertext. By exposing the algorithm anyone can reverse the encryption steps. Some claim even that's better than plaintext but it's just security trough obscurity.

Here are some ideas actually worth your time. Users that have KDE (or parts of it) installed could store their login information into the Kwallet service and request it via DBus from the widget type. It can be done with tools like "dbus-send" and "qdbus". The Gnome keyring should support the same, so those with parts of Gnome installed could use that keyring.

Users of GnuPG (and its agent) could consider encrypting the netrc file with their GPG key. Trough the GPG Passphrase Agent they could then decrypt the file transparently while their session is active.

Usage examples

Start with a simple widget, like date. Then build your setup from there, one widget at a time. Also remember that besides creating and registering widgets you have to add them to a wibox (statusbar) in order to actually display them.

Date widget

    datewidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(datewidget,, "%b %d, %R")

updated every 2 seconds (the default interval), uses standard date sequences as the format string

Memory widget

    memwidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(memwidget, vicious.widgets.mem, "$1 ($2MB/$3MB)", 13)

updated every 13 seconds, appends "MB" to 2nd and 3rd returned values and enables caching of this widget type

HDD temperature widget

    hddtempwidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(hddtempwidget, vicious.widgets.hddtemp, "${/dev/sda} °C", 19)

updated every 19 seconds, requests the temperature level of the {/dev/sda} key/disk and appends "°C" to the returned value, does not provide the port argument so default port is used

Mbox widget

    mboxwidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(mboxwidget, vicious.widgets.mbox, "$1", 5, "/home/user/mail/Inbox")

updated every 5 seconds, provides full path to the mbox as an argument

Battery widget

    batwidget = awful.widget.progressbar()
    batwidget:set_color({ type = "linear", from = { 0, 0 }, to = { 0, 10 },
      stops = {{ 0, "#AECF96" }, { 0.5, "#88A175" }, { 1, "#FF5656" }}})
    vicious.register(batwidget, vicious.widgets.bat, "$2", 61, "BAT0")

updated every 61 seconds, requests the current battery charge level and displays a progressbar, provides "BAT0" battery ID as an argument

CPU usage widget

    cpuwidget = awful.widget.graph()
    cpuwidget:set_color({ type = "linear", from = { 0, 0 }, to = { 50, 0 },
      stops = { { 0, "#FF5656" }, { 0.5, "#88A175" }, { 1, "#AECF96" }})
    vicious.register(cpuwidget, vicious.widgets.cpu, "$1", 3)

updated every 3 seconds, feeds the graph with total usage percentage of all CPUs/cores

Format functions

You can use a function instead of a string as the format parameter. Then you are able to check the value returned by the widget type and change it or perform some action. You can change the color of the battery widget when it goes below a certain point, hide widgets when they return a certain value or maybe use string.format for padding.

  • Do not confuse this with just coloring the widget, in those cases standard pango markup can be inserted into the format string.

The format function will get the widget as its first argument, table with the values otherwise inserted into the format string as its second argument, and will return the text/data to be used for the widget.


    mpdwidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(mpdwidget, vicious.widgets.mpd,
     function (widget, args)
       if   args["{state}"] == "Stop" then return ""
       else return '<span color="white">MPD:</span> '..
             args["{Artist}"]..' - '.. args["{Title}"]

hides the mpd widget when no song is playing, updated every 2 seconds (the default interval)


    uptimewidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    vicious.register(uptimewidget, vicious.widgets.uptime,
      function (widget, args)
        return string.format("Uptime: %2dd %02d:%02d ", args[1], args[2], args[3])
      end, 61)

uses string.format for padding uptime values to a minimum amount of digits, updated every 61 seconds

When it comes to padding it is also useful to mention how a widget can be configured to have a fixed width. You can set a fixed width on your textbox widgets by changing their .width field (by default width is automatically adapted to text width).


    uptimewidget = widget({ type = "textbox" })
    uptimewidget.width, uptimewidget.align = 50, "right"
    vicious.register(uptimewidget, vicious.widgets.uptime, "$1 $2:$3", 61)

forces a fixed width of 50px to the uptime widget, and aligns its text to the right

Another use case are stacked graphs (aka multigraphs) which Vicious does not handle on its own at the moment, as it's hard to pass on color index arguments elegantly. But they are not unusable, far from it.


    ctext = widget({ type = "textbox"})
    cgraph = awful.widget.graph()
    cgraph:set_stack_colors({ "#FF5656", "#88A175", "#AECF96" })
    vicious.register(ctext, vicious.widgets.cpu,
      function (widget, args)
        cgraph:add_value(args[2], 1) -- Core 1, color 1
        cgraph:add_value(args[3], 2) -- Core 2, color 2
        cgraph:add_value(args[4], 3) -- Core 3, color 3
      end, 3)

enables graph stacking/multigraph and plots usage of all three CPU cores on a single graph, the textbox "ctext" is just an empty placeholder, graph is updated every 3 seconds

A lot of users are not happy with default symbols used in volume, battery, cpufreq and other widget types. You can use your own symbols without any need to modify modules.

  volumewidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
  vicious.register(volumewidget, vicious.widgets.volume,
    function(widget, args)
      local label = { [""] = "O", [""] = "M" }
      return "Volume: " .. args[1] .. "% State: " .. label[args[2]]
    end, 2, "PCM")
  • uses a custom table map to modify symbols representing the mixer state; on or off/mute


Read "awesome" manual pages:

  • awesome(1) awesomerc(5)

Awesome widgets explained

Example "awesome" configuration

Example "awesome" configuration:


Wicked written by:

  • Lucas de Vries <lucas>

Vicious written by:

  • Adrian C. (anrxc) <anrxc>

Vicious major contributors:

  • Benedikt Sauer <filmor>
  • Greg D. <jabbas>
  • Henning Glawe <glaweh>
  • Rémy C. <shikamaru>
  • Hiltjo Posthuma <hiltjo>
  • Hagen Schink <troja84>
  • Jörg Thalheim <jthalheim>
  • Arvydas Sidorenko <asido4>
  • Dodo The Last
  • ...
  • Consult git log for a complete list of contributors