what is it?
sauron is an emacs mode for keeping track of events happening in the
(emacs) world around you. Events are things like ‘appointment in 5 minutes’,
‘bob pinged you on IRC’, ‘torrent download is complete’ etc. Sauron shows
those events like a list – basically like a log. You can ‘activate’ an event
by either pressing
RET when point is on it, or clicking it with the middle
mouse button (
When activated, it can execute some arbitrary function – for example in the case of IRC (ERC), it will switch you to the buffer (channel) it originated from. It’s a bit of a generalization of what tracking mode does in ERC (the emacs IRC client), and that is in fact how it started.
There’s an increasing number of hooks and tunables in sauron, which allows you to fine-tune the behavior. However, I strive for it to be useful with minimal configuration.
After you’ve put the various sauron files in a directory, you can enable it
with something like the following in your
;; set load path, obviously replace “<path-to-sauron-dir>” with the actual path…
(add-to-list 'load-path "<path-to-sauron-dir>") (require 'sauron)
Now, you can start sauron with…
M-x sauron-start, and stop it with
sauron-start will pop-up a new frame (window) which will show events coming
from any of its sources (i.e., ERC, org-mode appointments, D-Bus). You can
‘activate’ a source by pressing “Enter” with the cursor on the event, which
will then take some backend-specific action.
For example, for the ERC-backend, it will transfer you to the buffer
(IRC-channel) where said event happened. You can clear all events with
sauron-clear (default keybinding:
You can toggle between showing and hiding of the Sauron frame or window using
Sauron (by default) loads the
modules; if you don’t have ERC, org-mode or d-bus support, these will simply
be ignored. If so desired, you can customize
sauron-modules. See below for
some specifics about the backends.
I’ve tried hard to come up with reasonable defaults, such that users can get started with sauron without reading too much documentation or having to write elisp etc.; still, I’ve also tried to make sauron very configurable - different people have different needs, so it should be possible to coerce the software in whatever direction.
Below are some customization points.
Sauron can be shown either as a separate frame (the default), or embedded in
your current frame. For the latter, set
(setq sauron-separate-frame nil)
Note, this latter option (embedded sauron) is experimental. Emacs does not
make it easy to do this reliable. Note, you can use:
sauron-toggle-hide-show to hide/show the sauron frame or window.
You can customize the columns shown in the sauron buffer by setting
sauron-column-alist - see its documentation.
You can remove the mode-line in the sauron-buffer by setting
(setq sauron-hide-mode-line t)
You can make the Sauron window appear on every (virtual) desktop by setting
sauron-sticky-add to t, i.e..
(setq sauron-sticky-frame t)
in your configuration. Depending on your window manager, this may also set the frame to be always-on-top. Obviously, this is only effective if you use sauron in a separate frame.
Each event in sauron has a certain priority. Sauron ignores all events
which have a priority that is lower that
For example, all messages written on IRC (i.e., coming from the ERC-backend) which are not directed towards you have priority 2 – you will not see them. And that is probably a good idea.
watching patterns –
You can specify a list of patterns (regular expressions) which sauron should check. An event matching any of the patterns in the list will have its priority raised by 1 point. If that one point raises it to `sauron-min-priority’ or higher level, it will now show up in the Sauron buffer.
sauron-watch-patterns is useful if you want to check if, for example, your
name, or your hobby project is mentioned in some IRC channel.
So, for example, as part of your settings:
;; watch for some animals (setq sauron-watch-patterns '("\\bgnu\\b" "yak" "capybara" "wombat"))
watching nicks –
You can also specify a list of nicks to watch for; nicks are matched using a string-match (not a regular expression). A nick matching any of the nicks in the list will have its priority raised by 1 point. If that one point raises it to `sauron-min-priority’ or higher level, it will now show up in the Sauron buffer.
don’t get swamped by a certain nick
Since you may not want to get too many events from one nick – and, who knows, accompanying sound effects, pop-ups and what have you, you can set some insensitivity time; events from the same nick during this time will be lowered in priority by one point.
You can set the time period (in seconds) with `sauron-nick-insensitivity’, which defaults to 60 seconds.
blocking events from showing up –
We can customize things even more precisely using the
sauron-event-block-functions hook function. Any event with a priority >=
sauron-min-priority will be passed to the hook function(s); if any of
those functions returns non-nil, the event will be blocked. See the emacs
documentation for a general introduction to hook functions, here’s an
(add-hook 'sauron-event-block-functions (lambda (origin prio msg &optional props) (or (string-match "foo" msg) ;; ignore events that match 'foo' ;; other matchers )))
Note that the
props parameter is a backend specific property-list, which
allows you e.g. (for the ERC-backend) to get the sender of some ERC message,
and block based on that.
doing stuff based on events –
After events have been added, another hook is called:
This is place to add sound effects, notifications and so on. After all, if you get an event for e.g. the org-mode backend that you have a meeting to attend in 5 minutes, simply adding a line in the Sauron-buffer may not be enough.
Instead, you can define a hook function for this.
For doing very sound effects, pop-ups etc., a few convenience functions are provided:
sauron-fx-sox(play a sound using ‘sox’)
sauron-fx-aplay(play a sound using ‘aplay’)
sauron-fx-gnome-osd(show some letters on your screen)
sauron-fx-zenity(pop up a zenity window)
sauron-fx-notify(trigger a notification using the D-Bus notification daemon)
(see the doc-strings for the functions for the details about their parameters).
Now, our hook function could look something like:
(add-hook 'sauron-event-added-functions (lambda (origin prio msg &optional props) (if (string-match "ping" msg) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/ping.wav") (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/something-happened.wav")) (when (>= prio 4) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/uhoh.wav") (sauron-fx-gnome-osd msg 10))))
Seeing all events
Sometimes, you may want to see all events instead of filtering them, for
example for debugging purposes. For this, there is the variable
sauron-log-events. If you set it to
t, all events will be shown in a
*Sauron Log*. This buffer shows up to
sauron-log-buffer-max-lines (default: 1000) lines of the last events.
connecting to alert.el
John Wiegley’s alert.el has a bit of overlap with sauron; however, I’ve added some wrapper function to make it trivial to feed sauron events into alert. Simply adding:
(add-hook 'sauron-event-added-functions 'sauron-alert-el-adapter)
in your setup should do the trick (of course,
alert.el must be loaded).
the backend modules
Currently, 8 backend modules have been implemented:
- erc - for ERC, the emacs IRC client
- org-mode - for tracking
- notifications - for the emacs24+
- d-bus - for
- identica - for
identica-mode, the social-network site
- twittering - for
twittering-mode, the emacs twitter client
- jabber - for
jabber, the IM protocol (XMPP)
- elfeed - for
elfeed, an emacs Atom/RSS feed reader
saurontries to load all of them; this should work, even if you don’t have some of these packages (they simply won’t be activated).
If you do not want to load some module, see the variable
The ERC module check all IRC PRIVMSG messages, and JOIN/LEAVE/QUIT messages. PRIVMSG includes the messages sent to any channel by anyone. These message are given (by default) priority 2, so (by default) they do not show up in your sauron buffer.
However, messages that match one of your
sauron-watch-nicks are getting a higher priority, or messages that are
private messages directed at you. However, after sending a message, you
won’t get notified from the same nick for another 60 seconds (by default –
sauron-nick-insensitivity), so you won’t get e.g. sound effects for
each message in a private conversation.
org-mode / appt
For org-mode, sauron adds functionality to
leaves it intact), so that whenever some event is near, you get a
notification with the following priorities:
- 15 minutes left: priority 3
- 10 minutes left: priority 3
- 5 minutes left: priority 4
- 2 minutes left: priority 5
For all other minutes, you’ll get events with priority 2.
Note that you can influence the number of warnings and the time they start
by setting the variables
appt-message-warning-time, as documented in emacs manual.
You should load org before starting sauron, in particular before you set
appt-disp-window-function, as sauron-org uses that same function (it will
preserve the existing functionality though).
The dbus backend allows you to get events from outside emacs; it listens for
AddMsgEvent. You can call them like this:
dbus-send --session --dest="org.gnu.Emacs" \ --type=method_call \ "/org/gnu/Emacs/Sauron" \ "org.gnu.Emacs.Sauron.AddUrlEvent" \ string:shell uint32:3 string:"Link: Emacs-Fu" \ string:"http://emacs-fu.blogspot.com"
The four parameters are resp. the originator (‘shell’), the priority (‘3’ in the example), a description and a URL. This will show up in the sauron buffer (if the priority is high enough), and if you activate the event (press RET), your browser will visit the link.
dbus-send --session \ --dest="org.gnu.Emacs" \ --type=method_call \ "/org/gnu/Emacs/Sauron" \ "org.gnu.Emacs.Sauron.AddMsgEvent" \ string:shell uint32:3 string:"Hello, world!"
The three parameters are resp. the sender (‘shell’), the priority (‘3’ in the example), and message. This will show up in the sauron buffer (if the priority is high enough).
As an example, you can get a notification when torrent has been completed in ‘Transmission’. In the torrent-completion script (see Preferences/ Call-script-when-torrent-is-completed), add something like:
dbus-send --session \ --dest="org.gnu.Emacs" \ --type=method_call \ "/org/gnu/Emacs/Sauron" \ "org.gnu.Emacs.Sauron.AddMsgEvent" \ string:Transmission uint32:3 string:"Torrent completed: $TR_TORRENT_NAME"
You also need to enable the web client support in Transmission - it’s in the ‘Web’ tab of the preferences dialog.
Note, if you start transmission before you start your session, see `Using D-Bus outside your session’.
Using D-Bus outside your session
Note, you normally only use D-Bus (i.e.., the d-bus session bus) when you are in
the same session – say, your desktop environment. Thus, it is generally not
possible to send yourself D-Bus messages from programs outside your session, for
example something running from
For this, if you set
sauron-dbus-cookie to non-nil (before starting sauron),
it will drop a file
~/.sauron-dbus which contains the D-Bus session bus
DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS). Using this address you can, in fact, send
messages to sauron from outside your session, by doing something like in the
previous examples, but first setting
DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS="`cat ~/.sauron-dbus`" dbus-send ....
We don’t write
~/.sauron-dbus as there may be security downsides to this -
even though normally other users are not allowed to send to ‘your’ session bus,
even with the cookie, it’s always good to be a bit paranoid.
sauron-notifications tracks notifications sent using `notifications-notify’, which was added in emacs 24. You can use `sauron-notifications-urgency-to-priority-plist’ for the mapping of the ‘urgency’ field of notification to the sauron’s priority field.
Note, one should be careful when calling `notifications-notify’ from functions listed in the `sauron-event-added-functions’ hook, as to not create some infinite recursion.
sauron-identica shows the number of new dents found by
there is at least one new dent.
sauron-twittering shows the number of new tweets found by
twittering-mode whenever there is at least one new tweet.
twittering-username is set, it will also show @-mentions when new
sauron-jabber shows events from
jabber.el, this includes new messages, info
messages, presence alerts and lost connections.
The info, presence and connection events get priority 2, so by default you won’t get to see these. The others get priority 3, so those should be visible by default.
sauron-elfeed show events from elfeed.el, this include new entries in each feed.
By default, all events get priority 2 therefore you won’t get to see these. However, it is possible to configure the priority using the following instruction
(puthash url priority sauron-elfeed-prio-hash)
adding new modules
It may be interesting to track other modules as well; this shouldn’t be too hard. Suppose we have a module ‘foo’:
- create “sauron-foo.el”, and make sure it’s in the load-path
- sauron-foo should implement at least:
sauron-foo-startto start the module; this function should return
tif startup is successful,
sauron-foo-stopto stop the module / cleanup etc.
- add sauron-foo.el with
- now, add
Now, to actually make your module useful, you’d want to add some event is
something happens. This is done using
sauron-add-event (see it’s
sauron in other elisp
If you want to create simple sauron-events from other elisp code, writing a
backend modules might be unnecessary; you can simply call the
sauron-add-event function directly. See its docstring for the details. Example:
(sauron-add-event 'kitchen ;; origin 3 ;; priority "Coffee is ready!" '(lambda () ;; function called when activated (message "Coffee's ready, get it while it's hot!")) '(:temperature 80)) ;; arbitrary props passed to ;; hook functions
A typical pattern may also be to switch to the buffer of origin when the
event is activated. The
sauron-switch-to-marker-or-buffer function may be
useful there, as it tries to ensure that the buffer is shown in the other
frame (not the one with Sauron).
(require 'sauron) ;; note, you add (setq sauron-debug t) to get errors which can debug if ;; there's something wrong; normally, we catch such errors, since e.g an error ;; in one of the hooks may cause ERC to fail (i.e., the message won't come ;; trough). (global-set-key (kbd "C-c s") 'sauron-toggle-hide-show) (global-set-key (kbd "C-c t") 'sauron-clear) (setq sauron-max-line-length 120 ;; uncomment to show sauron in the current frame ;; sauron-separate-frame nil ;; you probably want to add your own nickname to the these patterns sauron-watch-patterns '("emacs-fu" "emacsfu" "wombat" "capybara" "yak" "gnu" "\\bmu\\b") ;; you probably want to add you own nick here as well sauron-watch-nicks '("Tom" "Dick" "Harry")) ;; some sound/light effects for certain events (add-hook 'sauron-event-added-functions (lambda (origin prio msg &optional props) (if (string-match "ping" msg) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/ping.wav")) (cond ((= prio 3) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/pling.wav")) ((= prio 4) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/plong.wav")) ((= prio 5) (sauron-fx-sox "/usr/share/sounds/alarm.wav") (sauron-fx-gnome-osd(format "%S: %s" origin msg) 5))))) ;; events to ignore (add-hook 'sauron-event-block-functions (lambda (origin prio msg &optional props) (or (string-match "^*** Users" msg)))) ;; filter out IRC spam