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🌱 herbe

Daemon-less notifications without D-Bus. Minimal and lightweight.


  • Under 200 lines of code
  • Doesn't run in the background, just displays the notification and exits
  • No external dependencies except Xlib and Xft
  • Configurable through config.h or Xresources (using this patch)
  • Actions support
  • Extensible through patches

Table of contents



List of available patches

To create a new patch you'll have to open a pull request with your changes. Append .diff to the pull request URL to get a downloadable diff file. Don't forget to prefix the title with patch: and to apply the patch label to it. For inspiration, look at my Xresources patch. Thank you.

Note: This patching method was heavily inspired by dylan's sowm.

Dismiss a notification

A notification can be dismissed either by clicking on it with DISMISS_BUTTON (set in config.h, defaults to left mouse button) or sending a SIGUSR1 signal to it:

$ pkill -SIGUSR1 herbe

Dismissed notifications return exit code 2.


Action is a piece of shell code that runs when a notification gets accepted. Accepting a notification is the same as dismissing it, but you have to use either ACTION_BUTTON (defaults to right mouse button) or the SIGUSR2 signal. An accepted notification always returns exit code 0. To specify an action:

$ herbe "Notification body" && echo "This is an action"

Where everything after && is the action and will get executed after the notification gets accepted.


Every command line argument gets printed on a separate line by default e.g.:

$ herbe "First line" "Second line" "Third line" ...

You can also use \n e.g. in bash:

$ herbe $'First line\nSecond line\nThird line'

But by default herbe prints \n literally:

$ herbe "First line\nStill the first line"

Output of other programs will get printed correctly, just make sure to escape it (so you don't end up with every word on a separate line):

$ herbe "$(ps axch -o cmd:15,%cpu --sort=-%cpu | head)"

Multiple notifications

Notifications are put in a queue and shown one after another in order of creation (first in, first out). They don't overlap and each one is shown for its entire duration.

Notifications don't show up

Most likely a running notification got terminated forcefully (SIGKILL or any uncaught signal) which caused the semaphore not getting unlocked. First, kill any herbe instance that is stuck:

$ pkill -SIGKILL herbe

Then just call herbe without any arguments:

$ herbe

Notifications should now show up as expected.

Don't ever send any signals to herbe except these:

# same as pkill -SIGTERM herbe, terminates every running herbe process
$ pkill herbe

$ pkill -SIGUSR1 herbe
$ pkill -SIGUSR2 herbe

And you should be fine. That's all you really need to interact with herbe.



Packaging status

OpenBSD patch

FreeBSD patch

Wayland port by muevoid

Only the herbe-git AUR package is maintained by me.


  • X11 (Xlib)
  • Xft

The names of packages are different depending on which distribution you use. For example, if you use Void Linux you will have to install these dependencies:

sudo xbps-install base-devel libX11-devel libXft-devel


git clone
cd herbe
sudo make install

make install requires root privileges because it copies the resulting binary to /usr/local/bin. This makes herbe accessible globally.

You can also use make clean to remove the binary from the build folder, sudo make uninstall to remove the binary from /usr/local/bin or just make to build the binary locally.


herbe is configured at compile-time by editing config.h. Every option should be self-explanatory. There is no height option because height is determined by font size and text padding.

Xresources patch


If you want to report a bug or you have a feature request, feel free to open an issue.

Projects with herbe integration

  • qutebrowser supports showing web notifications via herbe, via the content.notifications.presenter setting.