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Copyright (c) the Notion team 2010-2019. Copyright (c) Tuomo Valkonen 1999-2009.

Building and installing

  1. Get the source code.
git clone
  1. In addition to the standard C library headers and the GNU toolchain, you will need the following tools and libraries for building Notion.

    If you want to build the mod_xinerama and mod_xrandr module, which provide enhanced multihead support, you will further need the following libraries.

    If you want to enable support for Xft fonts, you need libxft:

    On a Debian based system, these dependencies are provided by the following packages. build-essential lua5.4 liblua5.4-dev libx11-dev libxext-dev libsm-dev gettext libxinerama-dev libxrandr-dev libxft-dev

  2. If the default build settings don't suit you, review and either override values from the environment or in a newly added or make changes directly to

  3. If you want to build some extra modules now or do not want to build some of the standard modules, edit

  4. Run make. Note that make here refers to GNU make which is usually named gmake on systems with some other implementation of make as default.

  5. Run make install, as root if you set $PREFIX in to a directory that requires those privileges.

    YOU SHOULD NOT SKIP THIS STEP unless you know what you are doing. Notion will refuse to start if it can not find all the necessary uncorrupt configuration files either in $PREFIX/etc/notion/ or in ~/.notion/.

  6. How to best set up startx or whatever to start Notion instead of your current window manager depends on your system's setup. A good guess is creating or modifying an executable shell script .xsession in your home directory to start Notion. This should usually (but not always) work if you're using some X display/login manager. If ~/.xsession does not help and you're not using a display manager, modifying ~/.xinitrc or creating one based on your system's xinitrc (wherever that may be; use locate) may be what you need to do. Note that unlike .xsession, a .xinitrc should usually do much more setup than simply start a few programs of your choice.

Some optional installation steps

  1. The F5 and F6 keys expect to find the program run-mailcap to select a program to view a file based on its guessed MIME type. Unless you are using Debian, most likely you don't have it, but any other similar program (or just plain old text editor) will do as well -- just modify the bindings in cfg_notioncore.lua. Of course, if you don't want to use the feature at this time or never, you may simply skip this step. If you want to use run-mailcap, it can be found from the following address, as a source tarball as well:

  2. Notion supports caching known man-pages in a file for faster man-page completion in the F1 man page query. To enable this feature, you must periodically run a cronjob to build this list. To create a system-wide man page cache, run crontab -e (might vary depending on platform) as root and enter a line such as follows:

     15 05 * * * $SHAREDIR/ion-completeman -mksyscache

    Replace $SHAREDIR with the setting from (or if you used autoconf). This example runs daily at 05:15, but you may modify the run times to your needs; see the crontab manual.

    If you can't or do not want to build a system-wide man page cache, run crontab -e as your normal user and replace -mksyscache with -mkusercache above. The cache file will be ~/.notion/mancache.

    It may also be useful to run ion-completeman with the suitable -mk*cache argument once manually to build the initial cache.

    If the MANPATH environment variable is not set on your system and it does not have the manpath command (or it does not print anything sensible), you may also want to set the ION_MANPATH environment variable to the list of paths where the system stores manual pages.


For help on modifying Notion's configuration files, PLEASE READ THE DOCUMENT "Configuring and extending Notion with Lua" available from the Notion web page, listed at the top of this file.

Questions, comments, problems?

If the available documentation does not answer your question, please join our IRC channel, #notion on freenode.


Contributions to Notion are very welcome! Please join us on GitHub. The Notes for the module and patch writer might be helpful.


Notion was written by the Notion team, based on Ion which was written by Tuomo Valkonen.

The dock module was written by Tom Payne and Per Olofsson.

utils/ion-completefile/ion-completefile.c is based on editline, (c) 1992 Simmule Turner and Rich Salz. See the file for details.

The code that de/fontset.c is based on was apparently originally written by Tomohiro Kubota; see

Various (minor) patches have been contributed by other individuals unlisted here. See the mailing list archives and the darcs source repository history (previously at For translators see the individual .po files in po/.

See libtu/README for code by others integrated into libtu.