Vicious is a modular widget library for the "awesome" window manager.
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Mic92 and McSinyx move format_progress to mpd module
The function is not used by any other module and is only really useful
for formatting durations as exposed by mpd.
Latest commit d11703d Dec 14, 2018


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. Vicious doesn't depend on any third party Lua libraries, but may depend on additional system utilities (see widget description).


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 (e.g. Ion, WMII). It is compatible with both Lua v5.1 and v5.2.

> widgets = require("vicious.widgets.init")
> 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)


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


Type: Vicious widget or function:


Type: string or function:

  • string: $key will be replaced by respective value in the table t returned by the widget type. I.e. use $1, $2, etc. to retrieve data from an integer-indexed table (a.k.a. array); ${foo bar} will be substituted by t["{foo bar}"].
  • function (widget, args) can be used to manipulate data returned by the widget type (see Format functions).


Number of seconds between updates of the widget (default: 2). Read section Power and Caching for more information.


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 == true, widget will be suspended and wait for activation.

Suspend all widgets


See 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


wtable is a table of one or more widgets to be updated.

Get data from a widget, format, warg)

Fetch data from widget to use it outside from the wibox (example).

Widget types

Widget types consist of worker functions that take two arguments format and warg (in that order), which were previously passed to vicious.register, and return a table of values to be formatted by format.


Provides state, charge, and remaining time for a requested battery.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux (require sysfs), FreeBSD (require acpiconf).

  • warg (from now on will be called argument):
    • On GNU/Linux: battery ID, e.g. "BAT0"
    • On FreeBSD (optional): battery ID, e.g. "batt" or "0"
  • Returns an array (integer-indexed table) consisting of:
    • $1: State of requested battery
    • $2: Charge level in percent
    • $3: Remaining (charging or discharging) time
    • $4: Wear level in percent
    • $5: Current (dis)charge rate in Watt


Provides CPU usage for all available CPUs/cores.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

Returns an array containing:

  • $1: usage of all CPUs/cores
  • $2, $3, etc. are respectively the usage of 1st, 2nd, etc. CPU/core


Provides freq, voltage and governor info for a requested CPU.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

  • Argument: CPU ID, e.g. "cpu0" on GNU/Linux, "0" on FreeBSD
  • Returns an array containing:
    • $1: Frequency in MHz
    • $2: Frequency in GHz
    • $3: Voltage in mV
    • $4: Voltage in V
    • $5: Governor state
    • On FreeBSD: only the first two are supported (other values will always be "N/A")


Provides speed and cache information for all available CPUs/cores.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux.

Returns a table whose keys using CPU ID as a base, e.g. ${cpu0 mhz}, ${cpu0 ghz}, ${cpu0 kb}, ${cpu0 mb}, ${cpu1 mhz}, etc.

Provides access to Lua's, with optional settings for time format and time offset.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • format (optional): a strftime(3) format specification string (format functions are not supported). If not provided, use the prefered representation for the current locale.
  • Argument (optional): time offset in seconds, e.g. for different a time zone. If not provided, current time is used.
  • Returns the output of formatted by format string.


Provides I/O statistics for all available storage devices.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux.

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}, ${sda iotime_ms}, ${sda iotime_s}, ${sdb1 total_s}, etc.


Provides fanspeed information for specified fan.

Supported platforms: FreeBSD.

  • Argument: full sysctl string to entry, e.g. "dev.acpi_ibm.0.fan_speed"
  • Returns speed of specified fan in RPM, -1 on error (probably wrong string)


Provides usage of disk space.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument (optional): if true includes remote filesystems, otherwise fallback to default, where only local filesystems are included.
  • Returns a table with string keys, using mount points as a base, e.g. ${/ size_mb}, ${/ size_gb}, ${/ used_mb}, ${/ used_gb}, ${/ used_p}, ${/ avail_mb}, ${/ avail_gb}, ${/ avail_p}, ${/home size_mb}, etc.

Provides count of new and subject of last e-mail on Gmail.

Supported platform: platform independent, requiring curl.

This widget expects login information in your ~/.netrc file, e.g. machine login user password pass and you have to disable two step verification. Allow access for less secure apps afterwards.


  • Arguments (optional): either a number or a table
    • If it is a number, subject will be truncated.
    • If it is a table whose first field is the maximum length and second field is the widget name (e.g. "gmailwidget"), scrolling will be used.
  • Returns a table with string keys: ${count} and ${subject}


Provides hard drive temperatures using the hddtemp daemon.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, requiring hddtemp and curl.

  • Argument (optional): hddtemp listening port (default: 7634)
  • Returns a table with string keys, using hard drives as a base, e.g. ${/dev/sda} and ${/dev/sdc}.


Provides the subject of last e-mail in a mbox file.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument: either a string or a table:
    • A string representing the full path to the mbox, or
    • Array of the form {path, maximum_length[, widget_name]}. If the widget name is provided, scrolling will be used.
    • Note: the path will be escaped so special variables like ~ will not work, use os.getenv instead to access environment variables.
  • Returns an array whose first value is the subject of the last e-mail.


Provides the count of total, old and new messages in mbox files.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument: an array full paths to mbox files.
  • Returns an array containing:
    • $1: Total number of messages
    • $2: Number of old messages
    • $3: Number of new messages


Provides the number of unread messages in Maildir structures/directories.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument: an array with full paths to Maildir structures.
  • Returns an array containing:
    • $1: Number of new messages
    • $2: Number of old messages lacking the Seen flag


Provides RAM and Swap usage statistics.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

Returns (per platform):

  • GNU/Linux: an array consisting of:
    • $1: Memory usage in percent
    • $2: Memory usage in MiB
    • $3: Total system memory in MiB
    • $4: Free memory in MiB
    • $5: Swap usage in percent
    • $6: Swap usage in MiB
    • $7: Total system swap in MiB
    • $8: Free swap in MiB
    • $9: Memory usage with buffers and cache, in MiB
  • FreeBSD: an array including:
    • $1: Memory usage in percent
    • $2: Memory usage in MiB
    • $3: Total system memory in MiB
    • $4: Free memory in MiB
    • $5: Swap usage in percent
    • $6: Swap usage in MiB
    • $7: Total system swap in MiB
    • $8: Free swap in MiB
    • $9: Wired memory in percent
    • $10: Wired memory in MiB
    • $11: Unfreeable memory (basically active+inactive+wired) in percent
    • $12: Unfreeable memory in MiB


Provides Music Player Daemon information.

Supported platforms: platform independent (required tools: curl).

  • Argument: an array including password, hostname and port in that order. nil fields will be fallen back to default (localhost:6600 without password).
  • Returns a table with string keys: ${volume}, ${bitrate}, ${elapsed} (in seconds), ${duration} (in seconds), ${Elapsed} (formatted as [hh:]mm:ss), ${Duration} (formatted as [hh:]mm:ss), ${random}, ${repeat}, ${state}, ${Artist}, ${Title}, ${Album}, ${Genre} and optionally ${Name} and ${file}.

Provides state and usage statistics of network interfaces.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

  • Argument (FreeBSD only): desired interface, e.g. "wlan0"
  • Returns (per platform):
    • GNU/Linux: a table with string keys, using net interfaces as a base, e.g. ${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.
    • FreeBSD: a table with string keys: ${carrier}, ${rx_b}, ${tx_b}, ${rx_kb}, ${tx_kb}, ${rx_mb}, ${tx_mb}, ${rx_gb}, ${tx_gb}, ${down_b}, ${up_b}, ${down_kb}, ${up_kb}, ${down_mb}, ${up_mb}, ${down_gb}, ${up_gb}.

Provides agenda statistics for Emacs org-mode.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument: an array of full paths to agenda files, which will be parsed as arguments.
  • Returns an array consisting of
    • $1: Number of tasks you forgot to do
    • $2: Number of tasks for today
    • $3: Number of tasks for the next 3 days
    • $4: Number of tasks to do in the week


Provides operating system information.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

Returns an array containing:

  • $1: Operating system in use
  • $2: Release version
  • $3: Username
  • $4: Hostname
  • $5: Available system entropy
  • $6: Available entropy in percent


Provides number of pending updates on UNIX systems. Be aware that some package managers need to update their local databases (as root) before showing the correct number of updates.

Supported platforms: platform independent.

  • Argument: distribution name, e.g. "Arch", "Arch C", "Arch S", "Debian", "Ubuntu", "Fedora", "FreeBSD", "Mandriva".
  • Returns an array including:
    • $1: Number of available updates
    • $2: Packages available for update

Provides state information for a requested RAID array.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux.

  • Argument: the RAID array ID.
  • Returns an array containing:
    • $1: Number of assigned devices
    • $2: Number of active devices


Provides temperature levels of several thermal zones.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

  • Argument (per platform):
    • GNU/Linux: either a string - the thermal zone, e.g. "thermal_zone0", or a table of the form {thermal_zone, data_source[, input_file]}. Available data_sources and corresponding default input_file are given in the table below. For instance, if "thermal_zone0" is passed, temperature would be read from /sys/class/thermal/thermal_zone0/temp. This widget type is confusing and ugly but it is kept for backward compatibility.
    • FreeBSD: either a full sysctl path to a thermal zone, e.g. "hw.acpi.thermal.tz0.temperature", or a table with multiple paths.
  • Returns (per platform):
    • GNU/Linux: an array whose first value is the requested temperature.
    • FreeBSD: a table whose keys are provided paths thermal zones.
data_source Path Default input_file
"sys" /sys/class/thermal/ "temp"
"core" /sys/devices/platform/ "temp2_input"
"hwmon" /sys/class/hwmon/ "temp1_input"
"proc" /proc/acpi/thermal_zone/ "temperature"


Provides system uptime and load information.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux, FreeBSD.

Returns an array containing:

  • $1: Uptime in days
  • $2: Uptime in hours
  • $3: Uptime in minutes
  • $4: Load average in the past minute
  • $5: Load average in the past 5 minutes
  • $6: Load average in the past 15 minutes


Provides volume levels and state of requested mixers.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux (requiring amixer), FreeBSD.

  • Argument (per platform):
    • GNU/Linux: either a string containing the ALSA mixer control (e.g. "Master") or a table including command line arguments to be passed to amixer(1), e.g. {"PCM", "-c", "0"} or {"Master", "-D", "pulse"}
    • FreeBSD: the mixer control, e.g. "vol"
  • Returns an array consisting of (per platform):
    • GNU/Linux: $1 as the volume level and $2 as the mute state of the requested control
    • FreeBSD: $1 as the volume level of the left channel, $2 as the volume level of the right channel and $3 as the mute state of the desired control

Provides weather information for a requested station.

Supported platforms: any having curl installed.

  • Argument: the ICAO station code, e.g. "LDRI"
  • Returns a table with string keys: ${city}, ${wind}, ${windmph}, ${windkmh}, ${sky}, ${weather}, ${tempf}, ${tempc}, ${humid}, ${dewf}, ${dewc} and ${press}


Provides wireless information for a requested interface.

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux.

  • Argument: the network interface, e.g. "wlan0"
  • Returns a table with string keys: ${ssid}, ${mode}, ${chan}, ${rate}, ${link}, ${linp} (link quality in percent) and ${sign} (signal level)


Provides wireless information for a requested interface (similar to vicious.widgets.wifi, but uses iw instead of iwconfig).

Supported platforms: GNU/Linux.

  • Argument: the network interface, e.g. "wlan0"
  • Returns a table with string keys: ${ssid}, ${mode}, ${chan}, ${rate}, ${freq}, ${linp} (link quality in percent), ${txpw} (tx power) and ${sign} (signal level)

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. Most of the contrib widgets are obsolete. Contrib widgets will not be imported by init unless you explicitly enable it, or load them in your rc.lua.

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

Update every 2 seconds (the default interval), use standard date sequences as the format string:

datewidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
vicious.register(datewidget,, "%b %d, %R")

Memory widget

Update every 13 seconds, append MiB to 2nd and 3rd returned values and enables caching.

memwidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
vicious.register(memwidget, vicious.widgets.mem, "$1 ($2MiB/$3MiB)", 13)

HDD temperature widget

Update every 19 seconds, request the temperature level of the /dev/sda and append °C to the returned value. Since the listening port is not provided, default one is used.

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

Mbox widget

Updated every 5 seconds, provide full path to the mbox as argument:

mboxwidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
vicious.register(mboxwidget, vicious.widgets.mbox, "$1", 5,

Battery widget

Update every 61 seconds, request the current battery charge level and displays a progressbar, provides "BAT0" as battery ID:

batwidget = wibox.widget.progressbar()

-- Create wibox with batwidget
batbox = wibox.layout.margin(
    wibox.widget{{max_value = 1, widget = batwidget,
                  border_width = 0.5, border_color = "#000000",
                  color = {type = "linear",
                           from = {0, 0},
                           to = {0, 30},
                           stops = {{0, "#AECF96"}, {1, "#FF5656"}}}},
                 forced_height = 10, forced_width = 8,
                 direction = 'east', color = beautiful.fg_widget,
                 layout = wibox.container.rotate},
    1, 1, 3, 3)

-- Register battery widget
vicious.register(batwidget, vicious.widgets.bat, "$2", 61, "BAT0")

CPU usage widget

Update every 3 seconds, feed the graph with total usage percentage of all CPUs/cores:

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)

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.


Hide mpd widget when no song is playing

mpdwidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
    function (widget, args)
        if args["{state}"] == "Stop" then
            return ''
            return ('<span color="white">MPD:</span> %s - %s'):format(
                args["{Artist}"], args["{Title}"])

Use string.format for padding

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

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). The following code forces a fixed width of 50 px to the uptime widget, and aligns its text to the right:

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

Stacked graph

Stacked graphs (aka multigraphs) are not handled by Vicious at the moment, as it's hard to pass on color index arguments elegantly. But they are not unusable, far from it.

ctext = wibox.widget.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)

The snipet above enables graph stacking/multigraph and plots usage of all three CPU cores on a single graph. The textbox ctext is just an empty placeholder.

Substitute widget types' symbols

If you are not happy with default symbols used in volume, battery, cpufreq and other widget types, use your own symbols without any need to modify modules. The following example uses a custom table map to modify symbols representing the mixer state: on or off/mute.

volumewidget = wibox.widget.textbox()
vicious.register(volumewidget, vicious.widgets.volume,
                 function (widget, args)
                     local label = {[""] = "O", [""] = "M"}
                     return ("Volume: %d%% State: %s"):format(
                         args[1], label[args[2]])
                 end, 2, "PCM")

Get data from the widget could be useful for naughty notification and scripts:

mybattery = wibox.widget.textbox()
vicious.register(mybattery, vicious.widgets.bat, "$2%", 17, "0")
        {}, 1,
        function ()
            naughty.notify{title = "Battery indicator",
                           text =,
                                               "Remaining time: $3", "0")}

Format functions can be used as well:

        {}, 1,
        function ()
                title = "Battery indicator",
                text =
                    function (widget, args)
                        return ("%s: %10sh\n%s: %14d%%\n%s: %12dW"):format(
                            "Remaining time", args[3],
                            "Wear level", args[4],
                            "Present rate", args[5])
                    end, "0")}

See also


Wicked was written by:

  • Lucas de Vries <lucas>

Vicious was originally written by:

  • Adrian C. (anrxc) <anrxc>

Current maintainers:

  • Jörg Thalheim (Mic92) <joerg>
  • mutlusun (especially the FreeBSD port)
  • Daniel Hahler (blueyed) <github>
  • Nguyễn Gia Phong (McSinyx) <vn.mcsinyx>

Vicious major contributors:

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