How to show a GUI message box from a bash script in linux?


I'm writing a few little bash scripts under Ubuntu linux. I want to be able to run them from the GUI without needing a terminal window to enter any input or view any output.

So far the only input required is a password for sudo - and gksudo handles that fine. But I haven't found an easy way to show a message box yet. Is there some kind of 'gkmessage' command available? I'd prefer something present in a default Ubuntu install, but I don't mind installing a new package if necessary.

This question is tagged with linux bash scripting ubuntu gtk

~ Asked on 2008-08-10 04:07:55

13 Answers


I believe Zenity will do what you want. It's specifically designed for displaying GTK dialogs from the command line, and it's available as an Ubuntu package.

~ Answered on 2008-08-10 06:40:47


If you are using Ubuntu many distros the notify-send command will throw one of those nice perishable notifications in the top right corner. Like so:

notify-send "My name is bash and I rock da house"


~ Answered on 2013-01-20 06:58:38


Everyone mentions zenity, there seem to be many others. A mixed up but interesting list is at

First, an example of zenity featuring text formatting markup, window title, button label.

zenity \
--info \
--text="<span size=\"xx-large\">Time is $(date +%Hh%M).</span>\n\nGet your <b>coffee</b>." \
--title="Coffee time" \


gxmessage "my text"


xmessage is very old so it is stable and probably available in all distributions that use X (since it's distributed with X). It is customizable through X resources, for those that have been using Linux or Unix for long enough to know what it means (.Xdefaults, anyone ?).

xmessage -buttons Ok:0,"Not sure":1,Cancel:2 -default Ok -nearmouse "Is xmessage enough for the job ?" -timeout 10


(not tested)

In a PPA

YAD: Zenity On Steroids [Display Graphical Dialogs From Shell Scripts] ~ Web Upd8: Ubuntu / Linux blog. Does not seem to auto-size dialogs.

echo My text | yad \
--text-info \
--width=400 \

An bigger example

yad \
--title="Desktop entry editor" \
--text="Simple desktop entry editor" \
--form \
--field="Type:CB" \
--field="Name" \
--field="Generic name" \
--field="Comment" \
--field="Command:FL" \
--field="Icon" \
--field="In terminal:CHK" \
--field="Startup notify:CHK" "Application" "Name" "Generic name" "This is the comment" "/usr/bin/yad" "yad" FALSE TRUE \
--button="WebUpd8:2" \
--button="gtk-ok:0" \

Others not in Ubuntu standard repositories

  • shellgui
  • xdialog
  • gtkdialog

Off-topic (for terminal)

whiptail --msgbox "my text" 10 20
dialog --msgbox "my text" 10 20

Feel free to edit.

~ Answered on 2014-01-28 14:48:46


The zenity application appears to be what you are looking for.

To take input from zenity, you can specify a variable and have the output of zenity --entry saved to it. It looks something like this:

my_variable=$(zenity --entry)

If you look at the value in my_variable now, it will be whatever was typed in the zenity pop up entry dialog.

If you want to give some sort of prompt as to what the user (or you) should enter in the dialog, add the --text switch with the label that you want. It looks something like this:

my_variable=$(zenity --entry --text="What's my variable:")

Zenity has lot of other nice options that are for specific tasks, so you might want to check those out as well with zenity --help. One example is the --calendar option that let's you select a date from a graphical calendar.

my_date=$(zenity --calendar)

Which gives a nicely formatted date based on what the user clicked on:

echo ${my_date}



There are also options for slider selectors, errors, lists and so on.

Hope this helps.

~ Answered on 2009-08-05 18:49:22


I found the xmessage command, which is sort of good enough.

~ Answered on 2008-08-10 04:26:16


alert and notify-send seem to be the same thing. I use notify-send for non-input messages as it doesn't steal focus and I cannot find a way to stop zenity etc. from doing this.


# This will display message and then disappear after a delay:
notify-send "job complete"

# This will display message and stay on-screen until clicked:
notify-send -u critical "job complete"

~ Answered on 2017-02-08 23:43:45


Here's a little Tcl script that will do what you want. The Wish interpreter should be installed by default on Ubuntu.

pack [label .msg -text [lindex $argv 0]]
pack [entry .ent]
bind .ent <KeyPress-Return> { puts [.ent get]; destroy . }
focus .ent

Call it like this:

myanswer=`gui-prompt "type your answer and press enter"`

~ Answered on 2008-08-10 04:34:36


There is also dialog and the KDE version kdialog. dialog is used by slackware, so it might not be immediately available on other distributions.

~ Answered on 2008-09-17 00:26:46


if nothing else is present. you can launch an xterm and echo in it, like this:

 xterm -e bash -c 'echo "this is the message";echo;echo -n "press enter to continue "; stty sane -echo;answer=$( while ! head -c 1;do true ;done);'

~ Answered on 2017-11-09 03:44:31


How about Ubuntu's alert. It can be used after any operation to alert it finished and even show red cross icon if operaton was finnished with errors

ls -la; alert

~ Answered on 2016-03-10 15:30:00


Zenity is really the exact tool that I think that you are looking for.


zenity --help

~ Answered on 2008-09-17 02:18:16


Example bash script for using Gambas GTK/QT Controls(GUI Objects): The Gambas IDE can be used to design even large GUIs and act as a GUI server. Example expplications can be downloaded from the Gambas App store.

enter image description here

~ Answered on 2020-05-24 17:16:40


Kdialog and dialog are both good, but I'd recommend Zenity. Quick, easy, and much better looking the xmessage or dialog.

~ Answered on 2008-09-17 02:13:53

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