Roll your own reminders with dunst

Posted on May 22, 2020

Dunst is a very simple notification daemon. It displays notifications sent by whatever programs on Linux that use libnotify, which is most programs that have some form of notification. Libnotify also comes with a script notify-send that allows sending notifications from the command line.

Using notify-send, at, and a bit of configuration for dunst, we can make a very simple reminder script that displays a notification after a certain time has elapsed. We can make the reminder notification a bit more obtrusive than ordinary notifications, so there’s no chance of missing it.

First, here’s the script that I call remindme. Place this somewhere in your $PATH.



echo "notify-send --category reminder 'Reminder' '$text'" | at now + "$time"

To use this script: remindme '10 minutes' 'take out the trash'

This script isn’t specific to dunst, so it will work other notification display software. However, if you are using dunst, then you can add the following to your dunstrc to get the notifications in the reminder category to be displayed specially.

  category = reminder
  background = "#333333"
  foreground = "#ff7f7f"
  timeout = 0

I picked these colours because they contrast with my usual notification colours, which are basically black text on a white background. Customize them to match your colour scheme.

Ordinary notifications have a nonzero timeout that will make dunst hide them after a short time. That’s no good for a reminder! What if you’re away making a coffee while the reminder appears. Then it might disappear before you get back. I set the timeout for reminders to zero to make sure that they stay onscreen until dismissed (by clicking).


I hardcode the + syntax in remindme since I almost always want a reminder relative to the current time. But maybe you want to be able to do remindme '7am tomorrow' 'take out the trash'. In that case, ditch the + and if you want a relative time use it explicitly.