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gxmessage - a GTK-based xmessage clone


gxmessage [OPTIONS] message ...
gxmessage [OPTIONS] -file FILENAME


gxmessage opens a window to display a message obtained from the command line, from a file, or from stdin. The window includes a row of buttons, each of which causes the program to exit with a different return code.

The GNU Info entry for gxmessage contains detailed information and examples.


gxmessage accepts any option xmessage would, although some (such as -bw and -xrm) are silently ignored.

Sets the background color of the message to COLOR. Examples: red, "#c90", "#446a7e".

Defines the buttons to be created. BUTTON_LIST is a comma-separated list of LABEL:VALUE pairs, one for each button. The LABEL is the text that appears on the button. The VALUE (0..255) is the code the program will exit with if that button is pressed. Commas and colons can be escaped using backslashes (\). As well as ordinary text, the LABEL can specify a GTK "stock" button, like "GTK_STOCK_CANCEL", or it can include an underscore (_) to specify a keyboard accelerator. If VALUEs are omitted, they default to 101, 102, 103, etc., in order. If no -buttons option is given, BUTTON_LIST defaults to "okay:0".

gxmessage -buttons "Foo:42,Bar:63" "Example" echo $? gxmessage -buttons "_Foo,_Bar" "Example" echo $? gxmessage "Example" echo $? gxmessage -buttons "GTK_STOCK_OK:0" "Example" echo $? gxmessage -buttons "Hello\, world" "Example"

Opens the gxmessage window in the middle of the screen.

Opens the gxmessage window with input focused on the specified button. LABEL is one of the LABELs in BUTTON_LIST (see -buttons, above).

Specifies the X display to use.

Sets the message text color to COLOR.

Causes the named file to be used as the message source. If a dash (-) is used in place of FILENAME, the message will be read from stdin.

Specifies the message font, using GTK's font specification system. For example, -font "serif italic 14". (GTK's font system is not compatible with xmessage. See the Compatibility section, below, for a workaround.)

Sets the window's size and/or position. Examples:

-geometry 400x200 -geometry 400x200+600+100 -geometry +600+100

Displays basic usage information then exits.

Opens the gxmessage window in its iconized (minimized) state.

Sets the gxmessage window's name to NAME.

Opens the gxmessage window near the mouse pointer.

Writes the LABEL of the selected button to stdout.

Automatically closes the gxmessage window with an exit code of 0 if no button is pressed within SECONDS seconds. (The -entry and -entrytext options cause -timeout to be ignored.)

Sets the gxmessage window's title to TITLE.


The following options are specific to gxmessage and are not compatible with xmessage.

Opens the gxmessage window without the usual window frame.

Specifies the encoding of the message text. By default, the message text is assumed to match the encoding of the current locale.

Adds a text entry box to the gxmessage window. When the window closes, any text in the entry box will be copied to stdout. This option can't be used at the same time as the -print option.

Same as -entry, but sets the default entry box contents to TEXT.

Prevents the window closing if the ESC key is pressed. This option only works if a file named /usr/share/gxmessage/allow_noescape exists.

Prevents the gxmessage window from receiving focus when it opens.

Attempts to keep the gxmessage window in front of other windows.

Causes the gxmessage window to appear on all workspaces.

Displays the program's version number and Copyright details, then exits.

Causes lines to wrap rather than exceed the width of the window.


The program's default appearance can be adjusted using GTK resource files. The main text display widget is named gxmessage-textview. The text entry widget is named gxmessage-entry.

# Example: ~/.gtkrc-2.0 style "gxmsg" {
text[NORMAL] = "#cc9900"
base[NORMAL] = "#660000"
text[SELECTED] = "#660000"
base[SELECTED] = "#cc9900"
font_name = "monospace" } widget "*.gxmessage-textview" style "gxmsg" widget "*.gxmessage-entry" style "gxmsg"


If a button is pressed, the program returns the value assigned to that button. The default "okay" button returns 0.

If a timeout event occurs, the program returns 0.

If an error occurs, or if the window is closed without a button-press or timeout event, the program exits with code 1. Pressing the ESC key also causes the program to exit with code 1.


Fall back to xmessage if gxmessage isn't available:

#! /bin/sh XMESSAGE=$(which gxmessage) || XMESSAGE=xmessage $XMESSAGE "hello, world"

If you specify fonts, check which program you're using:

font="monospace 14" [ "$XMESSAGE" = xmessage ] && font="fixed" $XMESSAGE ${font:+-fn "$font"} "hello, world"

Don't use double-dashed command line options:

$XMESSAGE "hello, world" -buttons good $XMESSAGE "hello, world" --buttons bad

Don't use the gxmessage-specific options:

-entry, -entrytext, -borderless, -wrap, -encoding, -nofocus, -noescape, -ontop, -sticky, -version, -h, -?


For some reason, opening the gxmessage window with no button set to be the default causes GTK to emit a "beep" sound.

If you discover other bugs in the most recent version of gxmessage, please get in touch.


xmessage(1), zenity(1), dialog(1)

The GNU Info entry for gxmessage contains detailed information and examples.


Timothy Musson <>


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2015 Timothy Richard Musson

Copying and distribution of this file, with or without modification, are permitted provided the copyright notice and this notice are preserved.

May 25th, 2015