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I'd like my backup script to issue a notification once it's done. I run Ubuntu as a headless server and login into it using PuTTY on Windows. I've already installed x11-apps and verified xclock and xcalc to run successfully on the Windows X server (Xming).

If this is not possible, which notification system can I use instead?

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If your server is 'truly' headless - as it will be when you installed a server edition of Ubuntu - then it will not have the X libraries installed and therefore will not be able to act as an X client, so there is no way for it to control the X server on Windows. (Note that not even xterm will be installed.)

If your PuTTY session is still open, then the server could use wall to make a notification appear on all terminals.

Otherwise, the customary (and resilient) way to notify the administrator is to send e-mail. If you use cron to trigger the backup job, you don't even need to do anything for that. I'm a bit out of touch with Windows, but I guess you can make Windows notify you when a specific email comes in.

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Thanks for the explanation. Actually, I've installed x11-apps and am able to run xclock and xcalc successfully on the Windows X server (Xming). Given this, would it now be possible to use notify-send to issue a pop-up notification on my Windows PC? – silvernightstar Oct 6 '13 at 21:21
In theory, yes. In practice it will depend on the capabilities of the X server. Why don't you try it out? – zwets Oct 6 '13 at 21:32

I've managed to do this with growl for windows. Here's something that should get you started real quick:

  • Install growl for windows
  • On the 'security' tab of the growl configuration, disable the 'require password for LAN apps'(YMMV, I manage security using windows firewall) and enable 'Allow network notifications'

The above will enable a notification server on windows(add growl for windows to the startup applications so you always have it running)

There are many ways to send notifications from your ubuntu server, heres a simple way with python: - Install python/virtualenv - Install gntp package: $ pip install gntp

Now open a text editor and paste the following:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import gntp.notifier

def send(description, applicationName='Sample Application', noteType="Message",
    title="Msg", applicationIcon=None, hostname='',
    password=None, port=23053, sticky=False, priority=None,
    callback=None, notificationIcon=None, identifier=None):

    growl = gntp.notifier.GrowlNotifier(

    result = growl.register()

    return growl.notify(

if __name__ == '__main__':
    send('Testing sample application')

This assumes that your ssh client is forwarding port 23053 to your windows machine.

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