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I want to do something to create a window, preferably marked as on-top, with a configurable message. Is there an Ubuntu package for that?

The idea to put the relevant command inside a script:

docommand "hello world"
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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The application you're looking for is called zenity. Here's your hello world:

zenity --info --text="Hello World"
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There is also older xmessage. It is uglier, but has fewer dependencies. –  Boris Bukh Dec 11 '11 at 17:59

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