Firefox has been the default browser for ages. Thunderbird is a very popular e-mail client under consideration for being included as default in the future. Notify OSD has been around for years now.

What went wrong that in that long timeframe such important applications do not have such an important and visible feature implemented? This is very inconsistent. When will we see it integrated?

  • Firefox shows a standard Gnome "Downloads complete" on my system. Or do you mean something else? Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 14:24
  • I mean the black translucent boxes that pop up in the top-right corner of the screen.
    – Ingo
    Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 8:18
  • well, I got something like that: img857.imageshack.us/img857/7052/bildschirmfotok.png Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 18:01
  • Really!? Woah, I don't get that. You did not install any add ons?
    – Ingo
    Commented Apr 8, 2011 at 20:57
  • Well, I have the "Ubuntu Firefox Modifications" Package (0.9rc2), which was installed with this Ubuntu installation by default. Commented Apr 9, 2011 at 12:13

3 Answers 3


I just want to clarify something - notify-osd is just one implementation of the Freedesktop Notification spec. Applications actually use libnotify, which allows them to integrate with the notification system (which could be notify-osd, the legacy notification-daemon or any other implementation of the spec)

Both Thunderbird and Firefox already have native support for libnotify. However, they fall back to XUL notifications when communicating with a notification system which doesn't support actions (ie, notify-osd). This is because the types of notifications provided by Firefox and Thunderbird show information that is only really useful if the actual notification allows the user to interact with it (eg, "download finished" should provide a way for the user to access the downloaded file. A "new mail" notification should provide a way to access the new mail, and be persistent).

Making Thunderbird and Firefox use libnotify when the notification system doesn't support actions would provide a very sub-optimal experience if we made no other UI changes.

There is already ongoing work to integrate Thunderbird in to the messaging menu. Part of this will involve having new-mail alerts via notify-osd. Persistence will be provided by the messaging menu.

In addition to this, I will at some point start work on integrating download notifications in Firefox with notify-osd and the Unity launcher (with the launcher being able to show a progressbar, and use quicklists as a way to access finished downloads). This work hasn't started yet and will be something I do for the 11.10 cycle.


Firefox and Thunderbird are not maintained by Canonical but by the Mozilla Foundation. It is up to the Mozilla Foundation to implement support for notify-osd, not Canonical. The problem is that many distributions use different notification systems. There are even differences between Gnome and KDE, and Windows also uses a different notification system. To be able to support all of these is a lot of work.

  • Although an addon could be built for this purpose. Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 12:49
  • 1
    I don't like that argument :). Firefox and Thunderbird are open source. Arguably, Firefox is the program the average user will use the most in Ubuntu. Why was there no patch from Canonical or the community for that yet?
    – Ingo
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 13:13
  • @Ingo: Noone has found it sufficiently important to generate and publish a patch of sufficient quality. The patch would need to be aware of its environment and respond appropriately to the various Window Managers.
    – BillThor
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 14:34
  • 1
    Ingo is right, and the situation isn't really any different to any other application that isn't maintained by someone at Canonical (whether that be a GNOME, KDE or some other application). The issue is that nobody has really found the time to integrate it properly and in such a way that it doesn't provide a degraded experience - ie, "download finished" notifications with no obvious method of accessing the finished download are not very useful, so it's not just a case of making it use notify-osd Commented Apr 7, 2011 at 21:37

There is an addon for thunderbird already (libnotify-popups I believe) that uses osd-notify whenever you get new mail


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