Example script error.sh:

#! /bin/bash

zenity --error --text='Something very bad has happened!'  

My incron-config:

~/Documents IN_MOVED_TO ~/scripts/error.sh

If I run error.sh in terminal GUI dialog pops, but not in above incron scenario.

How can I make zenity to pop that dialog when I move file in Documents folder?

3 Answers 3


Found answer here. Add to ~/.bashrc:

xhost local:$USER > /dev/null

and then use zenity in script evoked by cron like this:

zenity --error --text='Something very bad has happened!' --display=:0.0

adding --display=:0.0 is what's important

  • 1
    --display=:0.0 was important. But now I have same problem for service. It doesn't show anything if I put script as service!
    – Dr.jacky
    Mar 11, 2017 at 13:51
  • What is the first part, xhost local:$USER > /dev/null, used for? It works fine with just --display=:0.0.
    – marlar
    Nov 3, 2021 at 16:32

To run a GUI command on cron, you'll have to tell cron what display the program should use. For that you use:export DISPLAY=:0

For a zenity notification each 30 minutes, edit with crontab -e and set a job like:

*/30 *  * * *  export DISPLAY=:0 && /somedirectory/your_zenity_script.sh

Detailed how to: link


There's another possible solution if you want it to work regardless of username, by finding the active user of the X display, using ConsoleKit (the command ck-list-sessions). Assuming the below script is run as root, it will show a zenity message to the current active user on your computer:

ACTIVE=$(ck-list-sessions | awk -F' = ' '
    function f(){if(A=="TRUE"){P=U"\t"D;gsub("'"'"'","",P);print P}}
    END{f()} /^[^\t]/{f()}
USERID=${ACTIVE%    *} # tab
USERNAME=$(getent passwd $USERID|cut -f1 -d':')
DISPLAY=${ACTIVE#*  } # tab

DISPLAY="$DISPLAY" su $USERNAME -c "zenity --error --text='Something very bad has happened!'"

The little awk script is just for parsing ck-list-sessions and outputting the username and display of the user that is active (could also require that it's a local connection if you want to exclude ssh -X users, if you want).

(I use this in a backup script that runs on plugging in a USB drive.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.