Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tech Tip: Use gxmessage for Displaying GUI Messages from Scripts

There are many dialog programs out there, Zenity, Kdialog, xdialog, etc. I love programs like these. They make it so easy to spice up a shell script with a little GUI action.

Today I'm going to go look at a dialog program called gxmessage.

I just recently got a Nokia N900 (Every Linux user should get one) and while playing with it I found that a few programs on it were calling gxmessage to create a user interface.

I found that it seemed to have a number of options and seemed easy to use. So I jumped on to my laptop and did a search through the repositories for it.

I found it in a package called "gmessage". To install it just do the following:
# sudo aptitude install gmessage

You can use this one line code to produce a GUI dialog with buttons:
# gxmessage -center \
          -buttons "This is my button":1,"This is my other button":2 \
          -title "This is my dialog BOX" 'Linux is great!!!'
  
One of the nice features that gxmessage has, that some others don't, is the ability to choose the size of the dialog box using the "-geometry" switch.
# gxmessage -center \
          -buttons "This is my button":1,"This is my other button":2 \
          -geometry 190x80 \
          -title "This is my dialog BOX" 'Linux is great!!!'

Gxmessage will restrict you from making your dialog to0 small for the componets you have placed in it. For example, if you set the geometry to 10x10 and the dialog needs at lest 100x50 to display all your buttons and messages it will override your 10x10 and default to 100x50.

For each button you create you can asign it a numeric value which is indicated by placeing a colon after the buttons message followed by the numeric value you wish to asign to it.

You can then grab the value of the button being pressed and use it to continue your script. Here is a short example:
#!/bin/bash

gxmessage -center \
          -buttons "Yes":1,"Of Course":2 \
          -geometry 290x80 \
          -title "Linux Journal Question" 'Does Shawn Powers ROCK?'

answer=$?

case "$answer" in
  1)
    gxmessage -center "You said 'YES'"
    ;;
  *)
    gxmessage -center "I agree, Of Course."
    ;;
esac
  
I've only touched the surface here of what you can do with gxmessage, look through the man pages for more.
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