Nifty Notifications in Mac OS X

by Gordon Meyer

In Smart Home Hacks, Hack #31 Broadcast Messages On Your Home Network, describes how to use the Mac OS X program LanOSD to send animated, overlaid onscreen messages to every computer on your network. For example, you might want to pop-up a message with the latest outdoor temperature, or when the motion detector at your front door has been triggered, as shown below.


LanOSD, which is free, works great for this. There's hardly anything to configure, just run the application and messages sent from any computer will simultaneously appear on the screens of all of the computers on your local network. You can send messages using AppleScript, which is what I do in conjunction with XTension, or via a nifty command line program that's included with the download. It's perfect for integrating with your shell, perl, or python scripts.

I recently came across a similar program, Growl, that also provides beautiful onscreen notifications. It's supported by a (growing) number of applications, but it doesn't broadcast messages on your network. It can still be pretty handy, and perhaps some enterprising developer will create a growl-compatible notifier that allows distributed messaging.


2004-10-27 20:29:18
Growl vs. LanOSD
Growl is a lot better than LanOSD. It supports configurable displays (LanOSD locks you in to their one display, which has bugs), it's open-source, it has much better developer support (LanOSD requires using AppleScript or calling their command-line tool, whereas Growl has bindings for Cocoa, Carbon, Java, Perl, Python, Tcl, and AppleScript), it's under heavy development (I haven't seen an update to LanOSD in quite a while), and it just generally works better.

The only thing LanOSD has that Growl doesn't AFAIK is network notifications. And LanOSD doesn't even do these well. The one time I tested LanOSD at the same time as somebody else I had to shut off network notifications because their AppleScript binding provides no way to restrict a notification to the local computer (I don't know if the command-line tool does). I ended up tossing LanOSD permanently about 10 minutes after this.

Oh, and network notifications (done right!) are on the todo list for Growl.

I liked Growl so much I became one of the developers!

Gordon Meyer
2004-10-28 08:09:24
Good to hear
That's great, Eridius, when Growl supports network notifications it will be a lot more useful for home automation. I'm looking forward to it.