I need to setup my desktop in a very particular way, for use during lectures:

| 5 minutes 3 seconds left           12:48 pm | <-- a top bar displaying count-down timers, clock
|               |                             |
| This displays |       This area is          |
| a list of     |       remaining for a       | <-- basically any other application window gets this
| day's object- |       PDF viewer to show    |     right-hand corner to be displayed in
| ives.         |       the presentation.     |
|               |                             |
|   The mid-term exam will be 3/22 @ rm. 2.   | <-- a small bottom panel for other information

I will run a BASH script that changes the values of the text in the top, left, and bottom panels. E.g. it checks what time it is, then calculates the count-down clock text; or at certain times it might display other reminders, change color, blink, play a bell, etc. Or, e.g. the BASH script checks which date it is, then grabs my list of objectives from a spreadsheet for display in the left-side panel.

What I'm trying to find is a simple program that helps me create the boxes to display the text values on-screen, in a nice font. Ideally, the BASH script updates some environmental variable, and the application checks the value every few seconds, updating the display.

  • Ideally, the app should not require huge dependencies, such as GNOME or KDE.
  • If the app cannot handle the positioning of the information, I could use a tiling window manager to handle placement.

What application can I use to create on-screen text boxes displaying information during a presentation?

1 Answer 1


I'd suggest to use tiling window manager. Left middle, and bottom, boxes are static content, so it could be anything. The top box with time is more challenging. Perhaps it would work well with HTML and JavaScript, see https://codepen.io/AllThingsSmitty/pen/JJavZN and just open it in a new browser window, find some web browser whose toolbars are not too big (try dillo, midori, netsurf, uzbl to see which one of them can open a new page without showing tab bar and toolbar buttons).

EDIT: to display from a bash script, consider using Zenity, example of some scripting for it https://superuser.com/a/1372872 with a clock.

  • The content in the boxes would not be static, I need them to update at least once every 5 seconds. The information changes at different times of the day, according to a BASH script. I'm more concerned with finding a solution first to displaying the text boxes.
    – Village
    May 18, 2021 at 2:42
  • @Village added note about showing dialogs from bash script via zenity
    – svetlana
    May 18, 2021 at 4:51
  • Zenity seems like it might work...does Zenity allow the dialog boxes to be refreshed to display new content, or does that involve killing the dialog box process and starting a new one?
    – Village
    May 18, 2021 at 12:49
  • @Village it allows this. In the clock example linked, a string is echoed through a pipe to zenity, in a while loop. This causes the clock to update without killing the existing dialog.
    – svetlana
    May 18, 2021 at 23:33

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