This is the continuation of dzen2 guidance. I case you have been missed it. Last week I have wrote a basic dzen tutorial using bash. And now we are going to continue with conky. It is much easier.



Hello World in Command Line

Conky has evolved. Now conky configuration is a Lua script. So we are going to talk about Lua programming language here. And forget about the old conky style.


Let’s do our very first conky.


conky.config = {
    out_to_x = false,
    out_to_console = true,
    short_units = true,
    update_interval = 1

conky.text = [[\
${time %a %b %d %H:%M:%S}\

There are two parts on that script above. The conky.config and the conky.text. The config will be persistent during this guidance since we only need conky capability to dump text. And we are going to do a lot with this text.

Now let’s run this conky. Conky will dump a formatted time text every one second interval. on the command line.

$ conky -c ~/Documents/standalone/dzen2/conky-example/01.lua

And see how the output goes through the nice command line interface.

Dzen2 Conky CLI Example

It means you can debug your output via command line interface.

Simple conky-dzen2 in Script

Let’s show a simple dzen2 statusbar by put this conky in a script conky-example/


#!/usr/bin/env bash

generated_output() {
    conky -c ~/Documents/standalone/dzen2/conky-example/01.lua

# ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----
# parameters


parameters="  -x $xpos -y $ypos -w $width -h $height" 
parameters+=" -fn $font"
parameters+=" -ta c -bg $bgcolor -fg $fgcolor"
parameters+=" -title-name dzentop"

# ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----- ----
# main

# remove all dzen2 instance
pkill dzen2

# execute dzen
generated_output | dzen2 $parameters &

# optional transparency
sleep 1 && exec `(transset .8 -n dzentop >/dev/null 2>&1 &)` & 

Each code lines in script should be self explanatory. If you do not understand what each line does, you should go back to our previous lesson. There few things covered:

  • Pipeline in command line interface

  • Dzen2 parameters

  • BASH scripting

  • Optional transparency using either transset or transset-df

Since it require knowledge of dzen2 parameters, I suggest you this good reading.

After all, this is the output. You can see the amazingly simple dzen2 statusbar on top of the screen. With updated time every one second interval.

Dzen2 Simple Conky Dzen2 Example

Decorating dzen2

This require knowledge of a few dzen2 tags.

  • Foreground Color: ^fg()

  • Background Color: ^bg()

  • Font: ^fn() We are going to use AwesomeFont to show Icons. You need to get AwseomeFont installed properly in your system. Or maybe or just put proper font in your .font directory.

  • Decoration: ^i() This tag is used to show Icon from Image Glyph. But we are going to use it to make a better Powerline like statusbar.


Here is a working example: conky-example/ and conky-example/02.lua.


-- vim: ts=4 sw=4 noet ai cindent syntax=lua

Conky, a system monitor, based on torsmo

conky.config = {
    out_to_x = false,
    out_to_console = true,
    short_units = true,
    update_interval = 1

Common Variables

-- base color
-- escape hash (#) character in conky with slash (\#)
colWhite = '\\#ffffff'
colBlack = '\\#000000'

-- also using google material
colRed500    = '\\#f44336'
colYellow500 = '\\#ffeb3b'
colBlue500   = '\\#2196f3'
colGrey500   = '\\#9e9e9e'
colGreen500  = '\\#4caf50'
colPink500   = '\\#e91e63'
colOrange500 = '\\#ff9800'
colIndigo500 = '\\#3f51b5'
colCyan500   = '\\#00bcd4'

FontAwesome = '^fn(FontAwesome-9)'

-- icon 
preIcon  = '^fg(' .. colYellow500 .. ')' .. FontAwesome
postIcon = '^fn()^fg()'

-- glyph icon decoration
decoPath = 'Documents/standalone/dzen2/assets/xbm'

-- diagonal corner
decoCornerTopLeft     = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/dc-024-tl.xbm)'
decoCornerTopRight    = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/dc-024-tr.xbm)'
decoCornerBottomLeft  = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/dc-024-bl.xbm)'
decoCornerBottomRight = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/dc-024-br.xbm)'

-- single arrow and double arrow
decoSingleArrowLeft  = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/sa-024-l.xbm)'
decoSingleArrowRight = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/sa-024-r.xbm)'
decoDoubleArrowLeft  = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/da-024-l.xbm)'
decoDoubleArrowRight = '^i(' .. decoPath .. '/da-024-r.xbm)'


-- date
dateIcon     = ' ' .. preIcon .. '' .. postIcon .. ' '
datePre      = '^bg(' .. colIndigo500 .. ')'
    .. '^fg(' .. colYellow500 .. ')'
dateCommand  = '^fg(' .. colWhite .. ')${time %a %b %d} '
datePost     = '^bg()^fg()'

dateDecoPre  = '^bg(' .. colIndigo500 .. ')'
    .. '^fg(' .. colWhite .. ')' .. decoCornerTopLeft
dateDecoPost = '^bg(' .. colWhite .. ')'
    .. '^fg(' .. colIndigo500 .. ')' .. decoCornerBottomLeft

dateText     = dateDecoPre .. datePre .. dateIcon 
    .. dateCommand .. datePost .. dateDecoPost

-- time
timeIcon     = ' ' .. preIcon .. '' .. postIcon .. ' '
timePre      = '^bg(' .. colPink500 .. ')'
timeCommand  = '^fg(' .. colWhite .. ')${time %H:%M:%S} '
timePost     = '^bg()'

timeDecoPre  = '^bg(' .. colWhite .. ')'
    .. '^fg(' .. colPink500 .. ')' .. decoDoubleArrowLeft
timeDecoPost = '^bg(' .. colWhite .. ')'
    .. '^fg(' .. colPink500 .. ')' .. decoDoubleArrowRight

timeText     = timeDecoPre .. timePre .. timeIcon 
    .. timeCommand .. timePost .. timeDecoPost

Execute Conky

conky.text = [[\
]] .. dateText .. [[\
]] .. timeText ..[[\

Just run it, and now you can see the output. Not a very pretty decoration. But I guess you get my point. Dzen output is amazingly very flexible to be configured.

Dzen2 Decorated Conky Dzen2 Example

Create Decoration for Your own Suite.

Everybody has different requirement, taste and style. Instead of giving .xbm files, I’d better give the Source Image. And explain the creation process.

Image Source: Diagonal and Arrow


The creation process has been explained in previous chapter. I only use use Inkscape and GIMP with very few steps. And yeah, very simple process.


Dzen2 with Modularized Lua in Conky

"Let's be tidy and get organized."

We are going to make this Lua script themable with flexible segment monitoring statusbar. I have made quick-and dirty-scripts. It means you are free to accustomize the script for your quick-and-dirty needs. It is never intended to be a perfect script. It just works.

Le’ts see the file structure. It contains:

  • Main BASH script, top pipe Conky to Dzen2:

  • A Conky Configuration Resource, as a script entry point: conky.lua. You can freely modify this conky by changing theme (preset and assembly).

  • Two submodule libraries: helper.lua and parts.lua.

  • One asset contain Google Material Color for convenience: gmc.lua.

  • Two Themable Paths: presets for color and assemblies. You can make your own preset and assembly.

Lua Script Structure

The entry point conky.lua is very simple. I have put all the stuff in libraries.


conky.config = {
    out_to_x = false,
    out_to_console = true,
    short_units = true,
    update_interval = 1

presetName  = 'bright-background'
assemblyName = 'back-arrow'

home = os.getenv("HOME")
path = '/Documents/standalone/dzen2/conky/'
dofile(home .. path .. 'gmc.lua')
dofile(home .. path .. 'presets/' .. presetName .. '.lua')
dofile(home .. path .. 'helper.lua')
dofile(home .. path .. 'parts.lua')
dofile(home .. path .. 'assemblies/' .. assemblyName .. '.lua')

conky.text = [[\
]] .. enabled .. [[\

The color preset is just simpler.


colorPreset = {
  icon       = colYellow500,
  label      = colPink700,
  separator  = colBlue900,
  value      = colBlack,
  background = colBlue500

Before we go to far, and got you a headache, let’s see how the dzen2 output goes.

Dzen2: Modularized Conky Lua

Assembly the Parts

Let’s assembly each segment parts to build a nice statusbar. This is the best parts about using conky as a lua programming language. The assemby process looks neat and tidy.

The image above is simply an output of this assemblies/separator.lua configuration.


enabled = ''
    .. parts.volume()
    .. parts.cpu0()
    .. parts.ssid()
    .. helper.separator()

You can change the color preset and dzen parameter to achieve other theme without a lot of effort. Just edit the conky.lua, and save. The dzen2 statusbar panel will updated automatically following the selected theme.

Lua Script Structure

Here is another sample to create a bright back arrow without making a lot of effort. assemblies/back-arrow.lua configuration.


deco = helper.decoDoubleArrowLeft

enabled = ''
    .. parts.transition(deco, colWhite, colGreen400)
    .. parts.transition(deco, colGreen400, colGreen500)
    .. parts.volume(colGreen500)
    .. parts.transition(deco, colGreen500, colGreen600)
    .. parts.cpu0(colGreen600)
    .. parts.transition(deco, colGreen600, colBlue500)
    .. parts.ssid(colBlue500)
    .. parts.transition(deco, colBlue500, colBlue600)
    .. parts.transition(deco, colBlue600, colWhite)

Lua Script Structure

You can create you own theme based on this. And for me, there is a lot of things about dzen2 and conky that I haven’t covered yet. This deserve a specific article focused on each topic. I simply do not have time to optimize the theme. It is just a quick and dirty solution.

Real Life Dzen2 with Lua in Conky

Update: Additional guidance.

Now the Final part. The dzen2 statusbar example for your desktop.

$ ~/Documents/standalone/dzen2/multi/

Dzen2 need six bars, while lemonbar only need two bars. For code comparation you should see both source code yourself.


Real Life Dzen2: Conky Lua

Issue with Tiling Window Manager

The only caveat is conky is interval based,
and it does not response to desktop event.

From the perspective of Tiling Window Manager, we still need a separate dzen panel for use with desktop event.

No matter how cool Conky Lua is, I just realize the issue, that we can not do it all, only with conky lua.

More thoughts


Yes I read the Source Code in github. And it TODO in that repository tells me that there is a plan to rewrite in C++ in Conky 2.0. Which is great.


I wonder if anyone would do rewrite dzen2 in C++ or even Rust just because it can be done. It is going to be an interesting project.


Or maybe a decouple system monitor in conky to make the output text based only.

  1. A Lua based system monitor framework.

  2. A general desktop output that can get any feed, from any scripting language. Just like dzen2, but for desktop.


But hey… Get a life.

Coding is Fun. Especially when it comes to dzen2-conky-lua tiers. Now I have to move on to compose the next tutorial.

That is all for now. Thank you for reading.

Have Fun