Rating Open Source Desktop Notification Systems

It’s a problem as old as the microprocessor: How do you provide important information to users without getting in the way of their workflow? On most open source platforms, the answer to this conundrum currently lies in passive notification popups or bubbles. And while some interfaces get it right, others — especially GNOME Shell — could do a lot better. Here’s how.
Traditionally, the Linux world lacked any standardized, centralized system for providing information to users about system or application events. Different distributions and desktop environments implemented various solutions, none of them particularly elegant or memorable.
GNOME 2, for instance, used the “system tray” portion of its panel to display information. That approach was unintrusive, but it also made it easy to miss important notifications. More obnoxiously, Ubuntu used to impress the importance of software updates upon users by periodically injecting the Update Manager into the middle of the screen — a strategy which in many cases, including my own, backfired grandly because it encouraged users to disable the highly intrusive “feature” altogether.
Then, with the release of Ubuntu 9.04 in 2009, Canonical introduced the notify-osd system, which arguably did a decent job of living up to its promise of providing “simple, unintrusive,

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