Python Programming/Dbus

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Dbus is a way for processes to communicate with each other. For example, programs like Pidgin instant messenger allow other programs to find out or change the user's status (Available, Away, etc). Another example is the network-manager service that publishes which internet connection is active. Programs that sometimes connect to the internet can then pick the best time to download updates to the system.


Messages are sent along buses. Services attach themselves to these buses, and allow clients to pass messages to and from them.

There are two main buses, the system bus and session bus. Services on the system bus affect the whole system, such as providing information about the network or disk drives. Services on the session bus provide access to programs running on the desktop, like Pidgin.

import dbus

sys_bus = dbus.SystemBus()

Objects and interfacesEdit

Services attached to a bus can be contacted using their well-known name. While this could be any string, the format is normally that of a reverse domain name: an example for a spreadsheet program called "CalcProgram" from "My Corp Inc." could be "com.mycorp.CalcProgram".

Services publish objects using slash-separated paths (this is similar to webpages). Someone on dbus can request an object if they know this path.

The object passed back is not a full object: it just refers to the service's copy of the object. It is called a proxy object.

proxy_for_cell_a2 = sys_bus.get_object('com.mycorp.CalcProgram', '/spreadsheet1/cells/a2')

Before the proxy object can be used, we need to specify what type of object it is. We do this by creating an interface object.

cell_a2 = dbus.Interface(proxy_for_cell_a2, 'com.mycorp.CalcProgram.SpreadsheetCell')

Whatever methods are set up for this type of object can be called:

Name Example Description
service well known name com.mycorp.CalcProgram Identifies the application
path of an object /spreadsheet1/cells/a2 Identifies an object published by a service
interface com.mycorp.CalcProgram.SpreadsheetCell Identifies what type of object we expect

Some examplesEdit

These examples have been tested with dbus-python 0.83.0. Older library versions may not have the same interface.

Calling an interface's methods / Listing HAL DevicesEdit

import dbus

bus = dbus.SystemBus()
hal_manager_object = bus.get_object('org.freedesktop.Hal', '/org/freedesktop/Hal/Manager')
hal_manager_interface = dbus.Interface(hal_manager_object, 'org.freedesktop.Hal.Manager')

# calling method upon interface
print hal_manager_interface.GetAllDevices()

# accessing a method through 'get_dbus_method' through proxy object by specifying interface
method = hal_manager_object.get_dbus_method('GetAllDevices', 'org.freedesktop.Hal.Manager')
print method()

# calling method upon proxy object by specifying the interface to use
print hal_manager_object.GetAllDevices(dbus_interface='org.freedesktop.Hal.Manager')

Introspecting an objectEdit

import dbus

bus = dbus.SystemBus()
hal_manager_object = bus.get_object(
    'org.freedesktop.Hal',          # service
    '/org/freedesktop/Hal/Manager'  # published object

introspection_interface = dbus.Interface(

# Introspectable interfaces define a property 'Introspect' that
# will return an XML string that describes the object's interface
interface = introspection_interface.Introspect()
print interface


import dbus

sys_bus = dbus.SystemBus()

# get an object called / in org.freedesktop.Avahi to talk to
raw_server = sys_bus.get_object('org.freedesktop.Avahi', '/')

# objects support interfaces. get the org.freedesktop.Avahi.Server interface to our org.freedesktop.Avahi object.
server = dbus.Interface(raw_server, 'org.freedesktop.Avahi.Server')

# The so-called documentation is at /usr/share/avahi/introspection/Server.introspect
print server
print server.GetVersionString()
print server.GetHostName()