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Tags: gnome   gnome-shell   ubuntu-gnome   dbus   javascript  
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Title: Interfacing DBus using gjs
ID: /2019/07/25/Interfacing-DBus-using-gjs
Created: July 25, 2019    Edited:  July 25, 2019
Upload: November 24, 2022    Layout:  post
TOC: false    Navigation:  false    Copy to clipboard:  false

I’ve read Gnome is going the route of Java Script (GJS) for much of it’s desktop and reducing amount of C++ and Python. So I found this question particularly interesting today.

Here is an example Java Script and I will be trying it myself. In this example you will learn to create a D-Bus client to connect to a service, you will learn to call methods, connect to signals and get properties from the service. The example uses the D-Bus service that manage the Keyboard Backlight:

const Gio =;
const GLib =;

// This the D-Bus interface as XML
const KbdBacklightInterface = '<node>\
<interface name="org.freedesktop.UPower.KbdBacklight"> \
    <method name="SetBrightness"> \
        <arg name="value" type="i" direction="in"/> \
    </method> \
    <method name="GetBrightness"> \
        <arg name="value" type="i" direction="out"/> \
    </method> \
    <method name="GetMaxBrightness"> \
        <arg name="value" type="i" direction="out"/> \
    </method> \
    <signal name="BrightnessChanged"> \
        <arg type="i"/> \
    </signal> \
</interface> \

// Declare the proxy class based on the interface
const KbdBacklightProxy = Gio.DBusProxy.makeProxyWrapper(KbdBacklightInterface);

// Get the /org/freedesktop/UPower/KbdBacklight instance from the bus
let kbdProxy = new KbdBacklightProxy(

// You can use proxy.<method>Sync syntax to 
// call the D-Bus method in a Sync way
print("The max brightness of your keyboard is " + kbdProxy.GetMaxBrightnessSync());

// Or you can use the syntax proxy.<method>Remote
// to call the method in an Async way
kbdProxy.GetBrightnessRemote(function(currentBrightness) {
    print("The current keyboard brightness is " + currentBrightness);

// Connecting to a D-Bus signal
kbdProxy.connectSignal("BrightnessChanged", function(proxy) {
    let newBrightness = proxy.GetBrightnessSync();
    print("The keyboard brightness has been changed, new brightness is " + newBrightness);

// Also you can get properties value using this syntax
// let property = proxy.PropertyName;

// Or you can set a property value
// proxy.PropertyName = "new value";

let loop = new GLib.MainLoop(null, false);;

If not already done, install gjs:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install gjs

Create a directory for your Java Scripts:

mkdir ~/javascript

Use gedit to create sample script above and save it:

gedit ~/javascript/dbusclient.js

Now run it:

cd ~/javascript
gjs dbusclient.js

WIP Errors reported (I’ll fix and come back to this Q&A with results):

(gjs:10134): Gjs-WARNING **: JS ERROR: Gio.DBusError: GDBus.Error:org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.UnknownMethod: No such interface 'org.freedesktop.UPower.KbdBacklight' on object at path /org/freedesktop/UPower/KbdBacklight

JS_EvaluateScript() failed

No Keyboard lights

Although the laptop has keyboard lights and the wireless keyboard has 3 light settings, Gnome’s UPOWER can’t see them as these shell commands:

$ dbus-send --print-reply \
            --system \
            --dest=org.freedesktop.UPower \
            /org/freedesktop/UPower \

Return this:

method return time=1564075040.686545 sender=:1.49 -> destination=:1.145 serial=4392 reply_serial=2
   array [
      object path "/org/freedesktop/UPower/devices/line_power_ACAD"
      object path "/org/freedesktop/UPower/devices/battery_BAT1"
      object path "/org/freedesktop/UPower/devices/ups_hiddev2"
      object path "/org/freedesktop/UPower/devices/mouse_0003o046Do101Ax0017"
      object path "/org/freedesktop/UPower/devices/keyboard_0003o046Do2010x0018"

This could be a handy script to modify for monitoring Laptop Battery charge percentage though.

(To be continued…)

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