Crypto Price Ticker on the System Tray


Like many other people I love customizing my Linux machine’s system tray. I am using the i3 Window Manager and the conky system monitor in order to show various interesting stats on the system tray. From the CPU temperature and current time, to the amount of I/O the system is performing at any given time.

This is a short post to showcase how this can be achieved and specifically to show how we can also add price tickers for your favorite crypto coins on the system tray.


I will assume that the reader is using i3 and is familiar with its setup process. If you are not using i3 that is also fine since conky can send and display information either in pure text form (which we will use from i3) or using simple progress bars and graph widgets, with different fonts and colours. Check the conky user configuration wiki for more information, examples and screenshots.

i3 and Conky Setup

In order to use conky on the i3 bar, install its package and make sure to have the following inside your i3 config file (~/.i3/config):

# Start i3bar to display conky status
bar {
    font pango:DejaVu Sans Mono 9
    status_command ~/.local/bin/

Essentially this sets the font to be used inside the i3-bar and also specifies a script to run that populates the contents of the bar.


# Send the header so that i3bar knows we want to use JSON:
echo '{"version":1}'

# Begin the endless array.
echo '['

# We send an empty first array of blocks to make the loop simpler:
echo '[],'

# Now send blocks with information forever:
exec conky -c ~/.conkyrc

Above we can see the contents of ~/.local/bin/ It’s a very simple script that notifies the i3-bar that we will be using JSON and then starts an endless JSON array by executing conky with the conkyrc config file.

out_to_x no
own_window no
out_to_console yes
background no
max_text_width 0

# Update interval in seconds
update_interval 2.0

# This is the number of times Conky will update before quitting.
# Set to zero to run forever.
total_run_times 0

# Shortens units to a single character (kiB->k, GiB->G, etc.). Default is off.
short_units yes

# How strict should if_up be when testing an interface for being up?
# The value is one of up, link or address, to check for the interface
# being solely up, being up and having link or being up, having link
# and an assigned IP address. 
if_up_strictness address

# Add spaces to keep things from moving about?  This only affects certain objects.
# use_spacer should have an argument of left, right, or none
use_spacer left

# Force UTF8? note that UTF8 support required XFT
override_utf8_locale no

# number of cpu samples to average
# set to 1 to disable averaging
cpu_avg_samples 2

# Stuff after 'TEXT' will be formatted on screen

# JSON for i3bar

{"full_text": " ❤ $acpitemp°C [$cpu%] ","color": 
              ${if_match ${acpitemp}<50}"\#007000"${else}"\#E60000"${endif}},
{"full_text": " I/O: $diskio", "color":"\#D683FF"},
{"full_text": " GPU: ${execi 60 nvidia-smi -q -d TEMPERATURE | grep Gpu | cut -c39-40}°C",
              "color": "\#3E63D1"},
{"full_text": " ≣ [$memeasyfree] ", "color":"\#B58900"},
{"full_text": " ⛁ / [${fs_free /}] ", "color": "\#99CC33"},
{"full_text": " ⛁ /home [${fs_free /home}] ", "color": "\#99CC33"},
{"full_text": " ≈ ${wireless_essid wlan0} [${wireless_link_qual_perc wlan0}%] ","color":"\#33CC99"},
{"full_text": " ☍ eno1 [${addr eno1}] ","color":"\#33CC99"},
{"full_text": " up [${uptime}] ", "color": "\#3399CC"},
{"full_text": " ${time %Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S} "}

Pasted above you can see the contents of the conkyrc file I am using. The important part to customize is the JSON for the i3-bar section.

Essentially conky displays the contents of the map we are showing above. The key is always "full_text" and what matters is the value. In the snippet above you should keep entries only if you are interested in them.

You should replace eno1 and wlan0 with the name of your LAN and wireless interface respectively. Additionally if you do not have an nvidia card and/or don’t have the nvidia-utils package you can safely remove the nvidia entry.

All of the above will be updated every 2 seconds, except for the entries which have execi in front. Those allow the user to set the amount of seconds to be used as an interval between executions for that specific conky entry.

Adding a Crypto Price Ticker to conkyrc

In order to add a crypto price ticker to conkyrc, first we have to get the data from somewhere. For this example we will be using the well known cryptocurrency-exchange site kraken and its API.

Kraken uses a very simple REST API which allows you to make simple HTTP queries and get results in JSON format.

For example by going to you will get a JSON dictionary containing the query’s response. Below you can see an example:


To learn what all the different values mean you can consult the API page linked above and you will see this explanatory table:

<pair_name> = pair name
    a = ask array(<price>, <whole lot volume>, <lot volume>),
    b = bid array(<price>, <whole lot volume>, <lot volume>),
    c = last trade closed array(<price>, <lot volume>),
    v = volume array(<today>, <last 24 hours>),
    p = volume weighted average price array(<today>, <last 24 hours>),
    t = number of trades array(<today>, <last 24 hours>),
    l = low array(<today>, <last 24 hours>),
    h = high array(<today>, <last 24 hours>),
    o = today's opening price

In order to add a price ticker we probably want the last closed trade. From the above example we need to extract "10.91835" from the json data. And due to the way conkyrc expects its entries, this operation should be an one-liner.

Using some awesome console magic we can avoid requiring any extra packages. We can achieve this by simply using curl and grep.

echo `curl -s`
| grep -Po '"c":.*?[^\\]",'
| grep  -Po '[0-9.]+'

So in the end the JSON part of the conkyrc becomes:

# JSON for i3bar

{"full_text": " €/Ξ: ${execi 60 echo `curl -s` | grep -Po '"c":.*?[^\\]",' | grep  -Po '[0-9.]+'}", "color":"\#D683FF"},
{"full_text": " €/Ƀ: ${execi 60 echo `curl -s` | grep -Po '"c":.*?[^\\]",' | grep  -Po '[0-9.]+'}", "color":"\#D683FF"},
{"full_text": " ❤ $acpitemp°C [$cpu%] ","color": 
              ${if_match ${acpitemp}<50}"\#007000"${else}"\#E60000"${endif}},
{"full_text": " I/O: $diskio", "color":"\#D683FF"},
{"full_text": " GPU: ${execi 60 nvidia-smi -q -d TEMPERATURE | grep Gpu | cut -c39-40}°C",
              "color": "\#3E63D1"},
{"full_text": " ≣ [$memeasyfree] ", "color":"\#B58900"},
{"full_text": " ⛁ / [${fs_free /}] ", "color": "\#99CC33"},
{"full_text": " ⛁ /home [${fs_free /home}] ", "color": "\#99CC33"},
{"full_text": " ≈ ${wireless_essid wlan0} [${wireless_link_qual_perc wlan0}%] ","color":"\#33CC99"},
{"full_text": " ☍ eno1 [${addr eno1}] ","color":"\#33CC99"},
{"full_text": " up [${uptime}] ", "color": "\#3399CC"},
{"full_text": " ${time %Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S} "}

One more thing to note is that we used execi 60 in order to not spam Kraken’s server and have our system’s IP blacklisted. The end result is a very nicely looking price ticker on the system monitor as we can see in the picture below.


The example above used Ether and Bitcoin. Note that conky also accepts unicode and as such we are using the unicode symbols for both cryptocurrencies and Euro. Now while working you can be distracted by the price changes of your favorite crypto coins displayed on the system tray 🙂


We explored how to customize the system tray of a Linux machine using conky and giving a concrete example with the i3-bar. We also saw how to add a crypto price ticker by calling into an external server, querying for price data, processing it and populating conky’s endless JSON data that end up being displayed on the i3-bar.

How do you use the system tray in your setup? Do you also use conky? Got any cool scripts or screenshots to show? Got any feedback for the method outlined in this post? If so please don’t hesitate to post in the comments about it.

About the Author


Lefteris Karapetsas is a passionate developer/tinkerer currently located in Berlin.

After graduating from the University of Tokyo, Lefteris has been developing backend software for various companies including Oracle and Acmepacket. He is an all-around tinkerer who loves to takes things apart and put them back together learning how they work in the process.

His interests include language/compiler design, Artifical Intelligence, Robotics, Intelligent Systems and Systems programming. He feels at home with C code and GDB.

More recently he has gained a lot of blockchain expertise since he has been part of Ethereum as a C++ core developer since November 2014, having worked on Solidity, the ethash algorithm, the core client and the CI system. Additionally he is the tech lead of where he took part in connecting Blockchain and IoT with the Ethereum computer and the creation of the DAO.


Twitter: @lefterisjp


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