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This is a binding for libdbus 1.0 (and hopefully 1.2.x). DBus is a popular IPC (inter-process communication) protocol which is often used between system components (for example hald informs applications when new hardware becomes available, gpsd informs apps when the location has changed, or an application requests gsmd to place a phone call).

Goals & status

Goal Achieved?
send signals yes
call methods in other processes, and get the return values yes
call methods in other processes asynchronously, and the return values come back to a callback later
register a procedure as a handler for a service/method yes
assign a path to a TinyClos object and map applicable generic functions as dbus methods
create proxy objects matching remote objects
discover services locally
discover services on nearby machines
user code to do any of the above should be minimal: abstract away the orthogonal extra steps (open a connection, start a polling thread, etc.) yes


Shawn Rutledge


libdbus and its headers




libdbus has historically had a GPL license. The dbus homepage refers to an incomplete "planned X11/MIT license change due to a couple of license holders who have yet to respond. For the most part this license change is being pursued to simplify licensing issues and fix a couple of licensing corner cases. When this happens D-Bus will be released under the 1.2.0 version." So this egg is released under the MIT license, however if you link it with a version prior to 1.2.0, then you are probably bound by the terms of the GPL.

DBus in general

These are the definitions of the (confusing, redundant) terminology used in DBus, as the author understands them:

The aggregator and dispatcher of messages between processes. The usual choices are system bus, session bus or an app-specific bus. This egg uses the session bus by default. It is the same bus used by desktop session services, like KDE components for example. Accessing the system bus requires special permission. An app-specific bus does not promote application interoperability. So that leaves the session bus as generally being the most appropriate.
looks like a reversed domain name. The destination of a message. Sometimes called the "bus name".
think of it like the path part of a URL. Perhaps a unique path maps to a unique object.
a partitioned set of methods which is being offered, like a Java interface or an abstract class.
member name
also called method name, or the name of the signal or message.

Some of those would seem to be optional, because the total concatenated namespace ends up much deeper than e.g. a URL. However not enough testing has been done to confirm that if you leave out the service and the interface, for example, you won't miss them. Also it's not yet clear which of those ought to be "discoverable" in the sense that you can enumerate what is available on a particular bus.

Use dbus-monitor to see all the dbus traffic (on the session bus by default).

A many-to-many "bus" exists as a running dbus-daemon process. Each application which is interested in using that bus connects to the daemon via Unix-domain sockets. The daemon collects incoming messages and dispatches them to the connected processes which have expressed interest in receiving particular categories of messages. Usually there is one running instance of dbus-daemon for the system bus, and one running instance for each session bus: each user who is logged in and running a desktop session is typically running one instance of the daemon.

A one-to-one application-specific bus can bypass the daemon: one app connects directly to the other. But this is not a flexible service-oriented approach to IPC, so it is not usually done, and this egg does not support it.

Data types


These are in the test subdirectory in svn. (Not included in the egg itself at this point)

Examples you can test with QT

QT includes a DBUS remote-controlled car example. E.g. it might be located in /usr/share/qt4/examples/qdbus/remotecontrolledcar/car depending on your distro. If you run the car, you can cause the wheels of the car to turn to the right by doing this:

(use dbus)
(define rc-car-context (dbus:make-context
        service: 'com.trolltech.CarExample
        interface: 'com.trolltech.Examples.CarInterface
        path: '/Car))
(dbus:send rc-car-context "turnRight")

That example called a method but it did not expect any return values.

Now suppose you want to simulate the car, so you can use the above example to control your own car rather than the QT one:

(use dbus)
(define (turn-right) (printf "car is turning to the right~%"))
(define (turn-left) (printf "car is turning to the left~%"))
(define rc-car-context (dbus:make-context
        service: 'com.trolltech.CarExample
        path: '/Car
        interface: 'com.trolltech.Examples.CarInterface ))
(dbus:register-method rc-car-context "turnRight" turn-right)
(dbus:register-method rc-car-context "turnLeft" turn-left)

dbus:register-method starts a polling loop. So you can then run the program above which does dbus:send, and you will see the appropriate printf statement execute asynchronously when the message is received. However the polling thread is subject to the usual limitations of Chicken threads: if there is any blocking I/O, which is waiting for something, then all threads are blocked. That means you should not use the readline egg for example, because the polling thread will be blocked between each time that you type something and hit Enter.

If the threads are causing problems and you would prefer to poll manually, the dbus:poll-for-message procedure is exported for that purpose, however there needs to be some mechanism to prevent the creation of the polling thread; that is not done yet.

Examples based on the DBus Tutorial

The next example, taken from the DBus tutorial, shows how to deal with return values. First the "listener" program which will answer the query:

(use dbus)
(define (query . params)
        (printf "got a query; params: ~s~%" params)
        ;; the response to the query:
        `(#t 42))
(define ctxt (dbus:make-context
        service: 'test.method.server
        interface: 'test.method.Type
        path: '/test/method/Object))
(dbus:register-method ctxt "Method" query)

And now the program which sends a query and prints out the response:

(use dbus)
(define ctxt (dbus:make-context
        service: 'test.method.server
        interface: 'test.method.Type
        path: '/test/method/Object))
(let ([response (dbus:send-and-await-reply ctxt "Method" "query"
                "What is the meaning of life, the universe and everything?") ])
(printf "sent a very important query with a known answer; got flippant response ~s~%" response)
        (if (and (list? response) (eq? 42 (cadr response)))
                (printf "bingo!~%")
                (printf "and the answer is wrong too!  Bad supercomputer, bad!~%")))