If you want to get Gmail notifications directly from your desktop on Ubuntu, you can try GmailWatcher which is a Gmail notifier that integrates in the Ubuntu Messaging Menu.

GmailWatcher allows to display the latest 20 unread messages in your mail inbox, what you can see in the GmailWatcher window are the sender, title, and the message description without the need to open your web browser. In this little guide, we are going to help you install GmailWatcher on Ubuntu 11.10/11.04.

GmailWatcher Installation (Ubuntu 11.10)

Via the Terminal, run these commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:loneowais/gmailwatcher.dev
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gmailwatcher

GmailWatcher Installation (Ubuntu 11.04)

Run simply these commands from the Terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:loneowais/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gmailwatcher

Configuring GmailWatcher

After installing GmailWatcher, open the Ubuntu Messaging Menu and select GmailWatcher:

In the window that appears, click Settings:

Click now the Add button and submit your Gmail account details (email address & password), set custom label (optional), then click the button with a green ball:

Your Gmail account is now added, click OK to confirm:

The latest unread messages will now be displayed. If nothing appears, click the Check Now button.

GmailWatcher will now notify  you once new messages come to your inbox.

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