System Monitor – Gkrellm

Have you ever wondered what’s going on in your computer? Linux has a plethora of commands for looking at what’s going on on your computer, but often you need to delve into the command line and terminal to see what’s going on. If you want an ongoing “overview” of the state of your hardware and what’s going on on your computer, a great little tool is gkrellm. Gkrellm will monitor things like cpu usage and temperature, disk usage, network taffic, and memory usage.


gkrellm is very light on system resources. In fact, it should barely register against your system resources. This is to be contrasted with some of the fancier system monitors that are available on platforms like superkaramba, which consume a lot of resources. gkrellm is also very economical on space, and can sit quietly off to the side of your screen.

gkrellm is a great resource for finding out why things are sluggish on your computer. For example, it could be because your harddrive is under heavy usage, or because a process is using up all of your cpu. If you didn’t have some form of graphical monitor running, you won’t be able to assess what might be wrong with your computer.


You can also apply themes to gkrellm to suit your desktop style. Your distro may have a theme pack available for it, so check the repositories. If not, you can download all sorts of themes from this site. Download the theme to ~/.gkrellm2/themes/ and untar it with this command:

cd ~/.gkrellm2/themes/
tar -zxpf theme_name.tar.gz

To run gkrellm with a new theme, right click on gkrellm at the top, and click on the Configuration menu item. In the left hand panel of the configuration dialog, navigate down to the Theme item, and then select your theme.


gkrellm provides a plugin interface, so it can be customised and expanded. There are a whole load of plugins available including a wireless monitor, audio volume and battery monitor. Again, your distro should provide packages for them, but if not, you can get them from here.

monitor remote boxes

You can also monitor remote boxes using gkrellm. You need to gkrellmd (a remote gkrellm monitoring daemon) running on the remote box. Again this should be in your distribution’s repositories. Then, to monitor that box on your local machine using gkrellm, just launch it like this:

gkrellm -s <remote server address>

A new instance of gkrellm should start, displaying the information from the remote box in realtime.