As many of you know I am a fan of alternative desktops. My favorite being E16. The only downfall of E16 is that the epplets, tiny applications that monitor, launch applications, and other important duties, can be a real hassle to install (and often too small to read). And other minimal desktops have nothing to offer.
That is where applications like Gkrellm comes in. Gkrellm is a small stack of system monitors that is configurable and themeable. Using this application can solve a lot of your problems when using a lightweight desktop.
Getting and Installing
Installing Gkrellm is simple. You can either do a search in your Add/Remove Software utility, do a search for "gkrellm", select the correct results, and apply the changes. From the command line you can run a command like sudo apt-get install gkrellm or yum install gkrellm. To start Gkrellm you can issue the command gkrellm to start up the monitoring system.
The Gkrellm interface is very easy to read. As you can see (in the image to the left) the monitors are very clear and well designed. In the image you see I have running Systemname, Calendar/Time, CPU, Disk, Wireless, Memory, Swap, Battery, and Uptime. You can also see the Memory and Swap monitors are showing no information. Some of the monitors are "interactive". By that you can click that particular monitor to stop monitoring. Click again and the monitoring stops. NOTE: Not all monitors are interactive (but all are configurable.)
Speaking of configuring, there are two ways to configure Gkrellm. You can right-click the window to open up a menu that offers the Configuration entry. Or you can click F1 when your mouse is in the Gkrellm window.
The configuration is very simple and straight-forward. From here you can configure which monitors to include, the theme to use, general options (which apply to the Gkrelm window itself), and any plugins you might have installed.
The configuration of all aspects of Gkrellm is simple. But most important is how to include a monitor. As you can see (in the image to the right) there is a listing for each built in monitor. Click on the monitor you want to add or remove and you will see, near the top of the options in the right pane, a check box to include the monitor. If you want to remove that monitor simply uncheck the box. The changes happen in real-time so there is no need to click OK (unless you want to dismiss the options window.)
Who wants to have a monitoring window on their desktop that doesn't match their desktop theme? And for that Gkrellm has a number of built-in themes. Click on the Theme entry from the configuration options and scroll through the various themes. You can also install themes. Find some themes from such a site as Freshmeat and untar the files in ~/.gkrellm/themes/. Restart Gkrellm and the themes will appear in the Themes section of the configuration window.
Gkrellm allows me to use my favorite Linux desktop and not miss out on simple necessities such as time, system stats, etc. If you're looking for an easy to use system monitor, Gkrellm is what you need.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.