Linux System Monitoring Like a Game

Because top is so boring…

Al Williams
Oct 17 · 2 min read
Image for post
Image for post
Bpytop running on my machine

They say a watched pot never boils, and it does pay to monitor your Linux systems. In typical Linux fashion, there are multiple tools you can use. Perhaps the best known is top. When you run top, you can see what processes are running and how many resources they use. There are a myriad of keystroke commands to filter, sort, and otherwise pick through information.

The problem is that top is an old program that looks pretty boring. That’s spawned imitators that look better and often improve on top’s information, too. For example, htop shows some color coding and a slightly nicer display.

But even htop doesn’t look like the kind of console you’d see on a movie or a video game. If you need to leave a screen up to watch your operating system, why not make it look cool? That’s the idea behind bpytop. It works with Linux, OSX, and BSD, too.

Starting out as bashtop, bpytop is a rewrite using Python and it shows real-time graphs and data in a colorful and interesting way. The screen would look right at home in the next hacker movie you see.

The program has many configuration options you can set in a file or from the interface. Many commands are letters, like they are in top, but the interface shows the letters highlighted so you can easily discover them. For example a lowercase m selects the mode, while a lowercase g toggles memory graphs. A lowercase s toggles swap file stats.

In the full view (the default), there are boxes for processes, network activity, CPU loading, memory, and network. It looks great and it is surprisingly useful, too.

Admittedly, you can get the same data from other tools, but what fun is that? What’s your favorite eye candy program? You know, something that would look good just leaving it running to wow visitors.

Al Williams

Written by

Engineer. Author. Team Leader. Lots of other things. I blog about hardware hacking for Hackaday (www.hackaday.com), but talk about other topics here.

For Linux Users

If you use Linux from the command line or from a GUI, we want to help you get the most from it. Look for tutorials, software reviews, and more. Using WSL or Cygwin? We got you covered. Some software topics will apply to any platform (e.g,. Chrome, Google Docs, etc.).

Al Williams

Written by

Engineer. Author. Team Leader. Lots of other things. I blog about hardware hacking for Hackaday (www.hackaday.com), but talk about other topics here.

For Linux Users

If you use Linux from the command line or from a GUI, we want to help you get the most from it. Look for tutorials, software reviews, and more. Using WSL or Cygwin? We got you covered. Some software topics will apply to any platform (e.g,. Chrome, Google Docs, etc.).

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