Conky – The Ultimate X Based System Monitor Application

Conky is a system monitor application written in ‘C’ Programming Language and released under GNU General Public License and BSD License. It is available for Linux and BSD Operating System. The application is X (GUI) based that was originally forked from Torsmo.

Features

  1. Simple User Interface
  2. Higher Degree of configuration
  3. It can show System stats using built-in objects (300+) as well as external scripts either on the desktop or in it’s own container.
  4. Low on Resource Utilization
  5. Shows system stats for a wide range of system variables which includes but not restricted to CPU, memory, swap, Temperature, Processes, Disk, Network, Battery, email, System messages, Music player, weather, breaking news, updates and blah..blah..blah
  6. Available in Default installation of OS like CrunchBang Linux and Pinguy OS.
Lesser Known Facts about Conky
  1. The Name conky was derived from a Canadian Television Show.
  2. It has already been ported to Nokia N900.
  3. It is no more maintained officially.

Conky Installation and Usage in Linux

Before we install conky, we need to install packages like lm-sensors, curl and hddtemp using following command.

# apt-get install lm-sensors curl hddtemp

Time to detect-sensors.

# sensors-detect

Note: Answer ‘Yes‘ when prompted!

Check all the detected sensors.

# sensors
Sample Output
acpitz-virtual-0
Adapter: Virtual device
temp1:        +49.5°C  (crit = +99.0°C)

coretemp-isa-0000
Adapter: ISA adapter
Physical id 0:  +49.0°C  (high = +100.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 0:         +49.0°C  (high = +100.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)
Core 1:         +49.0°C  (high = +100.0°C, crit = +100.0°C)

Conky can be installed from repo as well as, can be compiled from source.

# yum install conky              [On RedHat systems]
# apt-get install conky-all      [On Debian systems]

Note: Before you install conky on Fedora/CentOS, you must have enabled EPEL repository.

After conky has been installed, just issue following command to start it.

$ conky &
Conky Monitor Window

Conky Monitor in Action

It will run conky in a popup like window. It uses the basic conky configuration file located at /etc/conky/conky.conf.

You may need to integrate conky with the desktop and won’t like a popup like window every-time. Here is what you need to do

Copy the configuration file /etc/conky/conky.conf to your home directory and rename it as ‘.conkyrc‘. The dot (.) at the beginning ensures that the configuration file is hidden.

$ cp /etc/conky/conky.conf /home/$USER/.conkyrc

Now restart conky to take new changes.

$ killall -SIGUSR1 conky
Conky Monitor Window

Conky Monitor Window

You may edit the conky configuration file located in your home dircetory. The configuration file is very easy to understand.

Here is a sample configuration of conky.

Conky Configuration

Conky Configuration

From the above window you can modify color, borders, size, scale, background, alignment and several other properties. By setting different alignments to different conky window, we can run more than one conky script at a time.

Using script other than the default for conky and where to find it?

You may write your own conky script or use one that is available over Internet. We don’t suggest you to use any script you find on the web which can be potentially dangerous unless you know what you are doing. However a few famous threads and pages have conky script that you can trust as mentioned below.

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=281865
http://conky.sourceforge.net/screenshots.html

At the above url, you will find every screenshot has a hyperlink, which will redirects to script file.

Testing Conky Script

Here I will be running a third party written conky-script on my Debian Jessie Machine, to test.

$ wget https://github.com/alexbel/conky/archive/master.zip
$ unzip master.zip 

Change current working directory to just extracted directory.

$ cd conky-master

Rename the secrets.yml.example to secrets.yml.

$ mv secrets.yml.example secrets.yml

Install Ruby before you could run this (ruby) script.

$ sudo apt-get install ruby
$ ruby starter.rb 
Conky Fancy Look

Conky Fancy Look

Note: This script can be modified to show your current weather, temperature, etc.

If you want to start conky at boot, add the below one liner to startup Applications.

conky --pause 10 
save and exit.

And Finally…such a lightweight and useful GUI eye candy like package is not in active stage and is not maintained officially anymore. The last stable release was conky 1.9.0 released on May 03, 2012. A thread on Ubuntu forum has gone over 2k pages of users sharing configuration. (link to forum : http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=281865/)

Conky Homepage

That’s all for now. Keep connected. Keep commenting. Share your thoughts and configuration in comments below.

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6 Responses

  1. Emmanuel says:

    well done :p tested and approved ^^ ( into a Kali Linux so I did a custom config based on a github )

  2. dubois says:

    please add conky-manager to the list of your program so much more interesting.
    See http://erikdubois.be/linux/install-conky-theme-aurora line 72 and 77.

  3. Falbe says:

    Hi, In the Title it says X based. Does it mean I will have problems with wayland or mir using Conky?

    • Avishek Kumar says:

      @ Falbe
      we have tested it on X11 server. If you are running its replacement like wayland or mir, it should work (not guaranteed). If you face problem we are here to help. Let us know.

  4. kosek says:

    apt-get install lm-sensor curl hddtemp

    should be ‘lm-sensors’

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