Ubuntu show CPU and Memory usages in Top Bar

This tutorial explains how to display the current usages of CPU, Memory, Network, Swap space and Hard disk in Ubuntu as notification in top bar. Learn how to view the real time usages of system resources in Ubuntu step by step with practical examples.

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In this tutorial, we will use the indicator-multiload application. Before we learn how to install and use this application, let’s quickly understand how it is different from already installed applications for system monitoring and tracking.

There are several commands and applications available in Ubuntu to monitor and track the usages of system resources. But most of them provide information at command prompt or in their own window. If you collecting system information for reporting and tracking purpose, these utilities are fine and do their job perfectly.

However if you need real time information for troubleshooting purpose, these applications stand nowhere near the indicator-multiload application. The indicator-multiload application not only provides real time information but also displays that information in top bar as notification.

Following table lists the key difference between regular system monitoring tools and this tool.

Regular system monitoring and tracking tools The indicator-multiload application
These tools usually provide static information. This application provides real time information.
Output of these tools can be stored in text files. Output of this application can’t be stored in text files.
These tools usually provide information at command prompt or in their own windows. This application provides information in top bar as notification.
Most of these tools are usually already installed as the part of the default installation. It’s an add-on application. We have to install it manually.
These applications are the best choices for reporting and tracking purpose. This is the right choice for monitoring and troubleshooting purpose.

Installing indicator-multiload application

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Installation of the indicator-multiload application is relatively simple. It requires only one command. Connect the system with the Internet and open a terminal. In terminal, run the following command.

$sudo apt install indicator-multiload

If system is connected with the Internet, this command not only downloads the necessary installation package from the official Ubuntu repository but also installs the downloaded package in appropriate location.

apt-get install

Starting application

To start it, click Dash (Application launcher) and search "system load indicator" in search box. From search results, click the system load indicator application.

launch application

By default this application shows information in graph format.

show indicator in notification area

To view the detailed information in text format, right click the graph from notification panel.

detailed information

Customizing application

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To customize it, click Preferences from right click menu.

preference of indicator

This will bring up the main window of the application. In main window, options are divided in three sections. Let’s understand each section in detail.

Monitored resources

This section allows us to select the resources which we want to monitor. By default, it only monitors CPU usage. If we want to monitor other resources as well, we have to select those resources here.

Option Used to monitor
Processor CPU usages
Memory RAM usages
Network Network Bandwidth speed
Swap Space Swap space usages
Load Waiting processes
Hard disk Read and write speed
Options

This section contains three options; auto start, system monitor width and system monitor update interval.

Auto start: - If we turn on this option, application will be started automatically when Ubuntu starts.

System monitor width: - This option allows us to adjust the width of the notification panel in top bar.

System monitor update interval: - This option allows us to adjust the time interval between two continuous updates.

Colors

This section has two options; built-in schemes and color palette.

Built-in schemes: - This option allows us to select the color scheme for notification panel from some pre-customized color schemes.

Color palette: - If require, this option allows us to change the color of a single indicator or all indicators individually in selected color scheme.

system indicator notification setting 1

In the bottom of the main window, there are three buttons. Let’s understand each of them individually.

Advanced

Clicking this button will bring a child window which allows us to customize the graph indicators.

Child window is divided in two panes. Left pane contains a list of all resources which can be monitored by this application. Right pane displays the options that can be customized for selected resource in left pane.

system indicator notification setting 2

To monitor a resource in graph format, select it from left pane and in right pane toggle the visible button to ON in Graph section. By default this option is enabled for all resources.

If you are monitoring resources for troubleshooting purpose, I highly recommend you to use the text format instead of the graph format.

Menu items

Clicking this button also brings a child window that allows us to customize the menu which appears when we click the notification panel. This window is also divided in two panes. Left pane shows a list of resources which are being currently monitored by this application. Right pane contains five control buttons; Add, Remove, Edit, Up and Down.

By default this application only monitors CPU, Memory, Network (bandwidth), Swap, Load and disk (read/write speed). If we want to monitor any additional resource, we can add that through the Add button.

If we don’t want to monitor a resource anymore, we can remove that through the Remove button. For this, select that resource from left pane, and click the Remove button.

Edit button allows us to add any additional functionality or remove current functionality from monitoring for a resource. For example, by default this application tracks both downloading and uploading speed of network. If we want to track only the downloading speed, we can remove uploading speed from monitoring. For this select network indicator [Net:down$(speed(net.down)),up$(speed(net.up))] from left pane and click Edit. Now remove the command which tracks uploading speed [up$(speed(net.up))].

Up/Down buttons allow us to adjust the order of indicators. For example, if we want to display the Memory usage before the CPU usage, we can do that through these buttons. Select Memory indicator from left pane and click the Up button. This will put the Memory indicator above the CPU indicator.

Whatever changes we will make in this window will apply in the right click menu box.

system indicator notification setting 3

Indicator items

Just like previous two buttons, this button also opens a child window. This window exactly looks like the window which we saw in previous button except the first line of left pane. By default in this window, first line of the left pane is blank.

First line of left pane represents the notification panel. Whatever indicator we will put in first line, will show its output in notification panel.

system indicator notification setting 3

To view the text notification of any indicator in notification panel, select that indicator and click the Up button to move that in first line.

For example to view the current CPU usage in top bar as notification, select CPU indicator [(CPU $(percent(cpu.inuse))] in left pane and click the Up button.

system indicator notification setting 4

We can also put multiple indicators in first line. For example to view the current CPU usage and Memory usages in top bar as notification, select first line and click Edit button. Now insert the Memory indicator just after the CPU indicator.

system indicator notification setting 5

Once necessary indicators are added, click close button twice (first to close the child window and second to close the main window) to apply the changes.

Uninstalling application

Due to any reason if you want to uninstall this application, open terminal and run the following command.

$sudo apt-get remove indicator-multiload

When asked, type y and press Enter key to confirm the uninstallation.

uninstallation

That’s all for this tutorial. If you like this tutorial, please don’t forget to share it through your favorite social site.

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