Conky: monitor your system

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Use Conky to monitor your system

Conky is a very useful and versatile tool for checking what's going on in your system.


1. Below you see a screenshot of Conky on my laptop (true size, transparent background, top right of my display):

And another screenshot, of Conky on my desktop (true size, opaque background, top right of my display):

Install Conky

2. You can install Conky like this:

a. Launch a terminal window.
(You can launch a terminal window like this: *Click*)

b. Now type (use copy/paste to transport this magical incantation to the terminal):

sudo apt-get install conky-all

Press Enter. When prompted, type your password. Your password will remain entirely invisible, not even dots will show, this is normal.
Press Enter again.

(continued in the column on the right)

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Configure Conky

3. Now the most important part: the configuration. I've made four prefab configurations, which should fit most use cases. These configurations are fully compliant with the new standard in the Conky version in Ubuntu 16.04 and Mint 18, so they can't be used in earlier versions. Here they are:

- laptop with wireless internet (wifi), transparent background

- laptop with wireless internet (wifi), opaque background

- desktop with wired internet (ethernet), transparent background

- desktop with wired internet (ethernet), opaque background

Download the file that's appropriate for you.

Note 1: both laptop configurations can cause a malfunction: when that happens, Conky constantly shifts position and finally crashes. That has to do with the system name for your battery. In the configuration file it's called BAT1, but in some cases it should be called BAT0.

You can check it in your own system with the following terminal command (use copy/paste to avoid typing errors):
ls /sys/class/power_supply

If it's BAT0, then change it in the configuration file. It's a simple text document: you can find the battery in the last section of the document, called TEXT.

Note 2: for displaying the network information and traffic, run the commands ifconfig and iwconfig in a terminal to determine the system name of your wifi chipset and/or ethernet card. Then replace XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX by that name in the prefab configurations. For example: wlx5cffb92af6e5 or enp3s0.

d. Then move the file to the right location with this terminal command:
mv -v ~/Downloads/conkyrc* ~/

e. Then rename it like this (the dot before the name makes it a hidden file):
mv -v ~/conkyrc* .conkyrc

Note: do you want to see CPU temperature in Celsius instead of in Fahrenheit in Conky? Then find the following line in .conkyrc:
temperature_unit = 'fahrenheit',
..... and delete it. Also replace "Fahrenheit" by "Celsius" in this line (in the text part):
${color1}CPU temperature ${alignr}${color}${acpitemp} degrees Fahrenheit

Celsius is the default, so after logging out and logging in, you should see Celsius.

Make Conky launch automatically after logging in

4. Finally, make Conky launch automatically after you log in.

In most desktop environments you can simply add Conky directly to your startup applications. In Linux Mint Cinnamon, that can for example be done like this:

Menu - Preferences - Startup Applications

Click Add - Custom command

Name: Conky (system monitor)

Command: conky

Startup delay: set this at 20 seconds. Reason: otherwise Conky might conflict with the loading of the desktop wallpaper.

In Xfce (Xubuntu) you need a slightly different approach. Also in Xfce, Conky needs a delayed launch (of 20 seconds or so), because otherwise it might "disappear" behind the desktop wallpaper.
For Xfce / Xubuntu, do this:

Menu button - Settings - Session and Startup

Click Add

Conky (system monitor)

Command (use copy/paste to avoid typing errors):
sh -c "sleep 20 && conky"

Click OK

You're done! Conky should launch automatically now, after you log in.

Warning: don't add too many items to Conky

5. Conky is enormously versatile and expandable. But it's important that you don't add too many elements to your Conky: otherwise your Conky will start to use too much system resources....

With the terminal command "top" you can see how much system resources Conky is eating. You can take that into account when changing the settings.

The settings in the configuration files that I've made, are conservative and aimed at using little resources.

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