How to Monitor System Processes in Linux

Have you ever heard the term there is more than one way to skin a cat? Clearly something that creates a rather ugly image. But the idea is that there is more than one way to get something done. When it comes to Linux, this is certainly true to a fault.

How you monitor system processes in Linux really comes down to the information you are seeking bundled with the type of interface you prefer. So if you are looking for a GUI solution to monitoring your Linux system processes, both the GNOME and KDE desktop provide monitors that will meet your needs.

However if you are a CLI (command line interface) sort of person, then allow me to point out that the most common tool for casual usage is called “top”. The thing that makes top so powerful is that just about everything you need to know about processes running are explained with the most intensive right there in plain view.

How to Monitor System Processes in Linux
Photo by KobraSoft

I also like the fact that this runs in near real time, updating every five seconds. I think for most people though, it’s the hot key commands that are the icing on the cake. There is something to be said for having hot key controls over a CLI application like top. It can be a real time saver.

Network, memory and other functions

Because top by itself, might not be enough, there are other CLI tools available to Linux users that might be worth checking into as well.

W, more than just a letter! It’s true that by running the letter w in the CLI you can instantly see who’s logged in and what they’ve been into. Sorry, but generally the output is less than exciting.

Statistics, anyone? If you enjoy running stats on your system, consider installing sysstat and running the iostat tool to see statistical data on your machine’s usage.

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