Graphical Process and System Management Tools

The GNOME and KDE desktop environments offer a rich set of network and system-monitoring tools. Graphical interface elements, such as menus and buttons, and graphical output, including metering and real-time load charts, make these tools easy to use. These clients, which require an active X session and (in some cases) root permission, are included with Ubuntu.

If you view the graphical tools locally while they are being run on a server, you must have X properly installed and configured on your local machine. Although some tools can be used to remotely monitor systems or locally mounted remote file systems, you have to properly configure pertinent X11 environment variables, such as $display, to use the software or use the ssh client's -x option when connecting to the remote host.

A handy little application is the xosview client, which provides load, CPU, memory and swap usage, disk I/O usage and activity, page swapping information, network activity, I/O activity, I/O rates, serial port status, and if APM is enabled, the battery level (such as for a laptop). You will have to obtain xosview using either synaptic or apt-get.

For example, to see most of these options, start the client like this:

$ sudo xosview -geometry 406x488 -font 8x16 +load +cpu +mem +swap \ +page +disk +int +net &

After you press Enter, you will see a display as shown in Figure 16.2.

Figure 16.2. The xosview client displays basic system stats in a small window. You can choose from several options to determine what it will monitor for you.

The display can be customized for a variety of hardware and information, and the xosview client (like most well-behaved X clients) obeys geometry settings such as size, placement, or font. If you have similar monitoring requirements, and want to try a similar but different client from xosview, try xcpustate, which has features that enable it to monitor network CPU statistics foreign to Linux. Neither of these applications is installed with the base set of packages; you have to install them manually if you want to use them.

Some of the graphical system- and process-monitoring tools included with Ubuntu are as follows:

• vncviewer AT&T's open-source remote session manager (part of the Xvnc package), which can be used to view and run a remote desktop session locally. This software (discussed in more detail in Chapter 19, "Remote Access with SSH and Telnet") requires an active, but background, X session on the remote computer.

• gnome-nettool A GNOME-developed tool that enables system administrators to carry out a wide range of diagnostics on network interfaces, including port scanning and route tracing.

• ethereal This graphical network protocol analyzer can be used to save or display packet data in real time and has intelligent filtering to recognize data signatures or patterns from a variety of hardware and data captures from third-party data capture programs, including compressed files. Some protocols include AppleTalk, Andrew File System (AFS), AOL's Instant Messenger, various Cisco protocols, and many more.

• gnome-system-monitor Replacing gtop, this tool is a simple process monitor offering two views: a list view and a moving graph. It is accessed via the System Tool menu selection as the System Monitor item (see Figure 16.3).

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