My gkrellM config strings.

On most of my desktop machines I use a system monitoring application called GKrellM to keep an eye on the amount of memory in use, aggregate network activity, swap space, and battery life. It's a handy utility and is very configurable. I have a couple of tweaks that I like to make to my settings to make its output a little more useful by increasing the granularity. I'm going to assume that you're interested enough in GKrellM to play around with the settings (right click on the GKrellM panel, Configuration). In the interest of full disclosure, I also intend on referring to this post in the future when setting up a new workstation, but I also hope that somebody might get some use out of it. I might even get around to putting up screenshots one of these years.

First, I find it handy to know whether or not disk activity is from data being read from the drive or being written to it. Expand the Builtins list and click on Disk. Then click on the Setup tab. Enter the following in the Format String field: r:$r\rw:$w

Broken down, this means:

  • r: (bytes read from disk)
  • right-justify the next field
  • w: (bytes written to disk)
I like to get the same kind of stats for my network traffic as well, so I can tell if I'm downloading or uploading more when troubleshooting. Assuming that you still have the GKrellM Configuration panel open, click down to Net in the Builtins list and then on the Setup tab. Enter the following in the Format String field: t:$t\rr:$r\b\c\f$L

Broken down again, this string means:
  • t: (bytes transmitted)
  • right-justify the next field
  • r: (bytes received)
  • jump down to the bottom-left corner of the meter
  • center the next bit of text
  • use the alternate font defined for the theme for the next bit of text
  • display my user-defined name for the interface (i.e., wlan0 and not wlp3s25)