Conky, a free, lightweight system monitor for X

about conky

In the next article we are going to take a look at how we can install Conky on Ubuntu 20.04. This is a program with which we can monitor Gnu / Linux and BSD systems. The program monitors different system resources to report current CPU usage, memory, disk storage, temperatures, connected users, etc. in a small widget that will be displayed on the desktop.

Conky is lightweight and highly configurable, so we can run it on our computer without having a significant impact on system performance. In the following lines we are going to see how to install it in Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa and some basic configuration options.

Install Conky on Ubuntu 20.04

In order to install Conky in our system, all we need to do is open a terminal (Ctrl + Alt + T) and in it execute the command:

install conky

sudo apt install conky-all

Enable Conky to start at boot

If you want this program to open automatically every time the system starts, open the Ubuntu application launcher and seeks “Applications at startup.

applications at startup

Within the window to be displayed, click on ‘Add‘in order to add a new program. This will open a new window, and in it we will write the name of the program “Conky System Monitoring”And the order to be used will be / usr / bin / conky.

add to apps at startup

When everything is complete we will click on the button ‘Add‘ to end. Then we can close the window, to reboot or log in again.

conky by default

When the desktop loads again, the Conky widget will load, and as you can see in the previous screen it’s a bit simple at the momentIn addition to being in a terrible position by default. Although it should already offer a concise view of what is happening with system resources.

Customize Conky

Configuration file

Now that Conky is up and running, we can work a bit on its aesthetics. Conky’s universal configuration file can be found at /etc/conky/conky.conf. If you are looking to apply universal changes, work directly with this file. Otherwise, To edit the configuration for your user only, first create a Conky configuration file as follows:

cp /etc/conky/conky.conf ~/.conkyrc

To apply these changes, you will have to reload the desktop by restarting. Thereafter, use your favorite text editor to open the configuration file.

vim ~/.conkyrc


The first of the necessary changes will be take Conky off the left side of the screen, which is where it appears by default. Change line 29 what does it say:

set alignment


For this other:


With this we will get Conky to appear on the right side of the desktop. Log out to see the changes.

conky aligned to the right

Network interface

The next thing to do is to get the network monitoring to work properly. By default, Conky monitors the network interface eth0, but your network interface most likely uses a different name.

network interface

Find the name of your network interface (type ifconfig in terminal) and then replace the eth0 value on line 76 with the name of your network interface. Save the changes to the file.

network option working

We can also configure Conky to monitor the external IP address of our system. For this we can add the following line to the configuration file under the directive conky.text:

external ip

${color grey}External IP: $color${execi 1000 wget -q -O-; echo}

After saving the file changes, we should already see our external IP on the desk:

external ip view


The next thing we’re going to do is make Conky look a little less like a black square on screen. For this we are going to add the following lines in the configuration file, in the main configuration section.

appearance options

own_window_argb_visual = true,

own_window_argb_value = 50,

double_buffer = true,

When finished we will click save to check how the changes look.

Conky with a basic setup

Everything seen so far, are just a few basic settings. There are many more possibilities that can be configured in Conky, provided you have a little knowledge and imagination. And if not, the internet is full of great settings that can be used.

extra conky configuration


For more information, users can visit the official page on GitHub of this project, or take a look at the manual page documentation:

man conky

This is one of the oldest and most useful system monitoring utilities available in Gnu / Linux. Once we get it to look good, it’s easy to forget that it’s not actually part of Ubuntu’s default desktop environment. Its lightweight and configurable nature makes it a favorite of many users, although it also has its detractors.

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