I'm used to having System monitoring in the top Gnome Panel: CPU, Temperature, Net, Fan-Speed. (see screenshot below)

screenshot of Gnome 2 panel showing the system monitor applets

In Unity, the Top Panel is locked for window name and global menu, so I can't add panel applets. So my question is:

Is there a way to replace this kind of system monitoring (always visible, taking not much space) in Unity?


10 Answers 10


Exactly like old gnome indicator: http://www.webupd8.org/2011/05/network-memory-and-cpu-usage-indicator.html#more

Note from the link: Once installed, launch System Load Indicator from Dash. Unlike the old gnome applets, this is how to add those indicators to the panel.

  • Note: indicator-multiload and others are now standard you do not need the PPA. For tutorials see: howtogeek.com/118908/…
    – Tully
    Dec 29, 2014 at 2:48

I found the following question and answer that solved the problem for me. It contains a list of replacements for the old applets called application indicators. Unfortunately not all of them are available for natty yet, but at least I got a very basic system load monitor (indicator-sysmonitor) and a weather indicator (indicator-weather) working.

enter image description here

Click the button to install:

Install via the software center


Here is a quick and dirty system monitor that I hacked together out of python:


It uses the "System Monitor Indicator" (here) to call the script that I wrote. To use it:

  1. install indicator-sysmonitor. To do that, run the following command:

    sudo apt-add-repository ppa:alexeftimie/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install indicator-sysmonitor
  2. copy the script below into a file called sysmonitor

  3. make the script executable (chmod +x path-to-file)

  4. click on the indicator and choose "Preferences".

    Example showing that

  5. choose "use this command" and give it the path to the sysmonitor file.

    Here's the code:

    import re
    import sys
    import time
    import psutil
    #Functions:_    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __
    #__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \_
    #interface |bytes    packets errs drop fifo frame compressed multicast|bytes    packets errs drop fifo colls carrier compressed
    net_re = re.compile(r"\s*\S+:\s+(\d+)\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+(\d+)\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+\d+\s+")
    def getInOut():
      Get a readout of bytes in and out from /proc/net/dev.
      netfile = "/proc/net/dev"
      try: f = open(netfile)
        sys.stderr.write("ERROR: can't open "+netfile+".\n")
      f.readline()    #Burn the top header line.
      f.readline()    #Burn the second header line.
      inb = 0
      outb = 0
      for line in f:
        m = net_re.match(line)
        inb += int(m.group(1))
        outb += int(m.group(2))
      return (inb,outb)
    def sampleNet():
      Get a sample of I/O from the network interfaces.
      return makeSample(getInOut)
    def makeSample(function):
      inlist = list()
      outlist = list()
      (inbytes, outbytes) = function()
      (inbytes, outbytes) = function()
      return (inlist[1] - inlist[0], outlist[1] - outlist[0])
    def diskstatWrapper():
      Wrapper for the diskstats_parse function that returns just the in and out.
      ds = diskstats_parse("sda")
      return (ds["sda"]["writes"], ds["sda"]["reads"])
    def sampleDisk():
      Get a sample of I/O from the disk.
      return makeSample(diskstatWrapper)
    def diskstats_parse(dev=None):
        I found this on stackoverflow.
        file_path = '/proc/diskstats'
        result = {}
        # ref: http://lxr.osuosl.org/source/Documentation/iostats.txt
        columns_disk = ['m', 'mm', 'dev', 'reads', 'rd_mrg', 'rd_sectors',
                        'ms_reading', 'writes', 'wr_mrg', 'wr_sectors',
                        'ms_writing', 'cur_ios', 'ms_doing_io', 'ms_weighted']
        columns_partition = ['m', 'mm', 'dev', 'reads', 'rd_sectors', 'writes', 'wr_sectors']
        lines = open(file_path, 'r').readlines()
        for line in lines:
            if line == '': continue
            split = line.split()
            if len(split) != len(columns_disk) and len(split) != len(columns_partition):
                # No match
            data = dict(zip(columns_disk, split))
            if dev != None and dev != data['dev']:
            for key in data:
                if key != 'dev':
                    data[key] = int(data[key])
            result[data['dev']] = data
        return result
    #MAIN:    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __    __
    #__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \__/  \_
    (indiff, outdiff) = sampleNet()
    outstr = ""
    outstr += "cpu: "+str(int(psutil.cpu_percent()))+"%\t"
    outstr += "net: "+str(indiff/1000)+"|"+str(outdiff/1000)+" K/s\t"
    (diskin, diskout) = sampleDisk()
    outstr += "disk: "
      outstr += "+"
      outstr += "o"
    outstr += "|"
      outstr += "+"
      outstr += "o"
    print outstr

EDIT: if you want memory usage (as report by "top") add the lines

memperc = int(100*float(psutil.used_phymem())/float(psutil.TOTAL_PHYMEM))
outstr += "mem: "+str(memperc)+"%\t"

If you have version 2.0 of psutil then you can get the memory usage as reported by the GNOME System Monitor with the following line:

memperc = int(100*float(psutil.used_phymem()-psutil.cached_phymem())/float(psutil.TOTAL_PHYMEM))

If you have little space, and you prefer to have units for the net speed (b, k, M) you may use this as well

def withUnit(v):
    if v<1024:
      return "%03d" % v+"b";
    if v<1024**2:
      s= ("%f" % (float(v)/1024))[:3];
      if s[-1]=='.':
      return s +"k";

    return ("%f" % (float(v)/(1024**2)))[:3] +"M";

(indiff, outdiff) = sampleNet()
outstr = ""
outstr += "c"+ "%02d" % int(psutil.cpu_percent())+" "
outstr += "m"+ "%02d" % int((100*float(psutil.used_phymem())/float(psutil.TOTAL_PHYMEM)))+" "

outstr += "d"+withUnit(indiff)+" u"+withUnit(outdiff)
  • thanks James for the formatting and the missing step (apt-add-repository). Apr 28, 2011 at 18:09
  • Could you please tell me how i could get the RAM % instead of disk usage?
    – Vijay
    May 3, 2011 at 16:13
  • 2
    @neo: make a function that parses "/proc/meminfo" much like the one called "getInOut()" (the fields in meminfo are self explainatory). Then call your new function with makeSample(). If there's demand for this I'll write and post the code. May 4, 2011 at 21:21
  • 1
    @neo: i added the lines for memory usage to the post. if mem usage is all you want, I suggest you remove all the other lines from the script so python doesn't have to parse them. May 6, 2011 at 20:19
  • 1
    I discovered the same thing and wrote a short Perl script that monitors network utilization. Sep 28, 2011 at 6:59

You can download and install a software package (.deb) from

https://launchpad.net/indicator-sysmonitor/+download here. Once installed you will find it under Applications > Accessories > Sysyem Monitor Indicator and it will look like this in Unity; enter image description here


My take on the problem: https://gist.github.com/982939


enter image description here


There is someone working on hardware sensors for indicator-applet. See Is there a hardware temperature sensor indicator?


You can install a port of the gnome system monitor indicator from: https://launchpad.net/~indicator-multiload/+archive/stable-daily


It's not in the top panel, but you could use Conky.

I don't use Conky, but there are some slim themes out there and I think you can make it always on top. (Although I don't know what part of the screen would be good to cover...)

  • +1 I've been using Conky for this exactly (as a system monitor applet replacement). It's extremely configurable, and it's likely that it will take some work to get the desired result. For some good-looking and interesting configs, I've been using one suggested on webupd8.org
    – belacqua
    Apr 15, 2011 at 3:27

I think this will be closest thing to it for now. Cpu monitor


I tried a few applications and I found that the one on KDE is for me the best system monitor tool: ksysguard.

It is in the Ubuntu standard repositories, so you just install it in Software Center.

See the comparison in this screenshot. How much processor Gnome System Monitor uses vs KDE System Monitor (ksysguard)

As you can see, ksysguard is a lot better.

  • Does that fit in the panel? Mar 21, 2014 at 16:59

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