Looking for the last, best system monitor you could ever imagine for the Linux desktop? Jack Wallen is certain he’s found that tool in System Monitoring Center.

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Linux has no shortage of monitoring tools. Toss a rock at a Linux desktop and you’ll probably hit a handful of monitors. That doesn’t mean, however, that every one of those monitors is worth your time. But every so often a monitoring tool comes along that does something different or packages the monitoring of services and performance in such a way that makes you realize how important these tools are.

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System Monitoring Center is one such tool. I’m not normally impressed by system monitoring tools in GUI form. Why? Because most of the time, when I want to check system performance, I opt for the terminal. However, after installing System Monitoring Center I was so impressed I realized I could happily leave behind the terminal for this task (at least on the desktop).

That’s how good this tool is.

But what exactly is it?

Simply put, System Monitoring Center is a GUI that pulls together real-time information on your systems for:

  • Performance
  • Processes
  • Users
  • Startup
  • Services
  • System

In a single GUI, System Monitoring Center you can not only get all of the monitoring information you need, but you can also actually interact with the tool (such as process management and user management). Once you start using System Monitoring Center, you’ll shrug off all similar tools.

Let’s install System Monitoring Center on Debian-based Pop!_OS and see what it can do.

What you’ll need

The only things you’ll need to make this work are a running instance of a Debian-based Linux distribution and a user with sudo privileges. Of course, you can install this on either a desktop or a server, but the server will need to have a desktop environment installed.

How to install System Monitoring Center

Head over to the System Monitoring Center GitHub release page and download the latest version of the .deb file for the software. Once you’ve downloaded that file, open a terminal window and change into the ~/Downloads directory (or wherever you saved it on your local storage).

Issue the command:

sudo dpkg -i system-monitoring-center*.deb

The installation will error out, but the fix is very simple. After you are returned to your prompt, resolve the failed install with:

sudo apt-get install -f

The above command will install the dependencies for the software. After that completes, you should find an entry for System Monitoring Center in your desktop menu. You can also start the software with the command:

system-monitoring-center

How to use System Monitoring Center

It should come as no surprise that this tool is incredibly easy to use. Once it opens, you’ll be greeted by a very user-friendly UI with 6 tabs at the top (Figure A).

Figure A

The System Monitoring Center UI is laid out such that anyone can figure out how it is used.
The System Monitoring Center UI is laid out such that anyone can figure out how it is used.

Click on the Processes tab and you can then right-click any listed process (Figure B) and stop it, terminate it, kill it (there are subtle differences), change the priority and view the details.

Figure B

The right-click context menu for a running process in System Monitoring Center.
The right-click context menu for a running process in System Monitoring Center.

Click on the Users tab to see all logged-in users (Figure C).

Figure C

The Users tab gives you power over those logged-in users.
The Users tab gives you power over those logged-in users.

If you see a user logged in that shouldn’t be, right-click the entry and select End User Session to force that user off the system.

The Startup tab allows you to view a list of all startup services and (with a right-click: Figure D) either add or remove them from start-up, run them immediately, or open the desktop file for the service.

Figure D

Controlling startup services is easy with System Control Monitor.
Controlling startup services is easy with System Control Monitor.

The Services tab allows you to see all available services on your system. With a right-click of an entry (Figure E), you can start, stop, restart, reload, enable, disable and mask a service.

Figure E

Information about any given service is but a right-click away.
Information about any given service is but a right-click away.

If you select Details from the right-click menu, a new window will appear that gives you general information for the process and even the dependencies required for that service (Figure F).

Figure F

Viewing the dependencies for the Bluetooth service on Pop!_OS.
Viewing the dependencies for the Bluetooth service on Pop!_OS.

Finally, the System tab lists all the necessary information you need about your system (such as OS, vendor, desktop environment, windowing system, number of packages installed and more (Figure G).

Figure G

System information for my Pop!_OS desktop installation.
System information for my Pop!_OS desktop installation.

And that’s all there is to System Monitoring Center. This tool is so good, every Linux distribution should consider defaulting to it instead of the tool they currently offer. With more information than you’ll probably ever need, this is a one-stop shop for anyone who likes to stay informed on how their machines are performing and prefers to be able to control users and services in one, convenient location.

And on the off-chance you’re not running a Debian-based distribution, you can install System Monitoring Center from source as well (which can be downloaded from the same location as the .deb file).

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