There are many tools for monitoring your system. After initially trying them all, most of us usually resort to using top on the command line, or htop if we're feeling flush. But bashtop might just change your mind. It's the kind of tool that's mocked up for a Hollywood-style hacker movie, or the kind of tool that comes out of the Amiga demo scene. It's an explosion of color, shading, and movement. Even more remarkably, it's actually useful and simply runs from the command line. It will run without any further interaction and show you CPU usage per core, process usage with a filter, memory and storage usage via bar graphs, and network bandwidth. There's even a tiny scrolling histogram for each core of your CPU, just beneath its running speed and above the trinity of average load percentages.

If you're not happy with the default look, bashtop can be configured to use a different theme (nine are included by default). These include flat and shaded versions, dark and light, and themes that fit with common terminal color schemes, such as solarized. This is all configured through a comprehensive configuration file that also lets you fine-tune many of the individual elements in the output. You can disable certain elements, for example, or use a different source for an element's data, or double the horizontal resolution for a graph to more easily see when a process is affecting your system's performance. It's already a fully functional utility, but the project is developing quickly and has an ambitious list of to-do items that includes GPU monitoring, dynamic pane resizing, custom color gradients, and even Docker statistics. All of this would make Bashtop not just the best looking command-line monitor, but also the most powerful.

Project Website

Bashtop is evidence that command-line system monitoring doesn't have to be boring.

Tiling window manager


Not so long ago, tiling window managers were considered super-nerdy (in a good way), perhaps akin to Gentoo and Linux from Scratch. This was because, by nature, they offered very little visual prompting on how you interacted with your desktop session. A single application would appear full screen until you launched a second and third one, and the space these subsequent applications occupied was set by whatever secret tiling mode you were running. This could be changed with a secret key combination, and there were further secret key combinations for rotating application positions, sizes, and the dividers for the screen. This is how it used to be. But thanks to some excellent Plasma and Gnome scripts that turn those popular desktops into tiling desktops, the concept has undergone a resurgence in exposure, popularity, and usability.

Qtile is a modern option that sits between the old xmonad style and the new scripted desktop solution. While its keyboard shortcuts are as secret as those early tiling window managers, it's built on a shiny new version of Python, so the back end is modern. It's also relatively easy to install, via pip, but it will need to replace whatever your current window manager is. That means there are new things to learn, but key bindings and layout variables are all configurable. There's a mode, for example, where new apps will run in full screen, even when you launch second, third, and fourth instances. Rather than tiling these applications, Qtile lets you easily switch between them with a shortcut you already know, Alt+Tab. In another mode, you can still stack new applications, letting them split the view, and switch between this view and full screen views with other shortcuts. A minimal top panel shows these layouts as groups, and you can select them with the mouse, as well as drag panes out of the stack into the position you want. If the scripts in Gnome and Plasma have piqued your interest, Qtile is a great next step toward tiling paradise.

Project Website

Qtile is a tiling window manager that can be run on its own or from inside Gnome.

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