Taking your hardware's temperature

Command Line – lm-sensors

© Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

© Photo by Jarritos Mexican Soda on Unsplash

Article from Issue 261/2022

With lm-sensors, you can monitor your hardware's internal temperature to avoid overheating.

Hardware temperatures have long been the concern of system administrators and server farms. However, with summer and the recent record temperatures worldwide, excess heat inside a computer case has become every user's concern. Too much heat can cause a computer to act erratically. In extreme cases, overheating can result in your computer shutting down until it cools off or, worse, cause permanent damage to sensitive components. If you're using a laptop positioned on your bare legs, you could even suffer third-degree burns.

With so much at stake, there is a real need to monitor hardware temperatures, at least on new machines, on hotter days and during long sessions on your computer. On Linux, you have a number of utilities that will read temperature settings, but many are minimally useful or even obsolete. As a result, you not only have the heat to contend with, but also inadequate or obsolete tools as well. Fortunately, the lm-sensors (Linux monitoring sensors) [1] package can help solve this problem, although it does require some setup and the loading of kernel modules.

A Matter of Thermodynamics

Quite simply, computer components give off heat when they are in use. When crammed into a confined space, their heat can easily increase rather than disperse. Faster components generally produce more heat. The problem can be especially difficult with a laptop, whose components are crammed into an even smaller space than in a workstation or server. The trend in the last decade toward thinner and thinner laptops aggravates the problem even further.


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