Knowledge Base

Linux - Conky basic set up.

Started by: dtuxcomp
On: 14/01/2019 | 17:48
Replies: 7

by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 17:48 edited: 14/01/2019 | 18:29

I use the system monitor app Conky to keep a group of useful information updated on the desktop of my Linux PC's. Here's a picture of how it looks.




Having got it just how I like it I've talked a few people through how to get it installed and set up on platforms like FB etc which really isn't a good format so I figured it was time for another tips thread Smiley Wink Smiley Happy


I'll gradually lay out the various steps, as aways I can answer questions in this thread or elsewhere and everyone is welcome to chip in with their own tweaks to this brilliant monitor.

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Message 1 of 8
by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 18:27 edited: 15/01/2019 | 10:36

Step 1 :- Download template & install Conky


Ok so first up some basic information about my system as this is what I'm basing this guide on but it's fairly easy to apply this to a different one. I'm running Linux Mint 19.1 with the XFCE desktop. I opt to use a global setting for Conky so it would look the same for every user, it is possible instead to define a profile for each user and if anyone wants it done that way let me know and I can add a post about that method.


I've been using basically the same set up for years having borrowed it from somewhere Smiley Wink I just tweak it occasionally as needed, so I've uploaded a template of that for people to download rather than starting out with the default one that comes with Conky. You can download it from here.


Once you've downloaded that open a terminal wherever it has been saved, usually home/Downloads.


Now you need to install the Conky ap itself, on Mint and any Ubuntu / Debian based systems you do that by typing the following.


sudo apt update && sudo apt install conky-all


Once that has installed you can test the default works by typing the word conky into the terminal, you should see a display show up on the top left of the desktop. To get rid of it just type [Ctrl-C] to stop conky and get the terminal prompt back.


Next Step

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Message 2 of 8
by: jonkent
on: 14/01/2019 | 18:39
Man, that takes me back Smiley Happy

I haven't used Conky in donkey's years,
When I had it on both my FreeBSD desktop and laptop way back when.
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Message 3 of 8
by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 20:24

@jonkent wrote:

Man, that takes me back Smiley Happy

I haven't used Conky in donkey's years,
When I had it on both my FreeBSD desktop and laptop way back when.

@jonkent  Wow !! FreeBSD Smiley Surprised Smiley Surprised and I thought I went niche Smiley Wink Smiley Happy What are you using now ?

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Message 4 of 8
by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 21:27 edited: 15/01/2019 | 00:00

Step 2 :- Edit configuration file


Ok so the next step is to get the hardware names for your network interfaces, these change from one PC to another so the easiest way to find them out is to open up a terminal and type




Here's what it returns on my laptop.




It doesn't matter if they are connected to the internet or not they will still show up here. This lists 3 interfaces but you only need the names of two, enx00e04c534458 which I've highlighted in this picture is the ethernet interface and wlp1s0 is the wireless. So leave this terminal open and open another wherever you downloaded the config file from the previous post, probably home/Downloads/ you are looking for a file called conky.conf


Now you need to edit the file to add these names so the network monitors know which interfaces to track. Once you've found the file, open it in a text / code editor, xed is the default one in Mint and is fairly easy to work with so I'll use that for this thread. In the terminal type xed conky.conf it's a fairly long file but you are looking for a section near the end so it's easier to scroll or skip to the end of the file and work back up until you find this section.




If you look at the four lines above the one saying "#NETWORK SETTINGS ENDS." you will see each one contains wlan123 and eth123 replace these with the names of your wifi and ethernet interfaces which you can copy from the open terminal showing the output from the command ifconfig, if you use "find & replace" to make these changes it will also alter the top line that starts "#NETWORK INTERFACES" that's not a problem as it's only a comment line I've added to make the file clearer to read and easier for people to find this section.


Once you've edited all four lines and it's all correct you can save it and close the editor so you get back to the terminal.


Now you need to copy the config with the following so Conky will read it each time it is started.


sudo cp -p conky.conf /etc/conky/


This will ask for your password as it needs elevated permissions to write to that area of the system. It will only display a message if something goes wrong otherwise the terminal prompt will display again. At this point you can test it's working and displaying correctly by typing conky you should see it display like it did in the first picture with the various meters and monitors showing the network activity, CPU usage etc. To get your terminal back hit [Ctrl-C] don't worry that the Conky display closes, you can get it back without tying up a terminal by using the run dialogue tool / application launcher, on my XFCE desktop this is accessed by hitting [Alt-F2] or you can use the search box in the menu.


You've now got a working Conky install and you can edit the config file as much as you want, best to keep a copy. The config file isn't too long so you could print it out, at about 100 lines or so it'll fill a couple of pages but once you get the hang of the lauguage it uses it's fairly easy to read and edit. The net is full of far more complex configs if you've got a taste for tweaking it Smiley Wink Smiley Happy


Now you've moved the file you will need to edit it as root so use the following if you want to do more editing at any point.


sudo xed /etc/conky/conky.conf


At this stage Conky isn't set up to start at boot so when you shut down or reboot you'll have to run it again. In the next post I'll explain how to get it to start at boot.


Next step

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Message 5 of 8
by: jonkent
on: 14/01/2019 | 22:01
The makeup of my units now are all primarily OpenBSD, which are all in a rack accommodating a firewall and servers. My desk space which I once used for my main desktop, etc. has been in use for other projects for a good number of years now, and most of my main 'use' has/is done though a smart phone (being a die hard BlackBerry user, I've always gotten decent productivity value from them).

The only main 'desktop' in use resides in a 4U chassis mounted in another rack which houses AV gear, and is used chiefly as a MAME/console emulation box running Windows. I have had the notion to change the OS of this up, but I have other projects eating my time, and for the now it just 'works' Smiley Happy

Anyway, as you were chief, don't mean to invade your thread Smiley Happy
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Message 6 of 8
by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 22:50 edited: 14/01/2019 | 23:20

@jonkent You're not invading at all, for starters I did ask Smiley Wink anyway that's what I like about doing these kinds of threads here on GG, I can link the tips stages to each other so they skip over the conversations meaning we can still have a natter that's roughly on topic in between. Once I've got all the steps drafted I'll go back and edit each one to link to the next Smiley Happy

Wow, you make my sad little home network look like a pound-shop PC world Smiley Wink

Personally, I managed to go Win-free over 5 years ago, I don't preach to others that they should ditch it, I've just never liked it and I've been using PC's since before there WAS Windows, I remember being in college using Unix on the mainframe and Dos 3 or thereabouts on the non-networked PC's when they installed this fancy new Windows 3.X on two PC's that we were all invited to have a play on, everyone had a nose and walked away shaking their heads, the general consensus was "That'll never catch on" Smiley Happy Smiley Happy

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Message 7 of 8
by: dtuxcomp
on: 14/01/2019 | 23:18 edited: 15/01/2019 | 00:01

Step 3 :- Autostart Conky at boot


This process will vary a bit depending on which desktop and distro you use but the general method is similar.


On XFCE you need to open the menu and find Session and Startup. On other desktops if you can't find that try searching for Autostart Applications or similar, if you get stuck post a message here with the desktop and distro you are using and I'll try to find the exact option for you, don't forget to give me an "@" mention in the post so I know there's a post waiting for me.




Click on the Application Autostart tab and then on Add




Fill in the fields like so.




The Name and Description fields are just text so don't have to be exactly what's shown here but the Command field needs to contain sh -c "sleep 10; conky;" verbatim. On other desktops there is a field for startup delay, the sleep 10 command takes care of that so leave it at zero. I found on one old laptop I had to increase the sleep value as it was conflicting with the desktop background being drawn and leaving a graphical mess, when I changed it to 30 it allowed for the background to be cleanly drawn and then the Conky display to sit on top of it.


Once that is all filled in hit OK to save the edit and test with a reboot.


If Conky appears on your desktop without any problems, treat yourself to a well deserved cuppa Smiley Wink Smiley Happy


If you've run into problems or just want to show off your handy work feel free to post here and give me an "@" mention.



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Message 8 of 8