Using htop to Monitor System Processes on Linux

By Lowell Heddings on July 10th, 2007

Most people familiar with Linux have used the top command line utility to see what process is taking the most CPU or memory. There’s a similar utility called htop that is much easier to use for normal tasks.

The first great thing about htop is that it will show you your usage per CPU, as well as a meaningful text graph of your memory and swap usage right at the top. I find this much easier to understand at a glance than the default output from top.

Installing htop on Ubuntu

Installing on Ubuntu is as simple as apt-get… You can also grab the source from the htop site linked at the bottom of this article.

sudo apt-get install htop

Once installed, just type htop at a terminal to launch it, and notice the great text-mode graph at the top of the display:

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But here’s the best part… just use your Up/Down arrow keys to select a process, and then you can kill it with the F9 key if you’d like, or you can change the priority by using the F7 and F8 keys. (note that you’ll have to be root to give anything really high priority).

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You can also use the F6 key to change the default sort column really easily:

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You can check the setup options for a lot more settings like which columns should show up by default.

htop – process viewer for linux

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/10/07
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