How-To Geek

Using htop to Monitor System Processes on Linux

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:


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).


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


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

Comments (15)

  1. FrontBumLover

    Mmmhmm, looks nice.. now to port it to freebsd.

  2. Anonymous

    What KDE theme are you using in those screenshots?

  3. The Geek

    It’s the default one that comes with Kubuntu, actually… it’s called Crystal

  4. The Geek

    I’m pretty sure it will compile fine on FreeBSD….

  5. FrankX

    I am sure you missed the word “Install” out of the Ubuntu command to install Htop.

    Think it should be…

    sudo apt-get install htop

    ;o) All the best!


  6. The Geek


    Thanks for noticing that! That’s gotta be the 10th time I’ve forgotten the word install when typing apt-get. =)

  7. freebsd

    Yes, this should work.

  8. John

    I’ll be installing ‘htop’ when I get home.

    Incidentally, I was impressed that you said ‘really easily’.

    I get nostalgic about the correct (ie, old-fashioned) use of English.

    Let me guess – you’re not ‘uhmerkin’.

  9. benizi

    Thank you, thank you! For me, the reason to try htop (and now, to use it) was that it lets you SCROLL. I always find it frustrating to have 20 identical things at the top of the list sorted by memory, when it’s really 20 threads sharing that large amount of memory (firefox…).

  10. gorkum yuksil

    this is terrific, the standard system monitor in ubu takes up a s^%t load of cpu so this should help a lot- realily easily-ly : )

  11. kpb

    ‘htop’ is much better than ‘top’ in my opinion. I like the ability to kill a process without typing in the process number, and it supports mouse operation

  12. Computer Service and Virus Removal

    Oh man, that’s a sweet little piece of software. Much nicer took at than Top, and more accurate than the standard Ubuntu System Monitor application.

    Karl A. Krogmann

  13. Lenny Gray

    When you guys say:

    Just “apt-get install” of, say, “htop”
    this would presumably work _if_ the sources.list had the right
    repositories listed in it.

    I’ve gotten my new VPS up doing web, email and spam, well enough
    that it works for me, but I have no idea what other repositories
    “should” be in sources.list.

    My sources.list only contains: lines for lucid, lucid-updates, and lucid-security
    what else does everybody assume is available?

  14. Matthew Fedak

    Any plans to right a follow up article on what this should be used for? or basic insight into how it can be used productively?

  15. Henry Giles

    All I did was type in htop in the terminal and instructions followed automatically.

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