Science and technology

Monitoring Linux and Windows hosts with Glances

Sysadmins have many instruments to view and handle operating processes. For me, these primarily was prime, atop, and htop. A couple of years in the past, I discovered Glances, a device that shows data that none of my different favorites do. All of those instruments monitor CPU and reminiscence utilization, and most of them record details about operating processes (on the very least). However, Glances additionally screens filesystem I/O, community I/O, and sensor readouts that may show CPU and different hardware temperatures in addition to fan speeds and disk utilization by hardware machine and logical quantity.


I discussed Glances in my article 4 open source tools for Linux system monitoring, however I’ll delve into it extra deeply on this article. If you learn my earlier article, a few of this data could also be acquainted, however you also needs to discover some new issues right here.

Glances is cross-platform as a result of it’s written in Python. It might be put in on Windows and different hosts with present variations of Python put in. Most Linux distributions (Fedora in my case) have Glances of their repositories. If not, or in case you are utilizing a unique working system (reminiscent of Windows), otherwise you simply wish to get it proper from the supply, you will discover directions for downloading and putting in it in Glances’ GitHub repo.

I counsel operating Glances on a take a look at machine whilst you attempt the instructions on this article. If you do not have a bodily host obtainable for testing, you may discover Glances on a digital machine (VM), however you will not see the hardware sensors part; in spite of everything, a VM has no actual hardware.

To begin Glances on a Linux host, open a terminal session and enter the command glances.

Glances has three principal sections—Summary, Process, and Alerts—in addition to a sidebar. I am going to discover them and different particulars for utilizing Glances now.

Summary part

In its prime few strains, Glances’ Summary part comprises a lot of the identical data as you will discover in different screens’ abstract sections. If you may have sufficient horizontal house in your terminal, Glances can present CPU utilization with each a bar graph and a numeric indicator; in any other case it is going to present solely the quantity.

I like Glances’ Summary part higher than those in different screens (like prime); I believe it gives the best data in an simply comprehensible format.

The Summary part above gives an outline of the system’s standing. The first line reveals the hostname, the Linux distribution, the kernel model, and the system uptime.

The subsequent 4 strains show CPU, reminiscence utilization, swap, and cargo statistics. The left column shows the chances of CPU, reminiscence, and swap house which can be in use. It additionally reveals the mixed statistics for all CPUs current within the system.

Press the 1 key to toggle between the consolidated CPU utilization show and the show of the person CPUs. The following picture reveals the Glances show with particular person CPU statistics.

This view consists of some further CPU statistics. In both show mode, the descriptions of the CPU utilization fields may also help you interpret the info displayed within the CPU part. Notice that CPUs are numbered beginning at zero (Zero).

CPU This is the present CPU utilization as a proportion of the entire obtainable.
consumer These are the purposes and different applications operating in consumer house, i.e., not within the kernel.
system These are kernel-level features. It doesn’t embody CPU time taken by the kernel itself, simply the kernel system calls.
idle This is the idle time, i.e., time not utilized by any operating course of.
good This is the time utilized by processes which can be operating at a constructive, good stage.
irq These are the interrupt requests that take CPU time.
iowait These are CPU cycles which can be spent ready for I/O to happen—that is wasted CPU time.
steal The proportion of CPU cycles digital CPU waits for an actual CPU whereas the hypervisor is servicing one other digital processor.
ctx-sw These are the variety of context switches per second; it represents the variety of occasions per second that the CPU switches from operating one course of to a different.
inter This is the variety of hardware interrupts per second. A hardware interrupt happens when a hardware machine, reminiscent of a tough drive, tells a CPU that it has accomplished a knowledge switch or community interface card is able to settle for extra information.
sw_int Software interrupts inform the CPU that some requested activity has accomplished or that the software program is prepared for one thing. These are usually extra frequent in kernel-level software program.

About good numbers

Nice numbers are the mechanism utilized by directors to have an effect on the precedence of a course of. It isn’t attainable to vary the precedence of a course of instantly, however altering the good quantity can modify the outcomes of the kernel scheduler’s precedence setting algorithm. Nice numbers run from -20 to +19 the place larger numbers are nicer. The default good quantity is zero and the default precedence is 20. Setting the good quantity larger than zero will increase the precedence quantity considerably, thus making the method nicer and due to this fact much less grasping of CPU cycles. Setting the good quantity to a extra damaging quantity leads to a decrease precedence quantity making the method much less good. Nice numbers might be modified utilizing the renice command or from inside prime, atop, and htop.


The Memory portion of the Summary part comprises statistics about reminiscence utilization.

MEM This reveals the reminiscence utilization as a p.c of the entire quantity obtainable.
complete This is the entire quantity of RAM reminiscence put in within the host, much less any quantity assigned to the show adapter.
used This is the entire quantity of reminiscence in use by the system and software applications however not together with cache or buffers.
free This is the quantity of free reminiscence.
lively This is the quantity of actively used reminiscence—inactive reminiscence is topic to swapping to disk ought to the necessity come up.
inactive This is reminiscence that’s in use however that has not been accessed for a while.
buffers This is reminiscence that’s used for buffer house; it’s normally utilized by communications and I/O reminiscent of networking. The information is acquired and saved till the software program can retrieve it to be used or it may be despatched to a storage machine or transmitted out to the community.
cached This is the reminiscence used to retailer information for disk switch till it may be utilized by a program or saved to disk.

The Swap part is self-explanatory in the event you perceive a bit about swap house and the way it works. This reveals how a lot complete swap house is on the market, how a lot is used, and the way a lot is left.

The Load a part of the Summary part shows the one-, five-, and 15-minute load averages.

You can use the numeric keys 1, three, four, and 5 to change your view of the info on this part. The 2 key toggles the left sidebar on and off.

More about load averages

Load averages are generally misunderstood, regardless that they’re a key criterion for measuring CPU utilization. But what does it actually imply after I say that the one- (or five- or 10-) minute load common is four.04, for instance? Load common might be thought-about a measure of demand for the CPU; it’s a quantity that represents the typical variety of directions ready for CPU time, so it’s a true measure of CPU efficiency.

For instance, a completely utilized single-processor system CPU would have a load common of 1. This signifies that the CPU is maintaining precisely with demand; in different phrases, it has good utilization. A load common of lower than 1 means the CPU is underutilized, and a load common larger than 1 means the CPU is overutilized and that there’s pent-up, unhappy demand. For instance, a load common of 1.5 in a single-CPU system signifies that one-third of the CPU directions should wait to be executed till the previous one has accomplished.

This can also be true for a number of processors. If a four-CPU system has a load common of four, then it has good utilization. If it has a load common of three.24, for instance, then three of its processors are absolutely utilized, and one is utilized at about 24%. In the instance above, a four-CPU system has a one-minute load common of four.04, which means there is no such thing as a remaining capability among the many 4 CPUs, and some directions are compelled to attend. A superbly utilized four-CPU system would present a load common of four.00, which means that the system is absolutely loaded however not overloaded.

The optimum load common situation is for the load common to equal the entire variety of CPUs in a system. That would imply that each CPU is absolutely utilized, and no instruction should be compelled to attend. But actuality is messy, and optimum situations are seldom met. If a bunch have been operating at 100% utilization, this is able to not enable for spikes in CPU load necessities.

The longer-term load averages point out general utilization developments.

Linux Journal revealed a superb article about load averages, the speculation, the maths behind them, and easy methods to interpret them, in its December 1, 2006, difficulty. Unfortunately, Linux Journal has ceased publication, and its archives are not obtainable instantly, so the hyperlink is to a third-party archive.

Finding CPU hogs

One of the explanations for utilizing a device like Glances is to search out processes which can be taking on an excessive amount of CPU time. Open a brand new terminal session (completely different from the one operating Glances), and enter and begin the next CPU-hogging Bash program.

X=zero;whereas [ 1 ];do echo $X;X=$((X+1));accomplished

This program is a CPU hog and can deplete each obtainable CPU cycle. Allow it to run whilst you end this text and experiment with Glances. It will give you an thought of what a program that hogs CPU cycles appears to be like like. Be certain to watch the consequences on the load averages over time, in addition to the cumulative time within the TIME+ column for this course of.

Process part

The Process part shows commonplace details about every course of that’s operating. Depending upon the viewing mode and the scale of the terminal display, completely different columns of data might be displayed for the operating processes. The default mode with a wide-enough terminal shows the columns listed under. The columns which can be displayed change mechanically if the terminal display is resized. The following columns are usually displayed for every course of from left to proper.

CPU% This is the quantity of CPU time as a proportion of a single core. For instance, 98% represents 98% of the obtainable CPU cycles for a single core. Multiple processes can present as much as 100% CPU utilization.
MEM% This is the quantity of RAM reminiscence utilized by the method as a proportion of the entire digital reminiscence within the host.
VIRT This is the quantity of digital reminiscence utilized by the method in human-readable format, reminiscent of 12M for 12 megabytes.
RES This refers back to the quantity of bodily (resident) reminiscence utilized by the method. Again, that is in human-readable format, with an indicator of Okay, M, or G, to specify kilobytes, megabytes, or gigabytes.
PID Every course of has an identification quantity, known as the PID. This quantity can be utilized in instructions, reminiscent of renice and kill, to handle the method. Remember that the kill utility can ship indicators to a different course of moreover the “kill” sign.
USER This is the identify of the consumer that owns the method.
TIME+ This signifies the cumulative quantity of CPU time accrued by the method because it began.
THR This is the entire variety of threads at the moment operating for this course of.
NI This is the good variety of the method.
S This is the present standing; it may be (R)unning, (S)leeping, (I)dle, T or t when the method is stopped throughout a debugging hint, or (Z)ombie. A zombie is a course of that has been killed however has not fully died, so it continues to eat some system assets, reminiscent of RAM.
R/s and W/s These are the disk reads and writes per second.
Command This is the command used to start out the method.

Glances normally determines the default type column mechanically. Processes might be sorted mechanically (a), or by CPU (c), reminiscence (m), identify (p), consumer (u), I/O price (i), or time (t). Processes are mechanically sorted by the most-used useful resource. In the photographs above, the TIME+ column is highlighted.

Alerts part

Glances additionally reveals warnings and demanding alerts, together with the time and length of the occasion, on the backside of the display. This might be useful once you’re trying to diagnose issues and can’t stare on the display for hours at a time. These alert logs might be toggled on or off with the l (lower-case L) key, warnings might be cleared with the w key, whereas alerts and warnings can all be cleared with x.

Glances has a really good sidebar on the left that shows data that isn’t obtainable in prime or htop. While atop shows a few of this information, Glances is the one monitor that shows information about sensors. After all, generally it’s good to see the temperatures inside your laptop.

The particular person modules, disk, filesystem, community, and sensors might be toggled on and off utilizing the d, f, n, and s keys, respectively. The total sidebar might be toggled utilizing 2. Docker stats might be displayed within the sidebar with D.

Note that hardware sensors usually are not displayed when Glances is operating on a digital machine.

Getting assist

You can get assist by urgent the h key; dismiss the assistance web page by urgent h once more. The Help web page is reasonably terse, however it does present the obtainable interactive choices and easy methods to flip them on and off. The man page has terse explanations of the choices that can be utilized when launching Glances.

You can press q or Esc to exit Glances.


Glances doesn’t require a configuration file to work correctly. If you select to have one, the system-wide occasion of the configuration file might be positioned in /and so on/glances/glances.conf. Individual customers can have an area occasion at ~/.config/glances/glances.conf, which is able to override the worldwide configuration. The main function of those configuration information is to set thresholds for warnings and demanding alerts. You may specify whether or not sure modules are displayed by default or not.

The file /usr/native/share/doc/glances/README.rst comprises further helpful data, together with non-obligatory Python modules you may set up to assist some non-obligatory Glances options.

Command-line choices

Glances gives command-line choices that enable it to start out up in particular viewing modes. For instance, the command glances -2 begins this system with the left sidebar disabled.

Remote and extra

By beginning it in server mode, you need to use Glances to observe distant hosts:

[root@testvm1 ~]# glances -s

You can then connect with the server from the consumer with:

[root@testvm2 ~]# glances -c @testvm1

Glances can present an inventory of Glances servers together with a abstract of their exercise. It additionally has an internet interface so you may monitor distant Glances servers from a browser. Recent variations of Glances may show Docker statistics.

There are additionally pluggable modules for Glances that present measurement information not obtainable within the base program.


Although Glances can monitor many points of a bunch, it can not handle processes. It can not change the good variety of a course of nor kill one, as prime and htop can. Glances isn’t an interactive device. It is used strictly for monitoring. External instruments like kill and renice can be utilized to handle processes.

Glances can solely present the processes which can be taking nearly all of the useful resource specified, reminiscent of CPU time, within the obtainable house. If there may be room to record simply 10 processes, that’s all it is possible for you to to see. Glances doesn’t present scrolling or reverse-sort choices that may allow you to see another than the highest X processes.

The affect of measurement

The observer effect is a physics principle that states, “simply observing a situation or phenomenon necessarily changes that phenomenon.” This can also be true when measuring Linux system efficiency.

Merely utilizing a monitoring device alters the system’s use of assets, together with reminiscence and CPU time. The prime utility and most different screens use maybe 2% tor three% of a system’s CPU time. The Glances utility has far more affect than the others; it normally makes use of between 10% and 20% of CPU time, and I’ve seen it use as a lot as 40% of 1 CPU in a really massive and lively system with 32 CPUs. That is quite a bit, so think about its affect when you concentrate on utilizing Glances as your monitor.

My private opinion is that this can be a small value to pay once you want the capabilities of Glances.


Despite its lack of interactive capabilities, reminiscent of the flexibility to renice or kill processes, and its excessive CPU load, I discover Glances to be a really great tool. The full Glances documentation is on the market on the web, and the Glances man web page has startup choices and interactive command data.

Parts of this text are primarily based on David Both’s new e-book, Using and Administering Linux: Volume 2 – Zero to SysAdmin: Advanced Topics.

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