Conky And Friends

Over on Matthew Helmke’s blog there’s a post about Conky, a rather cool system monitoring tool.

Now I’m not usually a fan of such things simply because they have a bad habit of taking up rather too many system resources, and so long as my lil’ laptop is working just fine I don’t really care what’s going on in the background.

Conky though, is different. It’s actually useful.

For a start, it uses minimal CPU and memory itself which means if I use that rather than the oh-so-resource intensive Gnome applets (did I mention I’m back to using Gnome? Well, I am. Familiarity and all that), I’m actually saving memory and power. Which is cool. So, all those applets are gone, except the clock, workspace switcher and battery monitor.

The other advantage is that it does a great job of providing information about my wireless network connection. In fact, it’s every bit as good as, if not better than, a lot of wireless monitoring tools I’ve seen before, which is just darned impressive.

The only downside is that when I’ve got the CPU set to “ondemand” usage (ie, vary the speed of the processor according to need in order to use less power), when Conky is running it rarely drops below 750Mhz. Without Conky running, the CPU speed can drop as low as 188Mhz, which is very cool runnin’ indeed. That’s probably down to Conky polling to CPU just a touch too frequently, and something I can turn in the .conkyrc file a little. No biggie.

Anyhow, here’s my latest screenshot with Conky in place using a minor variation of Matthew’s setup for Ubuntu, and a rendered image of the lovely Professor Tellerman as my wallpaper.

Conky screenshot
Click for bigger image

I’ve also been testing and using Tracker, an indexing and file search tool for Linux much like Beagle or Google Desktop. I guess the Windows equivalent is the all-but-unusable Search for File and Folders option which contains the my single most hated Windows icon out there – that little annoying Torch. Gawd, I hate that thing.

Anyhow. Unlike both Beagle and the Google Desktop, Tracker consumes very little CPU time and disk space. Beagle in particular has a reputation for being a power consuming resource hog, and that’s something that I can testify to; when running on battery power, Beagle is eeeeeeevil. In comparison, Tracker doesn’t seem to have any effect at all. Which is nice.

Put simply, Tracker lets you search for files by searching the content. It indexes your documents pretty much regardless of file format. It handles text files, .pdfs, Open Office docs, Word and Excel files, .html, music, images and the rest. Contacts, emails, bookmarks and a whoel raft of other content types are in the “Todo and coming soon” pile, which is great. I’d love to be able to search my Opera mail and rss feeds within tracker. We’ll see.

As I understand it, Tracker is going to be intergrated into the Nautiuls file browser with the new release of GNOME, so it’ll be the default file search tool of choice in the near future.

Which is great news :)

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