Conky is a system monitor software available under GNU/Linux and FreeBSD. It allows you to display many information about your computer’s resources (CPU or RAM usage, HDD free space, temperatures, battery, network traffic and so on). Below an example of conky running on my computer.
As you can see you can display those information directly onto your desktop. You have the ability to customize each and every part of it: colors, alignments, fonts, borders and of course (as I mentioned before) what information.
The configuration of conky is done in a simple text file which will be located in your personal folder: ~/.conkyrc but first things first, you will have to install it. Most likely your distribution will include a package so the installation will be very easy for you (use apt-get on debian based system, emerge on gentoo, pacman on arch, etc).
# pacman -S conky
Now you can start the configuration of conky from scratch or you can use a default configuration file (provided with the package):
$ vi ~/.conkyrc
$ cp /etc/conky/conky.conf ~/.conkyrc
The configuration is straight forward, you have to use conky’s variables to get the correct information. For instance if you want to display the uptime of your computer you can use the $uptime variable. A list of conky’s variables is available on this wiki.
Once your configuration is done just type the conky command to see if everything is fine.
You also have the ability to launch conky on startup. For instance I am using Fluxbox so if I want to automatically start conky on startup I just add the following line in my ~/.fluxbox/startup file:
conky & #do not forget to launch it in background with &
You can download the .conkyrc file I am currently using right here.