Ubuntu and its flavors have various task manager-like utilities for monitoring and managing system resources. For instance, standard Ubuntu installations have the GNOME System Monitor.

Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, and MATE use KSysGuard, Task Manager, LXTask, and MATE System Monitor respectively. And these are just the default GUI variants.

There are excellent command-line alternatives like htop, or additional system monitors that you can install yourself.

Using the System Monitor

We’ll focus on the GNOME System Monitor here as that’s the most popular variant. But most of the points will apply to the other versions as well.

Launch and View Stats

You can search ‘system monitor’, or enter gnome-system-monitor in the terminal to launch the System Monitor. You’ll find that it has three tabs; Processes, Resources, and File Systems.

The Processes tab lists all running processes along with their PID and resource usage.

The Resources tab provides more specific info on the CPU, memory, and network status in a graphical format.

The File Systems tab lists the mounted filesystems along with their type and used storage.

Kill a Process

The latter two tabs are useful for viewing system usage stats before taking the next step. For instance, you may find that your disks are almost full. You’ll likely want to get a more detailed look at what’s occupying all the space.

The first tab is useful for immediate action. If a certain process or group of processes is consuming a large amount of resources, you can simply select the process and press End Process.

This’ll send a terminate signal (SIGTERM) to the process, allowing it to shut down gracefully. This is the ideal way to end a process as it minimizes any chances of data loss. 

In case you want to send a different signal like Stop (pause) or Kill (abrupt end), you can right-click the process and select the desired option.

Set Keyboard Shortcut for System Monitor

If you’re coming over from Windows, you might be used to pressing Ctrl + Shift + Esc or Ctrl + Alt + Del to launch the Task Manager. On Ubuntu, the first shortcut does nothing while the second initiates a logout sequence by default.

You’ll need to set a custom shortcut to launch the System Monitor. We’ll use Ctrl + Alt + Del for now, but you can set it to whatever you prefer. 

  1. Search ‘shortcuts’ and open the Keyboard Settings page. Click on View and Customize Shortcuts from the bottom.
    view and customize shortcuts
  2. Open the System section and assign a new shortcut for the Log Out function.
    log out shortcut ubuntu
  3. Now, switch back and open Custom Shortcuts.
    ubuntu custom shortcuts
  4. Click on Add (+), update the fields, and press Add again.
    add custom shortcut ubuntu

Alternatives to System Monitor

If you want GUI-based alternatives to Ubuntu’s default system monitor, we recommend trying out SysMonTask. Its UI is very similar to Windows’ Task Manager.

If you’re fine with CLI options as well, definitely try out htop. It’s an easy-to-use but highly capable process manager that lets you search, filter, sort, and kill processes among other things.

sudo apt install htop
Anup Thapa

Senior Writer

Anup Thapa is a Linux enthusiast with an extensive background in computer hardware and networking. His goal is to effectively communicate technical concepts in a simplified form understandable by new Linux users. To this end, he mainly writes beginner-friendly tutorials and troubleshooting guides. Outside of work, he enjoys reading up on a range of topics, traveling, working out, and MOBAs.