How to install and configure Conky on Linux

Conky is a light-weight system monitoring tool combined with a fully-customized desktop theme, which can completely change your Linux desktop experience. Using Conky, you will get a fully personalized desktop theme, populated with an eye-catching smart clock, current date and time, as well as the current status of your Linux system such as used/free HDD space, RAM and CPU utilization. Conky interface can also keep you updated with up/down time of the system and uploaded/downloaded data traffic. The point is, Conky is fully configurable and scriptable, being able to collect and display almost any type of information directly on an X window.

Conky works pretty much the same way on different Linux distros. This tutorial will guide you to install and configure Conky on Linux. While Conky was tested on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS in this tutorial, you can configure Conky on other distros using the same instructions.

Let's assume that your Linux system is connected to the Internet.

Install Conky on Linux

To install Conky, type the following command in the command line.

To install Conky on Debian, Ubuntu or Linux Mint:

$ sudo apt-get install conky-all

To install Conky on Fedora:

$ sudo yum install conky

To install Conky on CentOS or RHEL, first enable EPEL repository, and then run:

$ sudo yum install conky

Configure Conky on Linux

Conky's configuration is defined with the Lua programming language. Download example Conky Lua configuration files which will be used in this tutorial.

The Conky Lua will be downloaded as a compressed archive, named as '139024-Conky-lua1.tar.gz'. Extract files from the compressed tarball.

$ tar xvfvz 139024-Conky-lua1.tar.gz
$ cd Conky-lua

You will find several compressed folders inside the uncompressed archive, each containing Conky configuration files for different Linux distros. Currently it contains Conky config files for Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, and openSUSE.

In this tutorial, we will configure Conky on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. Hence, we extract a folder called 'Conky ubuntu-lua.tar.gz'.

$ tar xvfvz Conky\ ubuntu-lua.tar.gz
$ cd Conky\ ubuntu-lua

In the extracted content, you will find three files, namely: 'clock_rings.lua', 'conkyrc' and 'new-ubuntu-logo.png'.

Now, rename the file 'conkyrc' to '.conkyrc', and copy it to your home directory.

$ mv conkyrc .conkyrc
$ cp .conkyrc ~

Next, create a new folder named '.conky' in your home directory, and copy the other two files ('clock_rings.lua' and 'new-ubuntu-logo.png') to ~/.conky folder.

$ mkdir ~/.conky
$ cp clock_rings.lua new-ubuntu-logo.png ~/.conky

Now you need to edit the '.conkyrc' file that you put in your home directory.

In ~/.conkyrc, find the line: 'lua_load /~.lua/scripts/clock_rings.lua' and change '/~.lua/scripts/clock_rings.lua' to '~/.conky/clock_rings.lua'.

$ vi ~/.conkyrc
# Lua Load  #
lua_load ~/.conky/clock_rings.lua
lua_draw_hook_pre clock_rings

After editing ~/.conkyrc, you are ready to launch Conky.

Go to the terminal and type the following command to launch Conky as a daemon.

$ conky -d

Now you are done with the installation and configuration of Conky. If you follow everything accordingly, then you must have a transparent desktop utility theme like this one:

If you want to stop Conky, just go to the terminal and type the following.

$ killall conky

Once you verify that Conky works correctly, you can set up Conky so that it auto-starts when you log in to your desktop.


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M Rafiqul Islam

M Rafiqul Islam is a computer engineer who is now working as the CEO of his own software development firm, ‘Radius ICT’. He is also working as a professional freelance content developer at different online freelance marketplaces as well.

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5 thoughts on “How to install and configure Conky on Linux

  1. This tutorial is not working for Ubuntu 12.10. I get this error message when executing 'conky -d':
    Conky: llua_do_call: function conky_clock_rings execution failed: attempt to call a nil value

    • In ~/.conky/clock_rings.lua, look for the function conky_clock_rings().
      Then, try adding the following code after 'value=tonumber(str)'

      if not value then
          value=0
      end
      

      Hope this helps.

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