How to Install and Use GNOME System Monitor and Task Manager in Ubuntu

Just like the Windows Task Manager that you might be using for years, Ubuntu also comes with a built-in processes & resources monitoring utility called the Gnome System Monitor. This Ubuntu task manager allows you to kill, end, stop and resume processes on your Ubuntu. Although most Ubuntu systems have it installed by default, you might have a version that lacks it. In this article, we will explain how to install/uninstall and launch the Ubuntu task manager both through the command line and the Ubuntu GUI. The article also explains some basic functions that you can perform through the System Monitor utility.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Ubuntu 18.04 LTS system.

Install GNOME System Monitor through the Command Line

Open your Ubuntu command line, the Terminal, either through the Dash or by using the Ctrl+Alt+T shortcut. Enter the following command in order to refresh the list of available packages:

$ sudo apt-get update

This command will update your system’s software repository index with that of the Internet so that you can install the latest release of a software.

$ sudo apt-get update

Update Ubuntu Package List

The system will ask you for your password as only an authorized user can add, update, remove and configure software on Ubuntu.

Now enter the following apt-get command in order to install the latest Gnome System Monitor application:

$ sudo apt-get install gnome-system-monitor

Install GNOME System Monitor with apt

The system will prompt you with a Y/n to confirm the beginning of the installation procedure. Enter Y and then hit Enter. This will install the software on your system.

Launch System Monitor from Command Line

You can launch System Monitor by entering the following command in your Terminal:

$ gnome-system-monitor

Start the System Monitor program

This will launch the Ubuntu Task Manager in the UI.

You can quit the application from the Terminal by using Ctrl+C and also quit the Terminal by typing Exit and then hitting Enter.


In order to uninstall System Monitor from your system, enter the following command as sudo:

$ sudo apt-get remove gnome-system-monitor

The system will prompt you with a Y/n option in order to begin the uninstall procedure. Please enter Y and hit Enter to begin. Gnome System Monitor will then be removed from your system.

Uninstall System Monitor

Install System Monitor through the UI

For a person who does not want to open the Command Line much, installing a software present in the Ubuntu repository through the UI is very simple. On your Ubuntu desktop Activities toolbar, click the Ubuntu Software icon.

Start the Ubuntu Software Manager

In the following view, click on the search icon and enter System Monitor or even Task Manager in the search bar. The search results will list the GNOME System Monitor entry as follows:

Search for Task Manager in software list

Click on the GNOME System Monitor entry as it is the official system monitoring application by Canonical. The following dialog will appear:

Install System Minitor

Click the Install button to begin the installation process. The following authentication dialog will display for you to provide your authentication details as only an authorized user can install software on Ubuntu.

Authenticate yourself as admin

Enter your password and click the Authenticate button. After that, the installation process will begin, displaying a progress bar as follows.

Installing System Monitor

System Monitor application will then be installed to your system and you will get the following message after a successful installation:

Launch GNOME System Monitor

Through the above dialog, you can choose to directly launch System Monitor and even Remove it immediately for whatever reason.

Launch System Monitor from the Desktop

You can launch Gnome System Manager through the UI any time you want by searching for system monitor or even task manager in the Ubuntu Dash, or otherwise access it directly from the Applications list.

Launch System Monitor

Uninstall from GUI

Although Gnome System Monitor is a very useful utility, you can uninstall it through the Ubuntu Software manager by first searching for it through the Search button and then clicking the Remove button from the following view:

Uninstall System Monitor

A dialog will ask you if you are sure about removing the software from your system. Please enter the Remove button to uninstall the software. An authentication dialog will display for you to provide the authentication details for a sudo user as only an authorized user can install software on Ubuntu. Enter your password and click the Authenticate button. After that, the uninstall process will begin, removing System Monitor from your system.

Using GNOME System Monitor

We are all familiar with the Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut that we use to bring up Task Manager in Windows and then use it to monitor processes and also kill unwanted ones. In Ubuntu, however, Ctrl+Alt+Del shortcut brings up the logout dialog.

When you have launched the System Dash either through the system Dash or the command line, you will see the following screen:

Show process list

Let us explain this environment a little:

The GNOME System Monitor Environment

The Processes tab

This is the tab that the System Monitor opens in, by default. This tab displays all the processes running on your Linux system. Here you can see the Process name, Process ID, CPU use, memory use, and priority of each process. Based on this information, you can decide what you want to do with the process. The right-click menu that you get for each process helps you in:

  • Viewing its detailed properties
  • Viewing its memory maps
  • Open used files
  • Change priority
  • Stop the Process
  • Continue a stopped process
  • End a process

And most importantly,

  • Kill a Process

Manage processes in System Monitor

The Resources Tab

This tab gives you an analytical view of your system resources such as:

  • CPU History
  • Memory and Swap History
  • Network History

Ressource Usage

This tab is very helpful in monitoring the performance of your system but you can not customize much on this tab other than the color of the graphs.

The File Systems tab

This tab displays information about the hard disk device(s) of your system. You can view the following information about the devices and also sort the listing based on the following:

  • Device Name
  • Directory
  • Type
  • Total Size
  • Available Memory
  • Used Memory

File System usage

By reading this article, we are sure that you will not miss the Windows Task Manager on your Ubuntu system. You can monitor and manage your processes and thus the system resources by the complete package, the Gnome System Monitor.