Health Monitoring with lm_sensors
lm_sensors creates files under /proc with sensor values in them. You can create a custom monitoring system by writing scripts that check the values from these files or parse the results of the sensors command.
The source distribution for lm_sensors includes a simple Bourne shell dæmon, healthd.sh, that sends e-mail to the root account if any sensors indicate an alarm state.
A bunch of programs are available that check lm_sensors values or display them in some cool-looking fashion, including applets for KDE and GNOME and several window managers. The resources section has some links to get you started.
I've been running the elaborate GKrellM, a GTK applet designed to make an impressive panel of monitors. The screenshot to the right shows it running on my system, with not only lm_sensors data but also with S.M.A.R.T. hard disk temperature data and the BubbleFishyMon plugin. (BubbleFishyMon represents memory load as the water level, CPU activity as bubbles and network packets as fish swimming back and forth. The rubber duck is just for fun.)
It takes a bit of work to get lm_sensors working on your system, but it's well worth it. You might catch a hardware malfunction early, before it becomes serious. Even if you don't have any problems, it's reassuring to be able to check up on the health of your system quickly.
Steve Hastings first used UNIX on actual paper teletypes. He enjoys bicycling, music, petting his cat and making his Linux computers do new things.
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