Uncomfortable managing processes from the Linux command line? System Monitor is here to help.

Linux, like most modern operating systems, is very good at multitasking, which means your system can run multiple processes at the same time. In Linux, a process is an instance of a running program that uses computer resources.

This manual shows you how to manage processes through the GUI with System Monitor. The System Monitor application is primarily intended for Linux systems using the GNOME desktop environment.

List processes in the system monitor

To start the System Monitor application, just press Great (Windows) Key type System monitor in the search field and press Enter. Alternatively, you can start the application from the terminal by running the following command:

gnome-system-monitor

The System Monitor window lists all running processes in alphabetical order.

Note: Most Linux distributions resources is the tab selected by default, so make sure you go to the Processes Tab to view the list of processes.

System Monitor lists all processes and the corresponding user accounts. It also shows details about the system resources that each process is consuming, including CPU usage, RAM usage, and read and write access to the hard drive. You can use this information to determine which processes are affecting your system performance and what actions to take.

On the far right is also the process priority, which determines the system resources allocated to a process compared to other processes.

The process ID uniquely identifies an instance of a program on your system.

By default, only processes that are assigned to your user account are listed. To view processes related to other users on your system, click the hamburger Menu and choose the All processes Radio button.

Manage processes with System Monitor

When a process is consuming too many system resources, there are several actions you can take. System Monitor also lets you kill zombie processes as they slow down your system and affect performance.

When you right-click a process entry, the context menu appears as follows. To perform an action on a process, simply click on the appropriate option from the menu.

The following are some of the most important things you can do with the Performance Monitor program on a process.

  • Stop: When you stop a process on Linux, instruct the operating system to stop that program from running.
  • Continue: Use this option to report a paused or stopped process with the Stop Instructions above.
  • end: To end a process, select the end Option in the context menu. It sends a signal of 15, and the system finishes the process cleanly.
  • Kill: This statement terminates or terminates a process immediately regardless of whether it terminates cleanly. The Kill Instruction sends a signal of 9 to the target process.

Change process priority with system monitor System

Another important aspect in managing processes is adjusting the process priority. The process priority scheme in Linux allows you to determine which processes get more CPU resources or more time.

Most of the processes have the default priority normal (0). On Linux, numbers range from -20 to +19 represent the process priority. The lower the priority number of the process, the more priority it receives in the CPU. For example, a process with a priority of -3 has more CPU time than another process with a priority of 6.

To adjust the process priority, right-click a process in the System Monitor program, then select Change priority. The system then shows you some common process priorities. If you want fine-grained controls, go for that Custom Option and manually assign a priority number using the slider.

Related: How to Change Process Priority in Linux with nice and renice

Alternative ways to manage Linux processes

This guide showed you how to use Linux processes with the gnome-system-monitor Tool, a GUI-based application for managing Linux processes when using the GNOME desktop environment.

If you are working with Linux servers, you may need to list all of the processes running on the system. Since servers do not have a display, command line utilities are the only choice for getting information about the server. Fortunately, you can use command line tools such as to get complete information about processes in Linux above and ps.

How to view process information on a Linux system with the ps command

You want to know what processes are running on your Linux computer. Learn how to use the ps command to find out what is running.

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About the author

Mwiza Kumwenda
(20 articles published)

Mwiza is a professional developer of software and writes extensively on Linux and front-end programming. Some of his interests include history, economics, politics, and enterprise architecture.

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By Mwiza Kumwenda

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