KSysGuard: What are your requirements from a system monitor?

The KDE system monitor needs an update. In the first step we like to ask you to join the brainstorming about requirements. What do you want integrated into KSysGuard?

KSysGuard has been attributed as visually outdated and suboptimal in respect to its functionality. The competitors do have beautiful layouts that makes it easy to grasp the system state at a glance.

Task manager

Activity Monitor by Apple, Task Manager by Microsoft, and KSysGuard by KDE.

From the usability point of view, there is no common layout or workflow. While Microsoft has a similar approach as KDE with different, tabbed views to the information (one process table with CPU, RAM etc.), Apple provides with the Activity Monitor a layout with tabs for the data sources but shows the history on every page. And command line tools like top merge it all together.

Microsoft published a nice blog post about the development of their task manager. Based on telemetry data Steven Sinofsy argues that applications and processes are more important than other information like networking. However, if the user cannot be deal with the shown information due to inappropriate visualization or missing functionality the feature will receive less interest.

So before we redesign KSysGuard we would like to start with a qualitative survey on the requirements.

Requirements

Some of the needs are defined straightforward by the tool itself:

  • Browse through the list of processes in order to ‘get an impression what’s going on’
  • Get all related information for a certain process (CPU, GPU, RAM, I/O, Power etc.)
  • Monitor system parameter (history graph)
  • Send a signal to selected processes (in particular SIGKILL)

Some other information could be included into the tool to extend the usage:

  • Means to manage process priority
  • Show open files for the process
  • Provide debug functionality like Microsoft’s process monitor
  • Detect conspicuous behavior and warn user (e.g. abnormal activity, swapping ahead)
  • Benchmark the system to find bottlenecks
  • Include hardware information

And we need to take non-functional aspects into account as well.

  • Take large scale CPU systems into consideration (64+ CPUs)
  • Provide configurability like Conky
  • Make it simple by default but powerful on demand

Participate

That’s what we have in mind about requirements. And now we ask you to brainstorm. Please discuss opinions what belongs to the task manager, activity monitor, or sysguard tool. Our next step will be the categorization and prioritization of your input. So let’s the the thoughts fly free!

PS: Thanks for all comments! The conclusion can be found in the follow-up posting KSysGuard: The Green Paper.