The sys admin's daily grind: inxi

Info Tubbies

Article from Issue 206/2018

The name of the tool that columnist Charly Kühnast recommends this month may sound like the Teletubbies, but it is but far from infantile when it comes to functionality. In fact, inxi provides detailed and precisely controllable hardware and system usage information for the host computer.

Every admin knows how to retrieve information about the system on which they are working. How many cores does the CPU have? cat /proc/cpuinfo! Is eth3 a gigabit interface? ip l sh! But instead of many tools, you can just use one: inxi [1].

Suppose I need an overview of a machine with which I don't normally work. Then, I call inxi without any parameters and get some basic information about the hardware (CPU, clock speed, RAM, and disk size) and the system (kernel and shell processes). If I want to see a few details, the -F parameter provides information on the video and audio hardware, partitioning, RAID, temperatures, and fan speeds (Figure 1).

Figure 1: "Extensive" is probably the best description of what inxi bundles into its system overview here.

If I'm only interested in a particular component, I can target this with specific parameters, such as -C, -A, and -G, which stand for information on the CPU, audio, and graphics, respectively. Information on the RAM is returned after a (lowercase!) -m, which takes some getting used to.

Memory Details

Running with root privileges, inxi tells me more about the RAMe: Apparently four 2GB DDR modules are plugged into my test machine and clocked at 1600MHz – yes, this is a fairly ancient beast (Figure 2). The -c4 parameter shown in Figures 1 and 2 is responsible for the color scheme. The default color scheme is not easily legible on terminals with a light background, but thanks to the plethora of options from -c1 to -c32, selectable sets are available to suit your taste.

Figure 2: If you give inxi root privileges, you are rewarded with precise information on the computer's memory banks.

I can even talk inxi into a spot of simple process monitoring. If I want to know which five (this is the default value) processes are currently hogging the most RAM, inxi -t m will help me find out. If I want to see the top 10 processes, I enter -t m10. If I hear the CPU fan humming, on the other hand, I just need to replace the m with a c to view the processor load. You can also combine the two: inxi -t cm 10 returns the top 10 RAM and CPU hogs.

At the end of this informative newscast on the computer, I'll take a quick look at the weather: inxi -w Berlin, Germany tells me what the situation looks like outside the server room.

The Author

Charly K¸hnast manages Unix systems in the data center in the Lower Rhine region of Germany. His responsibilities include ensuring the security and availability of firewalls and the DMZ.

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