Configuring Conky The (Very) Easy Way

Conky, the amazingly versatile and useful Linux desktop application, has a bit of a reputation. It’s clearly a great app, but getting it configured can be a serious pain. Changing anything about it has always required digging through a long text file and editing cryptic lines like ${offset 240}${time %a, } ${color }${time %e %B %G}. As many people don’t have the patience to dig through manuals to find out what all that means, Conky’s popularity has been somewhat limited. Lucky for us, there’s now an easier way to configure it. A MUCH easier way – ConkyWizard.

This is a new project, and not yet available in the repositories of your average distribution. There are binaries available (no packaging or installation needed) for 32 and 64 bit Linux on the project’s Google Code page (the page is in Spanish). This author had trouble getting the 64 bit version to work properly, and would recommend the 32 bit version for both platforms.

Once you download the tarball for your architecture, extract it into the location of your choice. This can often be done by right-clicking the file from a file manager, or from the terminal with

tar -zxvf ConWizard_32bits_V1.0_Beta1
#or whatever your filename may be

It will extract an individual file, which can be run to launch ConkyWizard.

After the initial Welcome screen, your first options will be to choose where on your desktop you’d like Conky to reside. If you use a panel or dock that does not expand to fill the entire edge of the screen, you can set Conky to the same side and you may be able to place certain items in the always-visible space left by the dock.

conkywizard-layout1

The next screen is slightly more complicated. Here you can set more specific placement options for the Conky window. As demonstrated by the visual aid in the wizard, you are given multiple options for margins. You can set these to ensure that the Conky screen does not end up behind your panel or dock. This was one area where I found ConkyWizard particularly impressive, as it correctly detected my settings and guessed appropriate margins to set for my desktop, even though I have the dock in a very non-standard right-side 64 pixel configuration on a 1440×900 widescreen desktop.

conkywizard-layout2

Adding and removing widgets from Conky has been improved dramatically with the Conky Wizard. Instead of searching online or through documentation to find out the names of all the possible widgets and the options for enabling them, you can simply select or deselect whichever ones you’d like.

conkywizard-addwidgets

If you like, you can add your own widgets based on the existing ones. For example, the screenshot above shows a CPU monitor widget. If you’ve got more than one CPU, you can use the Edit Widget button to copy the settings from one and paste them into another (altered as needed).

conkywizard-editwidget

Once you’re finished customizing the order and layout of your widgets, you can finish the wizard. When started, Conky should now have a configuration matching what you entered into your options. There are occasionally some issues with proper alignment, but for the most part ConkyWizard creates a beautiful and functional Conky config quickly and easily, and that’s pretty impressive.