How to Display Filesystem Usage in Ubuntu System Tray

If you are a Linux system admin or a pro user whose daily work involves playing with large files, it would be reasonable to assume that you’d have to constantly keep track of the filesystem usage as well.

There are several ways in which you can monitor the file system usage on your Linux machine, such as through the command line or through the file manager that you are using. There are many desktop management tools available as well.

However, sometimes all that’s required is a way that makes sure the information in question always stays in the forefront. In case of Ubuntu, that place is the system tray. If you’ve been looking for a way to display the filesystem usage in the Ubuntu system tray, look no further as in this article we will discuss a couple of ways this can be done.

Note: all the commands, tools, and instructions mentioned in this article have been tested on Ubuntu 16.04.

1. Using SpaceView

There is a small utility, called SpaceView, that does what we’re looking for. To download and install it, run the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vlijm/spaceview
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install spaceview

Once installed successfully you can launch it through Ubuntu Dash.


Here’s SpaceView in action.


Please note that the message “Check your disks!” and the red-colored bar that precedes it indicate that one or more of your drives are almost at their full capacity. In my case it’s my pen drive (/dev/sdb1) that’s 99% full, hence the warning. If I remove the pen drive, the indicator shows up similarly to what the following screen-shot depicts.


There are also many other features the tool provides. For example, you can give memory partitions or an external drive a custom name. To do this, head to the application’s Preferences menu.


Provide an Alias for the device in question. For example, I gave /dev/sdb1 the name MyPenDrive, and it got reflected in the indicator’s drop-down menu (although only after I restarted the application).


As for the other features, you can choose a panel icon color of your choice as well as set the usage threshold where you want the tool throw a warning. There’s also an option to show a notification whenever a new device is detected by the tool. For example, here’s the notification from the tool when I inserted my pen-drive.


2. Using Udisks-Indicator

The second way that we’ll be discussing involves a tool called udisks-indicator. Here’s how you can install it:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:udisks-indicator-team/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install udisks-indicator

Once you are done with the installation part, you can launch the tool by running the following command:


Here’s the utility in action.


As you can see from the screen-shot above, the udisks-indicator app displays more information when compared to the SpaceView tool. However, if you are not interested in having so much information, you can selectively disable the details through the tool’s “Preferences” menu.


Aside from this, udisks-indicator also displays unmounted partitions and lets you access the Disks utility right from its drop-down menu. Like SpaceView, you can give your devices custom names.



What makes both the ways – or tools – worth giving a try is the fact that they offer to-the-point functionality and are lightweight as well. As for which one is better, there’s no definite answer, as it all depends on which one fits your case the best as well as your personal taste. My advice: give both of them a try for some time (won’t take much of an effort) before settling down with one you end up liking.

It’s worth mentioning that both the utilities that we’ve discussed here were created in response to a user’s query on AskUbuntu forums. To access the thread in question, head here.

Himanshu Arora
Himanshu Arora

Himanshu Arora is a freelance technical writer by profession but a software programmer and Linux researcher at heart. He covers software tutorials, reviews, tips/tricks, and more. Some of his articles have been featured on IBM developerworks, ComputerWorld, and in Linux Journal.

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