Desktop system viewers aren’t a new thing on Linux. With tools like Conky and Bginfo4X, it’s safe to say that displaying system information, uptime, RAM usage, CPU usage, etc., right on the user’s desktop has been something everyone has tried at one point on Linux.
Fanbox is easy to install. All that’s needed are the tools used to build it. Open a terminal and enter the following commands.
First, git and NodeJS will need to be installed:
After the necessary tools have been installed, it’s time to clone the git repository:
Now that we’ve cloned it, enter the directory:
Finally, we can use NodeJS and NPM to install Fanbox:
If you’re using a different Linux distribution, the only difference in the instructions are installing “git” and “npm.” Replace them with whatever package manager your Linux distribution uses.
Fanbox comes with a few themes. To change themes open up the fanbox folder you downloaded (It should be located in your home directory.), and then open the app folder. Inside this folder you’ll notice “config.json.” This is the configuration file and can be easily modified to change the Fanbox theme.
Open “config.json” in your text editor, and locate the following line:
Change “simple-laptop.htm” with any of the following: “light.htm,” “pepper.htm,” “shonky.htm,” or “simple.htm,” and then save the file. If you’re feeling brave, it’s also possible to change the other references to themes in this file as well, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
How to run outside of the terminal
Fanbox is cool, but when you download and build it, you’re only really able to run it if you enter the directory downloaded with git and then execute a command. It’s hardly practical. This is why we’re going to learn how to turn it into a regular application. First, open a text editor and create a file. Paste the following into it:
After you’ve pasted the commands above, save the file in your home folder as “fanbox.sh.” Once the shell script has been created, it’s time to make a Desktop entry file. Using your text editor, create another blank file and paste the following:
Note: you’ll need to replace username with whatever username you have on your Linux install.
Once pasted, save the file as “Fanbox.desktop,” and put it in your home folder for the time being.
Now it’s time to mark both our script and our desktop file as executable. If we don’t, nothing will work. In the terminal enter these commands:
With the files marked as executable, it’s time to “install” our Fanbox.desktop file. This is accomplished by moving it to
When this command is finishes, you’ll need to log out of your desktop and back in. When you get back in, just check your desktop environment’s application menu, find Fanbox and launch it!
Setting Fanbox to start when you log in
A system monitoring tool is useless if its not always running, right? Now that we’ve broken Fanbox away from the terminal and into our applications, we can create an entry for it to automatically run at startup. Here’s a quick, universal way to get it done.
What this does is copy the Desktop entry we created and place it in the autostart folder, a universal folder located in the config directory. It’s responsible for launching applications automatically, if they’re in autostart. It doesn’t matter what desktop environment you’re using, if the file is in here, it’ll start by itself.
No need to learn C++ to add a feature to Fanbox. When this program exits the early days, I could easily see many Linux users flocking over to this tool for all of their desktop-system information needs.
Linux users: would you switch from what you current use for displaying system information to Fanbox? Tell us why or why not below!