View Your Linux System Information with Fanbox

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.

Enter Fanbox: a simple HTML5, CSS and Javascript-based dashboard for viewing relevant system information. It aims to be just as good at giving you an easy-to-read system dashboard for your desktop. How exactly do you get it running on Linux? Let’s find out!

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:

sudo apt-get install npm git

After the necessary tools have been installed, it’s time to clone the git repository:

git clone https://github.com/joereynolds/fanbox

Now that we’ve cloned it, enter the directory:

cd fanbox/app

Finally, we can use NodeJS and NPM to install Fanbox:

sudo npm install electron-prebuilt -g
sudo npm install

fanbox-installation

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.

fanbox-light-theme

Open “config.json” in your text editor, and locate the following line:

{
"theme": "simple-laptop.htm",
...
}

fanbox-simple-laptop-theme

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.

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:

#!/bin/bash
cd ~/fanbox/app
electron main.js

fanbox-desktop-entry

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:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Fanbox
Comment=View system information with Fanbox.
Exec=/home/username/fanbox.sh
Terminal=false
Type=Application
Categories=Utility;

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:

sudo chmod +x fanbox.sh
sudo chmod +x Fanbox.desktop

With the files marked as executable, it’s time to “install” our Fanbox.desktop file. This is accomplished by moving it to /usr/share/applications.

sudo mv Fanbox.desktop /usr/share/applications

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!

fanbox-application-shortcut

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.

fanbox-autostart

sudo cp /usr/share/applications/Fanbox.desktop ~/.config/autostart

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.

Though there certainly are other tools on Linux that allow users to display their system information, Fanbox still has the potential to be formidable. Why? The underlying technology, of course. This program is built on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. This means it’ll be easy to help contribute and add on new features.

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!

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