Monitor System

14 Best Free and Open Source Alternatives to the Top Utility

The top utility will need little introduction to seasoned Linux users. top is a small utility that offers a dynamic real-time view of a running system.

It allows users to monitor the processes that are running on a system. top has two main sections, with the first showing general system information such as the amount of time the system has been up, load averages, the number of running and sleeping tasks, as well as information on memory and swap usage.

The second main section displays an ordered list of processes and their process ID number, the user who owns the process, the amount of resources the process is consuming (processor and memory), as well as the running time of that process.

Some versions of top offer extensive customization of the display, such as choice of columns or sorting method.

Command-Line Interfacetop is a very popular utility. It helps with system administration by identifying users and processes that are hogging the system. It is also useful for non-system administrators, helping to track and kill errant processes.

However, top is showing its age and there are a bunch of utilities that offer a more feature-laden alternative. The purpose of this article is to identify alternatives to top that offer more control in managing processes on a running system.

Here’s our rating for the featured open source software.

Ratings chart

Let’s explore the 14 alternatives to top at hand. Click the links in the table below to learn more about each utility.

Process Viewers
btop++Continuation of bashtop and BpyTOP rewritten in C++
htopProvides a full list of processes running
GlancesSystem monitoring tool written in Python
nmonPerformance monitoring tool
BpyTOPPresents the system resources in a logical and well-thought out way
bottomGraphical process/system monitor seeking inspiration from gtop, gotop and htop
gtopSystem monitoring dashboard for the terminal
ConkyAdvanced, highly configurable system monitor for X based on torsmo
atopMonitor for system resources and process activity
ttopSystem monitoring tool with historical snapshots and alerts
gotopSeeks inspiration from gtop and vtop
sysstatSystem performance tools
collectlCollects data that describes the current system status
SaidarDisplays live system statistics
Have we missed any open source alternatives to top? Please let us know!
Alternatives to top?x

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

All the CLI tools in this series.

Alternatives to CLI tools
age // awk // bc // cal // cat // cd // chmod // cksum // cloc // cmp // compress // cp // cron // curl // cut // date // dd // df // diff // dig // du // find // ftp // grep // gzip // hexdump // history // jq // kill // less // locate // ls // lsof // make // man // more // mv / ping // ps // psql // rename // rm // sed // split // ssh // strings // sudo // sysctl // talk // tar // telnet // time // top // touch // traceroute // tree // uname // uniq // uptime // vi // watch // Wget // who // whois // xargs

Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

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1 year ago
Have we missed any open source alternatives to top? Please let us know!" Read more »

I quite like smem. It’s not really a replacement for top as it only reports memory utilization, but worth a mention?

1 year ago

PWatch provides a dynamic real-time view of running processes with historical graphs. The application is akin to well-know utility top. But while top is great for quick system overview, PWatch can be used to watch one or few processes closely.