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5 best network monitoring tools for Linux

For whatever reason, you need to monitor the network traffic going in and out of your Linux PC. Not sure where to start? Check out our in-depth tutorial about how to monitor bandwidth.

If you’ve gone over our guide that covers monitoring on Linux and still aren’t satisfied, we’ve got you covered! Here are the five best network monitoring tools for Linux for you can try out.

1. VNStat

VNStat is a robust network traffic monitoring program for both Linux and BSD. It can analyze incoming and outgoing traffic on multiple network interfaces and displays the statistics in graph form.

The VNStat program is a favorite by sysadmins in the community, and as a result, it’s set up by default on many popular Linux-like operating systems.

To get your hands on the VNStat app, check out the official website. Alternatively, find a downloadable package on Pkgs.org.

Notable Features:

  • VNStat can monitor the network on your Linux PC without needing to run with a root user.
  • Regardless of how much traffic it monitors, VNStat manages to use minimal resources.
  • The traffic statistics that VNStat logs stay in place, even if your system reboots.
  • With VNStat, traffic statistics can be exported to a PNG image file for record keeping.
  • Users can sort data by days, hours, weeks, and even months, and VNStat can generate a “top 10” that shows your top 10 traffic days.
  • VNStat’s short feature makes reading traffic data easier, by generating a small summary of traffic data it monitors.
  • VNStat monitors multiple network interfaces simultaneously, rather than starting on only one network device at a time.

2. EtherApe

There are many terminal-based network monitoring tools for the Linux platform. The reason for this is that many Linux users are also system administrators, and often manage things over SSH.

If you’re not a huge fan of the terminal, but still want to look at the networking traffic on your Linux computer, install EtherApe.

What is EtherApe? It’s a graphical network browser that shows the user network traffic going in and out of the computer in a real-time browseable graph.

Want to try out EtherApe? Check out the download section of the official website. Also be sure to check out Pkgs.org.

Notable Features:

  • EtherApe displays network traffic graphically, in an easy to understand layout that makes “talkative” nodes more visible.
  • Monitoring several different types of networking devices is possible. Currently, the software supports Ethernet, FDDI, PPP, SLIP, and WLAN networking setups.
  • All monitored traffic data within EtherApe can be exported to XML for record-keeping, sharing, etc.
  • EtherApe can monitor traffic from within the network it is running on, as well as end-to-end IP and port-to-port TCP connections.
  • Clicking a traffic link in the graph will open up a summary of it which shows more detailed information about it.

3. Iftop

Iftop is the network monitoring equivalent to Top. While in use, it can display a live list of network connections, sorted by the amount of bandwidth in use.

The tool tracks packets sent and received over the default networking interface. In addition, thanks to DNS resolution, it can display IP address as domain names attached to the network traffic as well.

If you’re in need of a basic network monitoring tool, Iftop is one of the best out there. It is very light, clocking in at around 200KB, and is quick to install as all modern Linux operating systems distribute it in their official software sources.

Iftop is available on most Linux distributions. Pkgs also has downloads of it for most modern operating systems.

Notable Features:

  • Iftop can be configured to monitor packets that originate from specific network addresses.
  • DNS host resolution makes it very easy to determine where packets are going to (or being received from).
  • Traffic graphs are easy to understand for the average person, and graphs are in real-time.

4. NetHogs

NetHogs is a network traffic monitoring utility for the Linux command-line that takes a radically different approach than many other tools in its category. Rather than looking at how much bandwidth you use as a whole, Nethogs sorts all network activity on your PC based on individual programs.

There are many network monitoring utilities on Linux, that much is clear. However, if you’re looking to figure out what program is “hogging” your bandwidth, NetHogs is one of the best!

To get your hands on NetHogs, check out the official website’s download page, or, check Pkgs.org for a binary package of it.

Notable Features:

  • Nethogs can show downloading and uploading speeds on a per-process basis.
  • Nethogs has support for monitoring over Ethernet, as well as PPP.
  • Nethogs can monitor traffic over multiple networking interfaces.

5. Nload

Nload is a basic network monitoring tool for Linux. It looks at traffic on Linux via the terminal and displays packet transfer rates (for both incoming and outgoing traffic) in separate ASCII graphs.

The program is very user-friendly, despite being a terminal application. The user interface is easy to understand and navigate, making it an excellent choice for average users looking to monitor performance on the network.

The Nload application is available for download via its official website. You’ll also be able to download binary packages of the program here.

Notable Features:

  • It is possible to specify the device that Nload monitors, by using the “devices” command flag. Users can also quickly swap between monitoring interfaces on the fly.
  • In addition to monitoring specific devices, Nload can be set to monitor many different devices simultaneously on a single screen.
  • The traffic graph offers an easy to understand representation of how much data is going in and out of your system.

Conclusion

You don’t have to be a Linux wizard to be curious about networking traffic. Even the average user may want to know the state of the networking equipment they rely on to connect to the internet. We hope that with this list, you’ll be better prepared to check out how your Linux PC is performing on your network.

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