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Install a Network Activity Indicator in Linux Mint

Created on: 2 September 2021

Install a network activity indicator in Linux Mint. This article shows how to install a network activity indicator, or network monitor, on the task bar of a Linux Mint MATE computer. It should work with most versions of Linux Mint MATE and other Linux distributions using the MATE desktop.

A network activity indicator or network monitor on the bottom task bar of a Linux Mint MATE desktop is shown in the image below.

Network activity indicator in Linux Mint MATE

Install a Network Activity Indicator in Linux Mint (Network Monitor)

Why Install a Network Indicator or Monitor?

A network indicator or monitor shows any network activity on the computer in real-time. This allows all network traffic to be seen visually while working on the computer. It aids in understanding when the network is being used and how much bandwidth is being used. It also allows one to keep an eye on any suspicious network activity.

How to Install a Network Monitor in Linux Mint MATE

The following steps show how to install a network monitor in Linux Mint MATE with screen captures from Linux Mint MATE 19.1.

1. Add a System Monitor to the Panel

Right-click on the bottom task bar or panel of the MATE desktop. Click Add to Panel… on the menu that pops up. This opens up the Add to Panel dialog box as shown in the image below.

Linux Mint MATE System Monitor in Add to Panel Dialog Box

Linux Mint MATE System Monitor in Add to Panel Dialog Box

Scroll down the list of items to find System Monitor and then click it to select it. Click the Add button to add the System Monitor to the task bar. Click Close to close the dialog box.

After following the above steps, the System Monitor appears on the bottom task bar or panel of the Linux Mint MATE desktop. By default the System Monitor shows processor activity. This must be changed in order to show network activity. The System Monitor item should look as follows after adding it to the panel.

System Monitor on Linux Mint MATE Panel

System Monitor on Linux Mint MATE Panel

2. Change the System Monitor to Show Network Activity

Right-click the System Monitor that was added to the bottom panel or task bar of Linux Mint MATE. On the menu that pops up, select Preferences. This opens the System Monitor Preferences dialog box. Click the Network checkbox at the top of the dialog box to select it. Now uncheck the Processor checkbox to deselect it. The System Monitor on the bottom panel or task bar will now display network activity.

After completing the above changes, the top of the System Monitor Preferences dialog box appears as follows.

Top of the System Monitor Preferences Dialog Box After Changing Settings to Network Activity Indicator

Top of the System Monitor Preferences Dialog Box After Changing Settings to Network Activity Indicator

3. Change the Network Monitor Colors

Optionally the colors of the network monitor can be changed in the same dialog box from the previous step. Click Network under the Colors section near the middle of the dialog box. Here the colors for various aspects of the network indicator can be changed. Just click the color box for the desired parameter to change its color.

In the image below the Out item was changed to red and the Local item was changed to green.

Select Network Monitor Colors

Select Network Monitor Colors

View Network Send and Receive Speeds

To see the current send and receive speeds of the network connection, simply hover the mouse cursor over the network activity indicator on the bottom panel. After holding the mouse cursor over the network activity indicator widget, a tool tip pops up showing the network receiving and sending speeds.

Another way to view the current network activity is to click the network indicator widget or applet, that is left-click, to open the System Monitor dialog box. The System Monitor dialog box displays the CPU activity history, memory and swap history, and finally the network history at the bottom of the dialog box.

Editing and Removing the Network Activity Indicator Widget

To change or edit any of the network activity indicator widget parameters, right-click the widget on the bottom panel and then select Preferences on the menu that pops up. Click the Network item under the colors heading to make changes to the colors.

To remove or delete the network indicator widget from the panel, right-click the widget and then click Remove From Panel on the menu that pops up.

Alternate Network Monitor

An alternate network monitor widget can be installed instead of the one already described. The procedure to install this widget is the same as has already been described, but a different item is selected to place on the bottom panel.

To install the Network Monitor, right-click the bottom panel and then click Add to Panel... as previously done. This opens the Add to Panel dialog box again.

In the Add to Panel dialog box, scroll down to find the Network Monitor item, or type Network in the top search box of the dialog box to find this item quickly. Click the Network Monitor item in the dialog box and then click the Add button at the bottom of the dialog box. Click the Close button when done.

The new network monitor widget can be edited and removed in the same way as the first widget was edited and removed – by right-clicking it.

Linux Mint Version

This tutorial was prepared on a Linux Mint 19.1 MATE 64-bit computer and has been updated and extended using a Linux Mint MATE 20.2 64-bit computer. The steps taken have been tested on other version of Linux Mint MATE over the years, so should work on other Linux Mint MATE versions as well as on other Linux distributions that have the MATE desktop.