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Mastering the watch Command: How to Keep an Eye on Your Linux System in Real-Time

Linux provides a wealth of tools for monitoring and managing your system, and the watch command is a powerful tool for keeping track of real-time activity. Whether you’re a system administrator, a developer, or a curious user, the watch command can be an invaluable addition to your toolkit.

Here are some key points to remember about the watch command:

  • watch runs a command repeatedly, displaying the output in the terminal.
  • By default, watch runs the command every 2 seconds, but you can specify a different interval with the n option.
  • watch can highlight changes in the output with the -color option.
  • You can use the d option to highlight changes between successive updates.
  • The t option disables the time and date display.

Most people don’t realize that the watch command can be used with any command, not just system utilities. This means you can use watch to monitor the output of any command, including scripts and programs that you write yourself.

Here are 5 examples of how you can use the watch command to increase productivity and efficiency:

Monitor system resources: Use watch to monitor resource usage in real-time, such as CPU and memory usage. For example:

watch -n 1 "top -b -n 1"

Track changes to a file: Use watch to monitor changes to a file, such as a log file or configuration file. For example:

watch -n 1 "tail /var/log/syslog"

Monitor network traffic: Use watch to monitor network traffic, such as incoming and outgoing packets. For example:

watch -n 1 "sudo iftop -n"

Keep an eye on processes: Use watch to monitor the status of processes on your system. For example:

watch -n 1 "ps aux"

Monitor external services: Use watch to monitor the status of external services, such as a remote server or a web service. For example:

watch -n 1 "curl -s -I <http://example.com>"

Now it’s your turn to test your knowledge of the watch command. Try using the watch command to monitor the output of a command that you choose. Can you think of any other creative uses for the watch command? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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