How to install and use vtop graphical terminal activity monitor on Linux

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The vtop is a graphical activity monitor for the command line written in Node.js. How do I install vtop on my Linux server?

Command-line tools like “top” make it difficult to see CPU usage across multi-process applications (like Apache and Chrome), spikes over time, and memory usage. That’s why we created vtop. Vtop is a free and open source activity monitor for the command line. It is written in node.js and can be easily extended. This page explains how to install and use vtop graphical terminal activity monitor on Linux.

Tutorial requirements
Operating system/appLinux distro with nodejs
Root privileges requiredYes
DifficultyEasy (rss)
Estimated completion time5m
Table of contents


How to install and use vtop on Ubuntu Linux

For demo purposes I am going to use Ubuntu or Debian Linux. First install Node.js if not installed on your system using the apt command:
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade
$ sudo apt install nodejs

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
  libdns-export1107 libicu65 libisc-export1104
Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove them.
The following additional packages will be installed:
  libc-ares2 libnode64 libuv1 nodejs-doc
Suggested packages:
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  libc-ares2 libnode64 libuv1 nodejs nodejs-doc
0 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 6887 kB of archives.
After this operation, 30.9 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue? [Y/n] y
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Get:2 focal/main amd64 libc-ares2 amd64 1.15.0-1build1 [37.8 kB]
Get:3 focal/universe amd64 libnode64 amd64 10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1 [5765 kB]
Get:4 focal/universe amd64 nodejs-doc all 10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1 [942 kB]
Get:5 focal/universe amd64 nodejs amd64 10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1 [61.1 kB]
Fetched 6887 kB in 4s (1682 kB/s) 
Selecting previously unselected package libuv1:amd64.
(Reading database ... 20584 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../libuv1_1.34.2-1ubuntu1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking libuv1:amd64 (1.34.2-1ubuntu1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package libc-ares2:amd64.
Preparing to unpack .../libc-ares2_1.15.0-1build1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking libc-ares2:amd64 (1.15.0-1build1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package libnode64:amd64.
Preparing to unpack .../libnode64_10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking libnode64:amd64 (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
Selecting previously unselected package nodejs-doc.
Preparing to unpack .../nodejs-doc_10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1_all.deb ...
Unpacking nodejs-doc (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
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Preparing to unpack .../nodejs_10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1_amd64.deb ...
Unpacking nodejs (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
Setting up libc-ares2:amd64 (1.15.0-1build1) ...
Setting up libuv1:amd64 (1.34.2-1ubuntu1) ...
Setting up libnode64:amd64 (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
Setting up nodejs-doc (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
Setting up nodejs (10.19.0~dfsg-3ubuntu1) ...
update-alternatives: using /usr/bin/nodejs to provide /usr/bin/js (js) in auto mode
Processing triggers for libc-bin (2.31-0ubuntu9) ...

vtop – A Linux process and memory activity monitoring tool

Once nodejs installed on Linux, we can type the following command to install vtop:
$ sudo npm install -g vtop
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: Installing vtop
Fig.01: Installing vtop

How do I use vtop command?

Open the terminal app and then type the vtop command:
$ vtop
Sample outputs:

Fig.01: vtop in action
Fig.01: vtop in action

You can setup the vtop theme:
$ vtop -t wizard
Possible theme options: acid, becca, brew, dark, monokai, parallax, seti and wizard:
$ vtop -t parallax
Sample outputs:
Gif 01: vtop in action
Gif 01: vtop in action

Keyboard shortcuts

  • Press u to update to the latest version of vtop.
  • Arrow up or kto move up the process list.
  • Arrow down or j to move down.
  • Press g to go to the top of the process list.
  • Press G to move to the end of the list.
  • Hit dd to kill all the processes in that group.

How to change theme color

Run the following command:
vtop --theme wizard
vtop -t wizard
Possible values for theme are acid, becca, brew, certs, dark, gooey, gruvbox, monokai, nord, parallax, seti and wizard. I can see all using a bash for loop as follows:

for i in $in
  vtop -t $i

Even though vtop is pretty fancy. I recommend htop tool or atop utility or top command only for server usage.


We shown how to install and use vtop on Linux. See the following resources for more information:


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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Historical Comment Archive

2 comment

  1. Interestingly, it doesn’t show the proper CPU usage in the process list window. It shows the proper usage in the graph, but I have a VMWare VM currently doing a process that’s eating up (according to htop) 376% CPU (4 virtual CPUs, 400% is all 4 pegged). vtop shows in the graph that we’re nearly pegged, but the process list just has vmware listed once, taking up a mere 9.1% of the CPU.

    vtop is neat, but for accuracy on my particular system, I’ll stick to top and htop.

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