“Speedometer” is a command-line based (pretty darn easy to use though!) utility that has the ability to monitor the current download/upload speeds of the network connections plus, the speeds of the file systems (while copying something). Although it’s not a network benchmarking tool (can be used as a file system benchmarking utility!) in a way, you can use it as such a tool as well (more below).
However, Ubuntu comes with a system monitor that shows you the current network speeds and while copying a file, Nautilus shows you the speeds too. But “speedometer” is a graph based tool that prints the peak speed values on top of graphs (as shown below), so you can get a better idea about the speeds as both “system monitor” and Nautilus don’t have those features.
Then again, system monitor shows speeds in graphs too, however, it does not print peak values on top of graphs, which is pretty useful otherwise.
Main features …
*. As you can see, although it’s a command-line based tool, yet it has pretty vivid colors and other stuff that makes it a pretty user friendly tool.
*. Change update intervals (default is “1” second).
*. Supports few built in color depths (1,16-default, 88 and 256), higher numbers mean better quality outputs.
*. Monitors network interfaces (upload & download) and your file system.
*. Can be setup to use plain text rather than graphs (disabled by default).
That’s pretty much it.
If interested, you can install “speedometer” (written by Ian Ward, thanks!) in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by using the below command in your Terminal window.
sudo apt-get install speedometer
Measuring Network Download speeds …
Before you can measure the network speeds, first you have to figure out the type of connection (the interface’s name) you have. If you use a Wi-Fi connection (or wireless in general), then the interface name is “wlan0″. If you have an Ethernet card, then it’s called “eth0″.
So to monitor the network download speed of a Wi-Fi connection for instance, use the below command in your Terminal window.
speedometer -rx wlan0
If you have an Ethernet card, then use the below one instead.
speedometer -rx eth0
As said, it is not a network benchmark tool, but if you want to check the maximum speeds of your network, then you can manually start downloading few files (download Firefox for instance, as their servers are always bloody fast! ;-)) and “speedometer” will give you speed graphs with peak values etc as shown in the first screenshot.
How to change the update intervals (in seconds) …
If you want, you can manually change the update intervals with ease by using the “-i” parameter. So if I wanted change update intervals to 0.5 while monitoring my Wi-Fi connection for instance, then I’ll use the below command.
speedometer -i 0.5 -rx wlan0
Measuring the Upload speeds …
If you want to measure the upload speeds, then you can use the above two commands, but will have to replace “rx” with “tx”.
For instance, if I wanted to measure the upload speed of my Wi-Fi connection, then I’d use something like the below command.
speedometer -tx wlan0
Again, to see the actual speeds, you’ll have to upload a file or two to an online server (such as to “Ubuntu One”, Cloud servers for instance).
Measuring the file system speed …
As mentioned above, “speedometer” can even monitor your HDD speeds too. To achieve that, while running it, enter the below command. Basically it’ll create a new file (RAW) about 1GB in size and while it’s creating it, “speedometer” will monitor the HDD and measure the speeds (as shown below).
dd bs=1000000 count=1000 if=/dev/zero of=testfile & speedometer testfile
If you want to change the “testfile” size, then replace the value “1000” (marked in Blue) with your preferred size (in Megabytes).
After running the test, enter the below command to remove the file.
Although not necessary, but if you want, you can read its manual (as it contains few other options: changing the color quality, graph size etc) by using the below command as well.
So as a final note, if you want to measure the speed of your HDD or the Network download/uploads speeds in Ubuntu Linux, and looking for a extremely resources friendly utility, then “Speedometer” is an excellent little tool.