Linux: Quick commands for basic system information

Moving to a new operating system (whether it’s Windows, OS-X or a Linux OS that’s new to you) it’s often difficult to find what you are looking for — at first, and they all have some kind of a fancy way of displaying system information.

These graphical methods present a nice browsable list of information, but with a terminal command line, however, you can really dig under the hood of your Linux computer’s hardware.

The various distributions of Linux have different applications and utilities packaged with the OS by default, different package managers, different window managers/desktop environments, different artwork, etc. Some actually implement the system structure in different ways (like installing applications in one system directory vs. another) but when it comes right down to it, they are pretty much all the same. The user experience can be very different with each distribution, however, because of the different “packaging.” And that can be confusing to a new user. But underneath the outer layer is still the Linux kernel. The command line is where it all comes together, and that is where you can get your system specs most completely.

Display your system info using inxi

Possibly the easiest command to use in the terminal to get a full listing of your computer’s configuration is inxi -F as shown below. If inxi is not provided in your distribution by default, you will need to install it before you can use it. For a more verbose set of information, use inxi -Frmxx. For just the very basic info, type simply inxi. Use man inxi for the manual.

Display your system info using cat

Here are some additional ideas for displaying some of the statistics for your computer’s hardware and software using the command line. The list below contains some commands you can type into the terminal (or copy and paste if you prefer) that show some of the system information that is stored in text files on your system. Let’s start with a description of what these commands do:

cat takes the text contents of a file or files and displays it in the terminal window.
grep searches for a specific passage of text within a larger body of text
| (the vertical bar): tells the command line to take the output of the command to the left of the bar, and use it as input for the command to the right of the bar.

Useful commands:

Note that these should work regardless of your Linux distribution or window manager.

CPU info

cat /proc/cpuinfo
cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep 'model name'

Memory info:

cat /proc/meminfo
cat /proc/meminfo | grep MemTotal
cat /proc/meminfo | grep MemFree

Storage info:

cat /proc/partitions