If you get your Internet service through Comcast, or any of the number of Internet providers who have a hard cap on bandwidth use, you may find some months in which you download and upload a great deal. This could cause you to wonder if you may be close to the monthly limit. Some service providers – such as Comcast – offer a handy bandwidth usage tool on their website, but it isn’t always completely accurate (how else to explain a month in which numerous Linux distros were downloaded, as well as an entire season of TV shows on iTunes, and yet 4 GB was the official bandwidth total for the month?).
If you use Linux, there is a handy utility called KNemo that can help you keep track of the bandwidth you’ve used (both uploading and downloading), and can even notify you when you’re getting close to your monthly limit. It is designed for KDE, but should work well in any Linux desktop environment with a notification area or system tray. Here’s how it works.
First, open up a Terminal.
Next, type sudo apt-get install knemo to install KNemo.
Note: the above command should work in any variety of Ubuntu, as well as distros derived from Ubuntu (such as Mint Linux), and distros derived from Debian, on which Ubuntu is based.
Once installed, you can launch KNemo from the Application Menu. It’s found in the Applications tab (in KDE, at least), under Internet.
You could also launch it by typing its name into a Run dialog.
It should load almost immediately, although your only notice will be a new icon in the system tray. If you hover over this icon, you’ll see a tooltip appear with lots of useful about your current network traffic.
Clicking the icon will produce a window with three tabs, for information on your Connection, on your Traffic (current traffic as well as monthly), and your Wireless connection, if present. On the Connection tab (shown below), you’ll see which interface is being monitored, as well as other information about that interface.
The traffic tab shows statistics about your current connection (how much information has been sent and received). This includes current statistics (such as the speed of your uploads and downloads), as well as how much you’ve uploaded and downloaded today, this month and this year.
Finally, the wireless tab shows information regarding your wireless connection, including its strength, encryption scheme and the name of the network you are connected to.
KNemo also offers a traffic plotter, which shows a glimpse of your bandwidth speed over the course of a few seconds. Right-click on the toolbar icon to show a contextual menu, from which you can choose to view the Traffic Plotter.
Below you’ll see the speeds attained while downloading a file via bittorrent. As you can see, the speeds vary greatly, depending upon the speed of those uploading the file.
If you want to customize KNemo, don’t worry; you’re in luck. KNemo is very flexible. Simply choose the Configure Option from the right-click menu (shown earlier).
Here you’ll see three tabs, for configuring KNemo’s interface (the window shown by left-clicking on the system tray icon), the tooltip (shown when hovering over the icon), and general options such as configuring any notifications.
The interface tab allows for quite a few options. You can change the icon theme, what information is shown on the context menu, and whether or not statistics are actively kept.
Note: if you turn on active statistics, a new contextual menu item will be available, so you can view them.
What’s particularly nice about this is that you can set up a custom billing period. Since not all Internet plans are billed between the first and last of the month, you can tell KNemo to count the traffic used starting on the 13th, and it will do just that, to give you a more accurate idea of whether or not you’re pushing your plan’s bandwidth limits.
The tooltip configuration tool lets you choose how much – or how little – is shown on the tooltip. From here you can also set whether or not KNemo is started automatically each time you login to your computer.
Finally the General options tab. Here you can choose how network traffic is shown, how often the interface should be updated and the information saved (and where), and what type of notifications you receive.
Configuring the notifications (just click the large Configure Notifications button), is pretty simple. By default there are five triggers already configured for you. You’ll receive some type of notice when your connection is disconnected or connected, if the device is unavailable or available, and when you exceed your traffic limit.
You’ll notice there are different types of notifications available, such as playing of a sound, showing a pop-up message, logging the message to a file, and more. You can choose which specific notification (or more than one), for each specific trigger. And remember, you can also set up a notification in the Interface tab’s Statistics tab for events other than going over yur limit, such as when you get close. This should allow you to never need to see the “over the limit” notification.
All in all, KNemo is a fantastic utility. It offers a ton of customization options, is a helpful tool for those who – by necessity or by choice – watch their bandwidth usage, and is really simple to configure and use.