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Most mainboards have sensor chips to monitor system health (like temperatures,
voltages, fans speed). They are often connected through an I2C bus, but some
are also connected directly through the ISA bus.
The kernel drivers make the data from the sensor chips available in the /sys
virtual filesystem. Userspace tools are then used to display or set or the
data in a more friendly manner.
Core set of utilites that will allow you to obtain health information,
setup monitoring limits etc. You can get them on their homepage or as a package from your Linux distribution.
If from website:
Get lmsensors from project web site. Please note, you need only userspace
part, so compile with "make user_install" target.
General hints to get things working:
0) get lm-sensors userspace utils
1) compile all drivers in I2C section as modules in your kernel
2) run sensors-detect script, it will tell you what modules you need to load.
3) load them and run "sensors" command, you should see some results.
4) fix sensors.conf, labels, limits, fan divisors
5) if any more problems consult FAQ, or documentation
Other utilites
If you want some graphical indicators of system health look for applications
like: gkrellm, ksensors, xsensors, wmtemp, wmsensors, wmgtemp, ksysguardd,
If you are server administrator you can try snmpd or mrtgutils.