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Track the RAM usage (resident set size) of a process and its descendants in real time.

Project description


Track the RAM usage (resident set size) of a process, its children, its children's children, etc. in real time with a Unicode text sparkline. See the average and the maximum usage after the process exits, as well as the run time.


> memsparkline -- chromium-browser --incognito http://localhost:8081/
▁▁▁▁▄▇▇▇█ 789.5
 avg: 371.0
 max: 789.5
time: 0:00:12.0
> memsparkline -n -o log du /usr/ >/dev/null 2>&1 &
> tail -f log
█ 2.8
▆█ 3.3
▆▇█ 3.6
▆▇▇█ 3.9
▆▇▇█▆ 3.3
▆▇▇█▆▆ 3.3
▆▇▇█▆▆▆ 3.3
▆▇▇█▆▆▆▆ 3.3
▄▅▅▆▅▅▅▅█ 5.2
▄▅▅▆▅▅▅▅██ 5.2
 avg: 3.7
 max: 5.2
time: 0:00:10.1

Compatibility and limitations

memsparkline works on POSIX systems supported by psutil. It has been tested on Debian, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD. It seems to work on Windows, but Windows support has received minimal testing. The sparkline displays incorrectly in the Command Prompt and ConEmu on Windows 7 with the stock console fonts but correctly on Windows 10 with the font NSimSun.

memsparkline measures run time less precisely than time(1). The granularity with which it measures run time depends on the --wait option.


memsparkline requires Python 3.7 or later.

Installing from PyPI

The recommended way to install memsparkline is from PyPI with pipx.

pipx install memsparkline

You can also use pip:

pip install --user memsparkline

Manual installation

  1. Install the dependencies from package repositories for your OS. You will find instructions for some operating systems below.
  2. Download src/memsparkline/ and copy it to a directory in PATH as memsparkline. For example,
git clone
cd memsparkline
sudo install src/memsparkline/ /usr/local/bin/memsparkline


sudo apt install python3-psutil
DragonFly BSD 6.6, FreeBSD 13.1
sudo pkg install py39-psutil
NetBSD 9.3
sudo pkgin in py310-psutil
doas pkg_add py3-psutil


usage: memsparkline [-h] [-v] [-d path] [-l n] [-m fmt] [-n] [-o path] [-q]
                    [-t fmt] [-w ms]
                    command ...

Track the RAM usage (resident set size) of a process and its descendants in
real time.

positional arguments:
  command               command to run
  arg                   arguments to command

  -h, --help            show this help message and exit
  -v, --version         show program's version number and exit
  -d path, --dump path  file to which to write full memory usage history when
  -l n, --length n      sparkline length (default: 20)
  -m fmt, --mem-format fmt
                        format string for memory amounts (default: "%0.1f")
  -n, --newlines        print new sparkline on new line instead of over
  -o path, --output path
                        output file to append to ("-" for standard error)
  -q, --quiet           do not print sparklines, only final report
  -t fmt, --time-format fmt
                        format string for run time (default: "%d:%02d:%04.1f")
  -w ms, --wait ms      how long to wait between taking samples (default:



See also

memusg and spark inspired this project.

Tracking memory usage


  • spark — a Bash script that generates a Unicode text sparkline from a list of numbers.
  • sparkline.tcl — a Tcl script by the developer of this project that does the same. Adds a --min and --max option for setting the scale.

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