Hey John --
Here's some of the logic that may be escaping you:
/bin and /sbin are typically part of the root filesystem, the filesystem that has to be mounted for pretty much anything to work. Therefore, the utilities in those directories are the minimal "get my system running" or "fix it please" type things. /usr, on the other hand, is a filesystem that typically is mounted after sanity checks and basic boot operations are completed, which means that the less-intrinsic functionality will be found there.
Basic monitoring -- most useful quickie text app is "top". That will show you in the first four or five lines how heavily loaded your system is, and the rest of the screen lists the running processes in order of their CPU utilization (the order is mutable.) A GUI tool (which can therefore be displayed over an X/SSH connection :) ) for recent-time monitoring is gkrellm, which I believe is *not* included in the standard distribution; you'll have to install it using the package manager. Gkrellm is a nicely configurable tool and gives you all the nice graphs-over-time that you'd expect.
The Swiss Army knife of monitoring is the tool "sar", sorry don't remember if it's installed by default but you can find it in the package manager if it isn't. Read the man pages for sar if you plan to use it -- sar flags are different on every OS.
Don't know if you have managed the "X over SSH" yet or not. It comes in three parts. (I believe you're using a Windows client to get to your Ubuntu machine, yes?)
1) First, you have to permit X communications over your SSH link. Most Windows SSH clients have a flag you can set to do that forwarding; for example PuTTY has a box that says "Enable X forwarding" or some such. Check the docs if you can't find it.
2) You need to be running an X server on your windows machine. I use Cygwin; it's free and it works fine. When it's running you'll see the X logo in your Windows system bar.
3) You're ready to start clients. You can start up any client you want on your remote machine with the DISPLAY environment variable set to your local machine's IP address followed by :0 and the UI pops up on your local machine. Use "DISPLAY=winIP:0 command" on the remote machine.
The "cool" way is to have a shortcut on your Windows machine that runs a local script containing
ssh -f uname@remote DISPLAY=winip:0
-- which means you have no local window open at all, just a background SSH connection maintaining the link... and the remote window pops up on your Windows machine as though you had merged the desktops. :)
If you have any problems with any of this let me know...