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System-wide tweaks part 1

System-wide tweaks,

Here are some tips for a faster/better system performance.

Launch OpenOffice.org faster
The default OpenOffice.org configuration errs on the side of caution. There are 100 levels of undo, for example, and reducing this number will reduce the amount of memory it uses. This setting can be found from the Options window by switching to the Memory page. Try reducing the undo steps to 30.

Use the quick launch toolbar
In both Gnome and KDE, you can drag applications from the launch menu onto the desktop and onto the toolbar. Clicking on these icons is the quickest way of launching your most used applications, short of holding down a certain key combination.

Replace slow applications
One of the best things about open source is that there’s always an alternative, and switching to one can vastly improve your system’s performance. Try Abiword instead of OpenOffice.org’s Writer, Thunar instead of Nautilus and Opera instead of Firefox. All are broadly compatible with their alternatives, and perform faster.

Rapid application launch
If you know the name of the application or tool you want to launch, you can quickly start it by pressing Alt and F2. This displays a single command-line prompt in a window, and into this you type your application name. Type ‘firefox’ and its icon will appear. Pressing enter will launch it.

Take a screenshot
Pressing the Print key will take a screenshot and bring up the save file window. Being able to take a screenshot at any moment is incredibly useful, and is great for saving online order details, for example, or just your high score in Crack Attack. Pressing Alt and Print will take a screenshot of the currently active window.

Quickly restart the desktop
Occasionally, you may find that your desktop hangs and you can no longer use the keyboard or mouse. Fortunately, the desktop process is entirely independent of the rest of the operating system, and you can reset the desktop by holding down the Ctrl Alt and backspace keys. But you will still lose any unsaved data, so be careful.

Jump to a console
Another option if your desktop has crashed is jumping to a command-line console. Pressing Ctrl and alt, followed by F1-F6 will switch the display to one of six different consoles. From here, you can login and try to kill the process causing trouble, before switching back to your desktop by pressing Ctrl Alt and F7.

Create a separate Home partition
When you next perform a fresh installation of Ubuntu, choose the manual partition option and create three separate partitions. One needs to be for ‘/’, and should be around 10-20GB, . Another should be for the swap space, and be around the same size as your installed memory. And the final partition is ‘/home’, and will contain all your personal files. When you next install Ubuntu, choose manual again and your Home partition won’t be reformatted, keeping all your personal files and configuration options in tact.

Tweak your Nvidia settings
After installing the proprietary driver, Nvidia graphics hardware provides exceptional 3D and 2D acceleration for the Linux desktop. You can fine-tune your Nvidia hardware by installing an application called ‘nvidia-settings’, from which you can edit your monitor settings, enable twin displays and add a drop shadow to the cursor.

Track down large unused files
Large and scattered files can start to slow your desktop down, as well as any applications that rely on reading the contents of a directory. The best tool we’ve found for consolidating and deleting unused files is called Filelight. It uses a pie chart to show where the largest files are located, and you can easily delete directories of junk from the right click menu.

Enable vertical sync in Compiz
Compiz, the 3D whizzy desktop effects application, can be either a resource hog or even an acceleration tool. It depends on the power of your graphics hardware. But we’ve nearly always had better more responsive results on the desktop by enabling the vertical sync option in the general option page of the Compiz settings manager.

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