30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. Don't Compiz
On the other hand, the wonderful effects that Compiz produces can't really be described as functional, although they do provide some improved usability for some. You can free up plenty of resources by disabling the desktop effects from the Visual Effects page of the Preferences>Appearance window.
35. Get packages off a CD or DVD
Even in these times of pervasive internet, you sometimes need to be able to install a package without having an internet connection. Fortunately, the Synaptic package manager can read the contents of an Ubuntu installation CD, and add those packages to the database for installation from the drive. Open the Software Sources window from the Administration menu, switch to the 'Third Party' page and click on the 'Add CD-ROM' button.
36. Boost load speed with Preload
Preload is a tool you can install through the Synaptic package manager. It will run silently in the background, from where it will try to guess which libraries you're likely to use before you use them. It will then load these into memory so that your applications load quicker. The effects seem to be minimal with recent releases of Ubuntu, but it's worth a try.
37. Use a virtual desktop
If you enjoy trying different distributions, but have always been put off by the installation, try Virtual Box from the official Ubuntu repositories. It's easy to use and lets you install a virtual version of almost any Linux installation (and even Windows) right on your desktop, and running at close to native speeds.
38. Boot into text mode
Sometimes, a graphical environment is unnecessary, especially if you use your machine as a server. Which is exactly why there's a version of Ubuntu called the Server edition. By default, Server has no graphical desktop. But in all other ways, it's the same Ubuntu. This makes it perfect as a web or media streaming server.
39. Suspend your system
Why wait for your system to boot when you can resume your session from hibernation. This is quicker than booting, and you can continue where you left off. But it's also dependent on your hardware behaving itself. Just give it a go to see if your hardware supports the feature. Click on the logout button, and if hibernate appears as an option, it should work.
40. Customise your kernel
If you're feeling really brave (and we'd never recommend this for anyone with too little time on their hands), you could build your own kernel. It's not as hard as it sounds and it will enable you to add only the features and hardware you're likely to use. Excellent step by step instructions can be found here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Kernel/Compile
41. Try it, it's really not that bad
The command-line really is your friend. After opening Terminal from the Applications>Accessories menu (or Konsole in KDE), you can accomplish many common tasks much more effectively than from any desktop GUI. To copy folder, for example, type 'cp -rf source destination', rename a file with 'mv' and edit a text file using a command called 'nano'.
42. Easy command shortcuts
You can press the tab key while using the command-line to automatically complete command names as well as system paths. You can also cursor up through your command history, and use 'Ctrl + r' to search for a command starting with the characters you begin to type.
43. Replace heavy GUI applications with command-line equivalents
There are command-line versions of most desktop applications. You could install and use 'pine' for your email and news, for instance. Or try 'lynx' for web browsing and 'wget' or 'ncftp' for downloading files. 'mc', short for Midnight Commander, is a feature-full file manager, and all of these tools will run on hardly any memory with hardly any CPU requirements.
44. Create an ISO image from a CD or a DVD
You can create an ISO image from optical media, and most attached devices, by using a single command on the terminal. Type 'dd if=/dev/cdrom of=disk.iso bs=1024' to make a raw copy of the data and drop it into the disk.iso file. You may need to unmount the drive first, by typing 'sudo umount /dev/cdrom'.
45. Read an ISO disc image without burning it
If you've downloaded an ISO disc image, and you want to access the files on it without wasting an optical disk, you can create a virtual drive from the image with a single command. Open the terminal from the Accessories menu. Type 'sudo mkdir /mnt/image', followed by 'sudo mount -o loop disk.iso /mnt/image'. You can now browse the disc by pointing a file browser at the '/mnt/image' folder.
46. Use the 'screen' command
After you've got used to the command-line, one of the best commands to learn is called 'screen'. It's the command equivalent to virtual desktops, and it lets you run several sessions at once, as well as suspend and resume a session. Type 'screen' to start, then press 'Ctrl a' followed by 'c' to create a new session. 'Ctrl a' and 'n' or 'p' will switch through the active sessions. 'Ctrl a' and 'd' will detach from the session, while typing 'screen -r' will resume one.
47. Access your Ubuntu machine from anywhere
The best thing about the command-line is that you can use it to access your machine securely from anywhere on the internet. The key to this is something called 'SSH' – the secure shell. Install 'openssh-server' through Synaptic and use a tool called 'putty' on a Windows machine, or 'ssh' on Linux, to access the command-line through your user accounts on your Ubuntu box.
48. Transfer files between computers files quickly and securely
With the open SSH server installed and running, you can quickly and securely transfer files to and from the remote computer using the 'sftp' command. It works just like FTP, and accepts both 'put' and 'get' for file tranfers. If you prefer a GUI, we recommend using Filezilla on Windows, or 'sftp://' as a protocol in KDE.
49. Avoid typing 'sudo'
You might have noticed that for almost every important configuration command you type, you need to precede it with 'sudo' and your password. This can be a real pain if you're typing one sudo command after the other. Avoid this hassle by typing 'sudo bash', this transparently replaces the current shell with a new one, complete with administrator privileges.
50. Create a root account
If you find yourself spending more and more time requiring system administration privileges, you may as well enable the root account. Just type 'sudo passwd root', and enter your password followed by a new one for the root account. You can now type 'su root' to login as root, but you should only use this mode for essential system maintenance.
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