How to Make Ubuntu Faster

How to Make Ubuntu FasterEveryone loves a speedy computer. No matter how fast your computer is already running, We are sure you are keen to make it run even faster, and smoother. Ubuntu is pushing the Linux desktop movement forward. Since it’s inception in 2004, Ubuntu has released over 10 versions so far, each one improving on its predecessor. It remains one of those few operating systems, that boots really fast. Still, if you are one of those brave hackers who likes to tune your machine to maximize efficiency,here is a compliation of the tricks we use to speed up our Linux computer.The tips in this tutorial are suitable for speeding up both modern multi-core setups as well as older single core hardware that are low of resources. Also note that some of the tricks can be carried out with ease, while others require some familiarity with the Linux command-line.

Reducing the boot menu delay

If you dual-boot Ubuntu and Windows on your computer the boot menu appears for 10 seconds, during which you can select either Windows or Ubuntu. If you only have Ubuntu installed, a prompt appears for three seconds telling you that you can hit a key to see the boot menu. You obviously don’t need to wait for the 3 seconds since you have no other OS to boot from. You can eliminate this delay by editing the boot menu configuration file.

$ gksu gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst

Then search for the line that reads timeout 10 and change the 10 to 0, to disable the boot menu completely.

Run boot-time scripts in parallel

Whenever Ubuntu boots, it runs several scripts that start necessary background services. By default these are set to run one-by-one but if you have a processor with more than one core, such as Intel’s Core Duo series or AMD’s Athlon X2, you can configure Ubuntu to run the scripts in parallel. This way all the cores are utilized and quite a bit of time can be saved at each boot.
To make the change, type the following to open the necessary configuration file in Gedit:

$ gksu gedit /etc/init.d/rc

Look for the line that reads CONCURRENCY=none and change it so it reads CONCURRENCY=shell. Then save the file and reboot your computer.

Trimming the GNOME startup programs

Once you’ve logged into the GNOME desktop, you’ll face yet another delay as all the GNOME background software starts. A few seconds can be saved by trimming this list and that can be done using the GNOME Sessions program (System → Preferences → Sessions). Under the Startup Programs tab, look through the list for items you might want to prune. For example, if you’re never going to use Evolution’s alarm function then Evolution Alarm Notifier can be disabled by removing the check alongside it. Be careful. Don’t turn any program off unless you are not sure what it does. For example Volume Manager isn’t related to audio, instead it enables the automatic detection of external storage devices attached to your machine.

Cut down the grub

Whether you have a dual boot setup or not, if you’ve installed a Linux distro, your boot will surely be interrupted by the GRUB bootloader. By default, most desktop Linux distros will display the GRUB bootloader for anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds. Do you know that you can trim the duration of the bootloader, or even skip the countdown completely?

Fire up a terminal and open the /etc/default/grub file in your favourite text editor.

sudo nano /etc/default/grub
Look for the GRUB_TIMEOUT variable. Replace the value associated with this variable to something like 5 or 3. Set it to 0 to disable the countdown (the first entry will be selected by default).

Save (Ctrl + o) and close the file (Ctrl + x). Then run

for the change to take effect,

 Streamline services

Instead of the good ol’ init daemon, Ubuntu and its derivatives are now using Upstart to manage services.

You can check the status of a service with the “status” command. For example,

sudo status cups

will mention the state of the service (“running” or “stopped”) and also prints its unique process ID. To disable a service, you need to create what’s called an override file. This file takes precedence over the original service file.

To illustrate, assume your distro lists the MySQL and Apache services as running although you don’t use them. To disable them, you need to create two override files, such as:

sudo sh -c "echo 'manual' > /etc/init/mysql.override"
sudo sh -c "echo 'manual' > /etc/init/apache2.override"
These commands instruct Upstart that these services will be started manually by the user when required. Note that these files are placed under the “/etc/init” directory and not “/etc/init.d”. When Upstart encounters the override files for these two services, it will ignore the instructions in the original service files.

Using Lightweight Alternative Apps

Thanks to the richness and variety of app in the open source universe, there’s no dearth of alternatives, including some designed especially for slower machines.

You can start by switching to a lightweight display manager such as XDM, instead of LightDM, GDM or KDM that comes with your distro. XDM isn’t as pretty as the others but it exerts miniscule demand on the hardware.

You can also switch to a lighter window manager like Xfce, Openbox, Enlightenment, etc.

Or, if you are really adventurous, you can go whole hog and switch to a lightweight distro, like Puppy Linux, Lubuntu, CrunchBang, etc. These distros put in quite an effort to make sure their offerings don’t tax your hardware. For example, Puppy Linux is loaded with lightweight custom apps of all sorts and the Lubuntu distro ships with the zram kernel module to improve its performance on machines with little RAM.

If you use any of these tips to speed up your computer, or have some of your own, do share your experience by adding a comment below

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