Getting the Most From Ubuntu: 20 Tips: Page 2

Tricks, techniques and apps to supercharge your Ubuntu desktop.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted September 17, 2012

Matt Hartley

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Preload – While performance will vary depending on application consistency, I've found that installing Preload can often speed up your system by "predicting" which applications you're most likely to use during the day. Preload is an "adaptive readahead daemon," which means it will add some overhead to your session. Generally, any overhead added is offset in speed gained due to its efforts.

zramswap – While zramswap may not be appropriate for every single PC out there, it does have something to offer for older systems – as it creates a RAM-based block device.

This block device then acts as a virtual swapdisk. It should be noted, however, that zramswap lacks value on SSD hard drives, as solid state devices don't benefit from this type virtual swapdisk. But older PCs see a fair performance boost when running with zramswap fully engaged.

Optimized swap – All too often you may find that your swap partition is being called upon when, in reality, it's unneeded. This is bad because swapping from the hard drive is much slower than utilizing the existing RAM available. Thankfully, this is easily corrected by adjusting a parameter known as swappiness. Adjusting the swappiness parameter is simply a matter of doing the following:

Open a terminal, paste in sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=10. Next, spend some time seeing if your performance improves any. If you're happy with the change, you can make it permanent by simply pasting gksudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf into your terminal, then change vm.swappiness=60 to vm.swappiness=10. If you happen to run a system without swap, then this tip is a moot issue for you.

For your notebook:

PowerTOP – Something I consider to be notebook specific, PowerTOP is a helpful command line tool that will allow you to see where your PCs resources are being spent. Designed for notebook users, with PowerTOP you can immediately see how your notebook is using power, items that can be disabled and why your notebook seems to be so power hungry.

laptop-mode-tools– Power consumption for notebooks has come a long way since last year. Back then, Ubuntu and most other distros, would eat right through your battery resources. These days however, the latest Linux kernel bundled with the CLI utility called laptop-mode-tools has managed to stop excessive battery drain.

With the mere act of making sure you're running kernel 3.5.x and that you have laptop-mode-tools installed and activated, it's not impossible to add two hours to your notebook battery. As an added bonus, special for Datamation readers...I've included a working laptop-mode-tools GUI called laptop-mode-setup.

Run this as gksudo, it will allow you to enable or disable laptop mode easily. My recommended settings are simple. Run the program as sudo, then make sure you ONLY select enable laptop-mode on battery. Leave all other settings alone, especially the option to run while on AC. Unless you know what you're doing, it's best to keep it simple.

Remember to hit apply and reboot when finished. You can see from my two powertop images how the utility can make a huge difference.

Jupiter Applet – The final recommendation I have for you is actually something I use to better control specific aspects of my notebook. The Jupiter applet provides me with easy access to CPU throttling, supports ASUS Eee Super Hybrid Engine, and remembers the settings you've selected after each reboot. Bundle this with #19 above and you will have a tremendous amount of control over how your notebook/netbook uses power.

As an added bonus, Jupiter also provides you easy access to toggling your WiFi, and bluetooth (if integrated) on or off.

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Tags: Linux, Ubuntu

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