5 awesome ways you can improve your Ubuntu experience

Tech Daily Feb 15, 2020

Over the years of my usage of linux, a lot of my time was spent using Ubuntu. Starting at Ubuntu 12.04, all the way to Ubuntu 19.10, I have used Ubuntu pretty extensively. While I love other distros especially manjaro, but my primary work laptop always runs Ubuntu.

Over the years, I came across many ways that help speed up the system. While Ubuntu is definitely fast, it can always be made faster. Below I list 5 ways you can speed up Ubuntu.

Tip #1: boot from SSD, keep your files on HDD

Solid State Drives (SSD) are faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDD)

If you've got a system with a SSD as well as an HDD, chances are, the storage capacity of your SSD is pretty small as compared to your Hard Disk. Most likely your SSD is around 128-512GB in size.

One easy solution is to keep your root partition / on the SSD, and keep your home directory /home/username on the HDD, this will help the boot times, but your home directory is still on HDD.

Many application store cache files, temporary files and other config in the home directory, for example, Google chrome's cache.

Solution: Edit the /etc/fstab file and bind some folders in your HDD to folders in your SSD, binding is actully a lot better than symlinks. For example, I find the Downloads, Documents, Pictures, Videos, CODING and Projects directory bound to folders in the HDD, this way all my downloads and projects are in the HDD while all boot files, cache and application specific files are in the SSD.

Screenshot of my fstab file

I will post a detailed guide later on, but this has made my computer load all apps and their config from SSD, and load all documents and data from the HDD.

Tip #2: Use apt-fast instead of apt-get

Let's get it straight, apt-get is not the fastest when it comes to installing packages. if downloads all the files sequentially and sometimes the mirrors do get quite slow even after selecting the fastest one.

Solution: Install apt-fast. it is a wrapper around apt-get, apt or aptitude and it really makes a difference by allowing simultaneous connections. If a package downloads 15 files, many of them will be downloaded simultaneously, saturating your bandwidth and speeding up the installation process quite a bit.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:apt-fast/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install apt-fast
Steps to install apt-fast on Ubuntu

Tip #3: Reduce the number of startup applications

By deactivating the startup applications that you don't use actively, your boot time, as well as your available memory will improve, thereby improving the user experience.

To manage the startup applications to go Activities (Windows key) and search for Startup applications and open the Preferences.

Startup Applications

Tip #4: Use tlp to improve your laptop's battery life.

tlp is an amazing tool that runs in the background, monitors the usage and adjusts the cpu frequency among many other parameters to give you better battery life and reduced heating

To install and activate tlp, type

sudo apt-get install tlp
sudo tlp start

Tip #5: Use preload for faster application launch

preload is another magical utility like tlp that you just install and forget about. preload monitors your usage in the background and loads frequently used applications in advance. If you use firefox frequently, preload will load firefox in background, and when you actually click on the icon, it will launch instantly

To install preload type in the below command, then restart your computer and forget about it.

sudo apt-get install preload

Bonus Tip #6: Use fusuma to enable macOS like trackpad gestures

Fusuma is a great tool, it uses libinput and xdotool to enable arbitrary commands on gestures.

For a detailed installation guide Click here

After you finish installing by following the guide, edit the ~/.config/fusuma/config.ymlfile and paste the below contents as I have tested and tweaked it a lot.

Basically, three finger swipe up, down, left or right manipulates workspaces
two finger pinch in or out will zoom in or out in most applications
four finger pinch in or out will open Activities

swipe:
  3:
    left: 
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+alt+Down'
    right: 
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+alt+Up'
    up: 
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+alt+Down'
    down: 
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+alt+Up'
pinch:
  2:
    in:
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+plus'
    out:
      command: 'xdotool key ctrl+minus'
  4:
    in:
      command: 'xdotool key super'
    out:
      command: 'xdotool key super'

threshold:
  swipe: 0.4
  pinch: 0.4

interval:
  swipe: 0.8
  pinch: 0.1

Sohan Basak

Hi, I am Sohan. A software engineer by profession, I am really passionate about algorithms, AI/ML, Maths and Physics. Play the guitar as a hobby, the maths behind music is fascinating.