One of the biggest draws of Linux as a powerful OS ecosystem is its speed out of the box, but it’s always beneficial to further speed up your Linux PC. Below are multiple elements that factor into your system’s speed capabilities and some great ways to speed things up.
Initially, Linux used a simple scheduling algorithm to handle tasks in a circular fashion. Since its creation, Linux has consistently improved its thread scheduling, culminating in a highly advanced and scalable design called the Completely Fair Scheduler.
CFS uses virtual run-time to decide which tasks need executing. In addition to this, a red-black, self-balancing tree of scheduled tasks is kept to manage tasks more efficiently than a run queue.
Linux makes use of surprisingly advanced filesystem designs relative to other OS market contenders. Ever since the introduction of the Ext filesystem’s third iteration, Ext3, Linux has benefited from journaling capabilities, effectively preventing filesystem corruption in the case of a failed file transfer or power outage.
Ext4 further extends Ext3’s functionality to accommodate much larger files and allow for unlimited subdirectories at high access speeds.
Speaking of speed, here are a few ways you can seriously boost the speed of your Linux system.
An easy starting place for boosting your computer’s performance is always at the start. There are a few key approaches to this, and they center on the following optimizations. (We’ll use Ubuntu as our example below.)
1. Speed Up Linux Boot by Reducing the Grub Time
If your Linux system is using Grub as the bootloader, you will find that it will display the GRUB bootloader for anywhere from ten to thirty 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
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,
2. Reduce the Number of Startup Applications
Each Linux distro poses slight variations to the process of managing startup applications, but the general premise is the same.
In Ubuntu, handling startup applications is as easy as opening an application named “Startup Applications” and going over its contents with a fine-tooth comb.
Just click on anything recognizable that seems unnecessary to load every time you boot up your system. Clicking “Remove” immediately removes the option you’ve selected with no confirmation message. If you’re unsure of your selection, you can simply remove the checkmark next to the option instead.
3. Check for Unnecessary System Services
Keep in mind that not all of the applications your machine runs at startup are immediately visible without running the following special command from your terminal first:
Once done, you’ll see quite a lot more in Startup Applications than you did before, including system services. You can change these as needed.
4. Change Your Desktop Environment
Another easy speed improvement you can implement comes from optimizing your desktop environment. This option carries with it a number of overt interface changes as well, so it might not be suitable if you like your current setup. If you’re up for a change and a speed increase, then this could work very well indeed.
There are a few desktop environment options available that deliberately emphasize speed above other factors.
Xfce is designed to be lightweight and speed-optimized. Multi-touch capabilities and ample customization options make this a suitable desktop environment even for aesthetic purposes.
To install this desktop environment in Ubuntu, enter the following in your terminal:
Then, log out of your user session and select the new desktop option before logging back in.
Another largely speed-focused desktop environment, LXDE or “Lightweight X11 Desktop Environment,” is designed to be modular, allowing its individual components to be added to your system instead of installing the entire thing in one go.
Installing LXDE in Ubuntu is as easy as entering the following in your terminal:
Follow the same procedure as you would for Xfce (logout and select it) to activate it.
This environment’s modular design highlights another speed-boosting option connected to your system’s UI.
5. Cut Down on Swappiness
This speed improvement tactic focuses on how Linux makes use of active memory. Typically, use of a swap partition on your hard drive is handled automatically with a rather high setting. Termed “swappiness,” this setting can range from 0 to 100 and comes preconfigured at 60.
The default of 60 is usually far more aggressive a setting than most users require, and lowering it helps your machine better utilize its own resources.
Reducing swappiness is as easy as typing the following in your terminal to access “sysctl.conf”:
Then, append the following to the bottom of the file and close it:
Reboot and enjoy the speed boost.
The tips we’ve covered here are definitely worth a try if you’re looking to speed up your Linux machine. Any of them in isolation or all of them combined can help speed up your system, saving resources for the tasks that matter most to you. Give them a try and get things done much faster.