How to Speed Up Ubuntu 18.04

Experiencing sluggish responses? These tips will fire things up

The Ubuntu Linux Desktop
01
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Restart Your Computer

Power options, including Restart, on Ubuntu Linux

This is one many Linux users forget about. Why? Because Linux doesn’t generally need to be restarted. Linux is very well known for running a long, long time without requiring a computer reboot. However, this can cause issues if temporary files and rogue processes pile up. Instead of manually going through and deleting those temporary files and ending those rogue processes, you can simply restart the computer. To restart Ubuntu Desktop, click the drop-down in the top right corner, and then (when prompted) click Restart. Your computer will reboot and you’re ready to enjoy an improved experience.

02
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Keep Up With the Updates

Screenshot of the Ubuntu Desktop Updates tool.

Computer software updates happen for a reason. Many times those reasons are of a security nature (which should give you all the reason you need to keep that computer updated). However, some updates also go a long way to making the computer run more efficiently. These types of updates can be in the form of code cleanup, bug removal, and more.

Fortunately, the task of updating Ubuntu doesn’t require you to open a terminal window and issue commands. Instead, you can do the following:

  1. Select the Dash button at the bottom left corner of your desktop.
  2. Type updates.
  3. select the Updates icon.
  4. If any updates are available, press Install Now.
  5. Allow the updates to complete.
  6. If your computer requires a reboot (should the kernel be updated), you’ll be prompted to do so.
03
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Keep Startup Applications in Check

Startup Applications Preferences window in Ubuntu Linux

The more you use Ubuntu, the more applications you’ll install. Some of these applications do not start until you tell them to do so. Some, on the other hand, might add themselves as a Startup Application. What this means is the application in question will automatically start when you log into the machine. This can affect the speed at which your computer will complete the login process, as well as take precious system resources.

To prevent an application from starting at login, do the following:

  1. Select the Dash button at the bottom left corner of your desktop.
  2. Type startup.
  3. Choose Startup Applications.
  4. Select the application to remove from the list.
  5. Press Remove.

Use Caution

Use caution when removing applications from Startup. If you’re unsure, it’s best to leave the application in the list.

04
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Install a Lightweight Desktop Alternative

Screenshot of installing the Lubuntu Desktop.

This one is a bit trickier. Why? Because you’ll not only be installing more software, you’ll have to learn a new desktop. But if you find the default GNOME desktop to be a bit too sluggish, you could try one designed to be lightweight. One such desktop is Lubuntu. To install Lubuntu, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal window.
  2. Issue the command sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop -y
  3. When prompted type your sudo password.
  4. During the installation, make sure to select lightdm as the default display manager.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.
Screenshot of selecing Lubuntu as the desktop.

Once the installation has completed, reboot the desktop and (at the login prompt) make sure to select Lubuntu from the drop-down before logging into your new, lightweight desktop.

05
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Install Preload

Screenshot of installing preload.

Preload is a system that runs in the background and keeps track of applications you frequently run. When preload tracks such an app, it loads all the related dependencies necessary into system memory. This has the effect of making apps load much faster than they would otherwise.

To install preload, open a terminal window and issue the command:

sudo apt-get install preload -y

Once preload has been installed, start using your computer. Give preload enough time to learn your habits, and eventually you’ll see your desktop starting to run a bit more efficiently.

06
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Clean Your Browser History

Screenshot of the Cookies and Site Data section of Firefox Preferences.

This should go without saying, but we take our web browsers for granted. Consider this: The web browser is probably the single most used tool on your desktop. You use it every single day for many, many reasons. Over time, those browsers can start to get quite sluggish. If the web browser is the only tool you use on Ubuntu, and it starts to bog down, you’ll assume Ubuntu itself is the culprit. If you find your web browser sluggish, open another application and see if it is also responding slowly. If not, chances are it’s only your browser.

Cleaning your browser history is pretty easy. Since Ubuntu defaults to the Firefox browser, here’s what you do:

  1. Open Firefox.
  2. Select the Menu button in the upper-right corner of the browser window.
  3. Choose Preferences.
  4. Select Privacy & Security.
  5. Scroll down to Cookies and Site Data.
  6. Press Clear Data.
  7. When prompted, select Clear.
Screenshot of clearing Firefox data.

Careful

When cleaning your browser history, you could wind up losing saved passwords and other information. Because of this, make sure you know your passwords for the sites and services you depend upon.