How to Speed up Ubuntu 18.04

Experiencing sluggish responses? These tips will fire things up

If you're running the 18.04 LTS release of Ubuntu on your desktop, these simple tips will help keep your computer running quickly and smoothly.

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Restart Your Computer

Power options, including Restart, on Ubuntu Linux

This is one many Linux users forget about because Linux doesn't generally need to be restarted. Linux is well known for running a long time without requiring a computer reboot. However, this can cause issues if temporary files and rogue processes pile up.

Instead of manually deleting temporary files and ending rogue processes, restart the computer. To restart Ubuntu Desktop, click the drop-down arrow in the upper-right corner, then (when prompted) click Restart. Your computer reboots, and you're ready to enjoy an improved experience.

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Keep up With the Updates

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 your computer updated). However, some updates make the computer run more efficiently. These types of updates can be in the form of code cleanup, bug removal, and more.

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 lower-left corner of the desktop.
  2. Type updates.
  3. Select the Updates icon.
  4. If any updates are available, select Install Now.
  5. Allow the updates to complete.
  6. If your computer requires a reboot (when the kernel is updated), you're prompted to do so.
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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 may install. Some of these applications don't start until you open the apps. Some, on the other hand, might be added as a Startup Application. This means the application automatically starts when you log in to the machine. This can affect the speed at which your computer completes the login process, as well as take system resources.

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

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

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

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Install a Lightweight Desktop Alternative

Installing the Lubuntu Desktop

This one is trickier because you'll not only install more software, you'll also learn a new desktop. If you find the default GNOME desktop to be too sluggish, try one designed to be lightweight, for example, 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, select lightdm as the default display manager.
  5. Allow the installation to complete.
Screenshot of selecing Lubuntu as the desktop

When the installation completes, reboot the desktop and (at the login prompt) select Lubuntu from the drop-down menu before logging into your new, lightweight desktop.

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Install Preload

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 the related dependencies into system memory. This has the effect of making apps load faster than they would otherwise.

To install preload, open a terminal window, then 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, your desktop will run more efficiently.

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Clean Your Browser History

The Cookies and Site Data section of Firefox Preferences

A web browser is probably the most used tool on your desktop. You use it every single day for many, many reasons. Over time, those browsers can get sluggish. If the web browser is the only tool you use on Ubuntu, and it starts to bog down, it's easy to assume that Ubuntu is the culprit. If your web browser is sluggish, open another application, then see if it also responds slowly. If not, chances are it's only the browser.

Cleaning the browser history is 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. Select Clear Data.
  7. When prompted, select Clear.
Screenshot of clearing Firefox data

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

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