The masses seem to think that Ubuntu is reserved for the newer users. Although it is true that this Linux distribution is ideal for new users, that doesn’t mean that’s the only market for Ubuntu. In fact, Ubuntu is perfectly suited for all levels of users.
Since most tips you see for Ubuntu are geared toward new user, we’re going to take it up a notch and offer some tips for the Ubuntu power users. These tips will vary in scope and level of expertise but all will improve your Ubuntu Linux experience.
1: Decrease your boot time
Did you know that you can profile your Ubuntu boot process to streamline it? This tool has been available since Ubuntu 6.04, and with the increased speed of 10.04, it can now bring your boot process to an incredibly low time. To do this all you need to do is edit your /etc/default/grub file and change the line:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash profile"
Now issue the command:
and reboot your machine. This next boot will take a bit longer than the standard period because the profiling is occurring. After this boot, remove the “profile” option from your grub file (which you just added above), issue the update-grub2 command again, and you will notice much faster boot times.
2: Launch applications with keyboard shortcuts
Removing your fingers from the keyboard is inefficient computing. Any good programmer will tell you this. But to make this as efficient as possible, you need to create keyboard shortcuts. To do this in the GNOME desktop, you have to visit your old pal gconf-editor. When you have that open, navigate to apps > metacity > global_keybindings, where you can edit any of the 12 run_command_X (where X is a number between 1 and 12) to be used to launch your favorite application or command.
3: Update without an Internet connection
With the help of a one-time Internet connection, you can create a CD that will help you update all your other Ubuntu machines. The tool you need is called APTonCD. This tool creates a CD/DVD of all the necessary updates for your Ubuntu machine. You can then take that disc to each of your machines, insert it, and update with the help of dpkg. The APTonCD has an outstanding GUI that will walk you through the process of creating a usable CD/DVD.
4: Speed up your popup menus
If you’re like me, the delay between clicking on a menu and the appearance of a menu can be annoying — even though we’re talking milliseconds. I prefer to remove that delay so that as soon as I click, the menu appears. This is a simple trick for the GNOME desktop. Open up the file ~/.gtkrc-2.0 and add the line:
gtk-menu-popup-delay = 0
to the bottom of that file. Save the file, log out, and log back in. Your menus should now appear as soon as the thought crosses your mind.
5: Create Nautilus actions
The ability to right-click a file and run an action makes the desktop life so much easier. The GNOME desktop, along with the Nautilus file manager, offers a great feature that many do not even know exists: the Nautilus Actions Configuration Tool. You will find this tool in System > Preferences > Nautilus Actions Configuration. From within this window, you can roll your own actions, which will then be added to the right-click context menu from within Nautilus. You will need to set up five tabs of information: Action, Command, Folders, Conditions, and Advanced Conditions. This tool also allows you to import actions that others have created. Say you want to create a mailto action using Thunderbird. This one is simple. The only challenging section will be the command. For the command section (in the Command tab) enter:
Path: /usr/bin/thunderbird Parameters: -compose 'attachment=file://%f'
The rest of the options should be fairly obvious to complete. Issue the command killall nautilus. After Nautilus restarts, you should have a new right-click content menu entry for the mailto.
Tap into the power
These are just a few samples of what you can do with a Ubuntu desktop (and/or server, in some instances). Ubuntu is a user-friendly AND powerful operating system. We’ll share more of these power tips in the future.
Check out Five Tips… the newsletter
Get a concise roundup of solutions and techniques that will make your IT job go more smoothly. TechRepublic’s Five Tips newsletter, delivered every Tuesday, gives you instant access to the information you need. Automatically sign up today.