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Posted by Sayak
July - 11 - 2008

A comprehensive guide of various tweaks to reduce memory usage, processor load and to cut down on system services.

Primarily, it is meant for Ubuntu Linux, but can be implemented on other distros as well.

Click here to view the blog.
Posted by Sayak
July - 11 - 2008

Reduce Swappiness
If your computer has 1GB+ RAM, you would be hardly needing your swap space in most cases. It is evident that the RAM is much faster than your hard drive (A good 677MHz DDR2 can give 3000+ MiB/s while a standard hard drive can give around 50MiB/s). So it’s better to let the RAM handle most of the processes. The tendency to use swap is called swappiness. Swap space is a cached area on the HDD that the OS utilizes as a memory overflow/dump area. To reduce swappiness, at a terminal, type in:
sudo sysctl -w vm.swappiness=10

If you wish to reduce the swappiness permanently, do:
sudo nano /etc/sysctl.conf

And change the vm.swappiness value to 10.

Using preload
Preload caches the most accessed applications on your disk and memory. Preload should not be installed on systems having memory less than 1GB, otherwise, it would not have any effect, or rather would advesly affect the performance. To install preload, at a terminal:
sudo apt-get install preload

Once installed, preload will automatically start during boot. It normally takes 20-30 launches of a program to start being cached by preload.

Disable unneeded startup services
Some services start-up automatically even if you don’t need them. Goto System->Administration->Services and press Unlock to provide your password for the keyring. You may disable services like Bluetooth, Logging and Printing services if you don’t need them.

Use lighter alternatives
You can use lighter alternatives to the existing programs you may use:

  • Firefox: Firefox has slightly higher memory consumption. You may use Opera or Epiphany as an alternative.
  • OpenOffice: You may use AbiWord and Gnumeric Spreadsheet as an alternative to OO-Word Processor and OO-Spreadsheet
  • Nautilus: You may use Thunar or PCManFM as an alternative.
  • Gnome-Panel: You can use FBPanel as an alternative.
  • Gnome-Terminal: You may use XTerm as a lighter alternative.

If you want to reduce RAM usage drastically, use a lite WM like Openbox and configure it to use Gnome apps. In that way, you can use all Gnome apps but you would use up very less memory.
Openbox configuration guide:

Disable unneeded ttys
Ubuntu comes with 6 ttys enabled. You usually don’t need more than 1 tty at a time. To disable tty2 to tty6:
sudo bash
cd /etc/event.d
mv tty2 tty2~
mv tty3 tty3~
mv tty4 tty4~
And so on till tty6.

Make OpenOffice faster in Ubuntu
Launch OO-Word Processor. Goto Tools->Options and click on Memory. From top to bottom on the window:

  • Reduce the Number of steps to 20
  • Set Use for to 128MB
  • Set Memory per object to 20MB
  • Set Number of Objects to 20
  • Check Enable systray Quickstarter

And press OK button.
Note: Enable the quickstarter only if you use OpenOffice extensively. Otherwise, the quick starter would be unneeded.

After performing these changes, do a reboot for the settings to take effect.

Posted by Sayak
July - 7 - 2008
Welcome readers!
This blog can be used as a guide by all Ubuntu users to set-up Ubuntu and make it aesthetically pleasing and use some cool eyecandies. It assumes the following priorly:

  • You have no Hardware incompatibility related problems.
  • You are running Gnome DE.
  • Your computer can run Compiz smoothly

This blog does not require any expertise to follow. Even a new user or so called, a linux n00b can easily follow the instructions and get things working.
Have fun!

Click here to read this blog.
Posted by Sayak
July - 7 - 2008

Let’s start from scratch. This is what your screen looks like just after a clean install:

First, we would install everything necessary to do the customization job. I would be putting up terminal commands here. Using terminal commands is the simplest way to install packages/getting things done. Make sure you have the repositories enabled. To enable repositories:

  1. Goto System->Administration->Sofware Sources
  2. Enter the password
  3. Enable the first four checkboxes on the Software Sources window
  4. Click on the Third Party Software tab and check all entries
  5. Click on the Updates tab and check Important and Recommended update sources.
  6. Close the Software Sources window and press Reload button when prompted to.

Now, to start with, open a terminal: Application->Accessories->Terminal And type in the following command:

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras vlc compizconfig-settings-manager catfish audacious wine startupmanager firestarter thunderbird localepurge emerald rar unrar-free flashplugin-nonfree virtualbox-ose gparted xchat

Users having a good idea about the linux packages can omit whatever packages they want to.

The above command will install the following on your system:

  • Multimedia Codecs + A few extra plugins (package: ubuntu-restricted-extras)
  • The VLC Media Player (package: vlc)
  • Compiz Settings Manager (package: compizconfig-settings-manager)
  • Catfish Search Utility (package: catfish)
  • Audacious Music Player (package: audacious)
  • Wine — Windows Emulator (package: wine)
  • Startup Manager — Grub Configuration Utility (package: startupmanager)
  • Firestarter — Firewall Configuration Utility (package: firestarter)
  • Thunderbird — Email Client (package: thunderbird)
  • Localepurge — Temporary and junk file remover (package: localepurge)
  • Emerald Theme Manager (package: emerald)
  • RAR and UNRAR: To be able to read and create RAR archives (packages: rar, unrar-free)
  • Flash plugin for Mozilla Firefox (package: flashplugin-nonfree)
  • Virtualbox: A virtual PC software on which you may install other operating systems. Link: (package: virtualbox-ose)
  • GParted Partition Editor (package: gparted)
  • XChat IRC Client (package: xchat)

Note: You may remove whatever package you do not need from the command before executing it. The package names are mentioned within brackets next to the name of the application.

Once the command is complete, there are a few more things that you may find handy. These are some direct links to download pages. Select the correct distribution and architecture you have and download the appropriate version (If available).
Real Player Linux:

Ubuntu Tweak:
GPicView: (This maybe an old version but you can install it on Hardy)
AWN Dock:

Installing Medibuntu:
Some packages like the Adobe Reader are not available in the standard-repositories. The easiest way to make such packages available to your system is to add the medibuntu repository. If you want to add this repository open a terminal and type in:

sudo wget -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list

And then, Import the gpg key and update your package list by typing:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update

To run some MS stuff (like wma/wmv files and to have MS fonts)
Open a terminal and type in:
sudo apt-get install w32codecs libdvdcss2 msttcorefonts

To install Adobe Reader
At a terminal, type in:
sudo apt-get install acroread acroread-plugins mozilla-acroread

After you have installed everything, open a terminal again and type in:

sudo apt-get autoremove

sudo apt-get autoclean
sudo localepurge

This would clear out unneeded junk packages from your installations.

Note: At this point, you might be prompted of updates (The orange icon on the notification area). We’ll update later.

Now we will install the latest Compiz-Fusion on your computer.
System->Administration->Software Sources
Click on Third Party Softwares tab. Press the Add button.
In the text area
Apt-line, type in (or paste) this:

deb hardy main

Press Add Source. Then press Close to close the Software Sources window and press Reload when prompted to.

Now click on the Update Manager applet in the notification area or (if applet not available), goto System->Administration->Update Manager and press the Check button. After it downloads and shows available updates, press Install Updates button. Updating may take a long time depending upon connection speed. After the update, you may need to reboot your computer if prompted for. A blue arrowed icon appears in the notification area. Click on it and you will see this:

Press the Restart Now button to restart your computer.

Let your computer restart. Once it restarts, you are done with installing essential software! You have quite many things that you need 🙂
Posted by Sayak
July - 7 - 2008

Download this file:
Extract the file. This has two files: Compiz.profile and Theme.emerald

Setting up Compiz (Works with Compiz 0.7.5 or later)
Goto System->Preferences->Advanced Desktop Effects Settings (known as CCSM)
Press Preferences button (bottom left)
Press Import button and select the Compiz.profile file.
This would import a fairly good looking compiz animation profile which works on almost all configurations.

Setting up Emerald
Goto System->Preferences->Sessions and press the Add button. Type in the Name as Emerald. Type in the Command as emerald –replace and press the OK button. Close the sessions window.
Now, press Alt+F2 and type in emerald –replace and press Enter.

Now goto System->Preferences->Emerald Theme Manager and click the Import button. Open the Theme.emerald file. You will find a new entry in the theme list

Just click on this theme to apply it. Close the emerald theme manager.
More emerald themes:

Wallpaper Selection
You can find nice wallpapers here at:
(Dual display wallpapers)

Here are some good looking icon sets:

Or choose from here:×121

I use a AER-OS-XK + NuovoXT.2.2 + Crashbit icon fusion.

Panel Background
Download this:
Extract the Panels.rar file. It would have 7 png files enclosed.
Now right click on any panel, select Properties and click the Background tab. Click on Background Image and click on the box below to select one of these 7 png files.

This would install USP (Ubuntu System Panel).
Follow the instructions on the page.
To add USP to the panel, right click on a panel and select Add to Panel and from the list, add Ubuntu System Panel

Screenlets (Widgets)
Goto Applications->Accessories->Screenlets to start the Screenlets daemon. You can add any screenlet by clicking on Launch button. You may also set it to auto start on boot by checking the Auto start on Login checkbox.

Login Screen (gdm)
Using this, you can use custom gdm themes.
This is one of my favorites:
You will get
.tar.gz files from this ^^^ link.
After downloading, goto
System->Administration->Login Window
Click on
Local tab and press Add button. Find the tar package you just downloaded there and press Install.
Note: If you just downloaded the package to your desktop and you cannot find it there in the Login Window’s file selector (it would be displaying root’s desktop), just click on File System on left panel, and goto /h
to find the file.

After you set the file, click on the Avio-GDM entry to select it.
Click on the Theme drop menu and select
Selected Only. (Do this step even if it already has Selected Only on it).
If the theme does not come in the gdm, then again perform the previous step. (Seems to be a bug, dunno if it is fixed yet)
Also, select the
Background Color on the Login Window Preferences to a grayish (Code: #ACACAC) or whatever you think matches with the theme.

Lock Dialog
You can lock the screen by pressing Ctrl+Alt+L
To change this key combination, you can goto System->Preferences->Keyboard Shortcuts
To change the Unlock Dialog theme that appears, download a lock dialog from here:

Extract the file. Now press Alt+F2 and type in gksudo nautilus and press Enter. Now using the newly opened Nautilus window, copy the 4 enclosed files (inside the downloaded tar file) to /usr/share/gnome-screensaver
CAUTION: gksudo nautilus will launch the File Browser with root/superuser/administrative privileges. You can harm your system by deleting any system file. You should not use this unless you know what you are doing.
Now close the root nautilus window and press Alt+F2 again, and type in
Expand apps and click on gnome-screensaver. In the right column, double click the lock_dialog_theme and change the Value to turbolence and press OK. Close the gconf-editor.

Specific operations using Ubuntu Tweak
Goto Applications->System Tools->Ubuntu Tweak to launch the application.
You may perform these actions:

1. To display Computer, Home and Trash on desktop:

Expand Desktop and click on Desktop Icons and check whichever icon you want to be on the desktop.
To add a shortcut to “Set as Wallpaper” on right click menu for pictures:
Expand System and click on Nautilus and check Nautilus with wallpaper under Nautilus Extensions and press Apply button adjacent to it.

Configuring Firestarter
You do not need an antivirus on your Ubuntu. Firestarter is a firewall configuration utility. Open firestarter and go through the simple processes to configure it.
Note: At beginning, firestarter is set to block all incoming connections to your computer. You have to click on the
Events tab of firestarter, right click on a specific connection from a specific IP address and select Allow connections to add it to the Allowed list.

Font Smoothing
Goto System->Preferences->Appearance->Fonts tab and select Subpixel Smoothing, Full hinting and RGB hinting.

Posted by Sayak
July - 7 - 2008

Here are some points that may be of importance to you:

  • Your computer may not receive files from a phone/smartphone. To send data from the phone to the computer, enable bluetooth on both phone and computer, right click on the bluetooth icon in the notification area and click on Browse Device. Select your phone from the list and press Connect. Enter a common passkey on both sides when asked to and the phone will open in a file browser in your computer.
  • You can find the USP search feature. For example, if you want to launch Text Editor, just type in text (just start typing, it will automatically be typed in the search box), and press Enter.
  • If you do not have a bluetooth device, then goto System->Administration->Services. Press Unlock button and enter your password. Uncheck Bluetooth device management (bluetooth) from the list and close the Services window.
  • You may include a delete command for files that would bypass the trash. Open any Nautilus window, goto Edit->Preferences. Click on Behavior tab and check Include a delete command that bypasses trash.
  • Whenever you install any package, do remember to do: sudo apt-get autoremove ; sudo apt-get autoclean and sudo localepurge in the terminal to clean-up junk files.
  • You may find this handy:
  • Register on and post any queries you have. This is me on : Feel free to PM me. But kindly do not PM help/problem/troubleshooting requests. Posts all your problems in the appropriate section of the forums.
Feel the power of customization with Ubuntu.

May the Ubuntu be with You!
Sayak Banerjee


About Me

A son, brother and friend. Enjoys scripting and making small bits of apps here and there. Wants to conquer the world (well, who doesnt). A geek who has an obsession for ponies. Loves acoustic and wants to play guitar sitting on the Hollywood hill one day!

A Word About KDE

KDE is a versatile software compilation for all platforms. It is an intuitive and powerful desktop environment that focuses on finding innovative solutions to old and new problems, and creating a vibrant, open atmosphere for experimentation.