Using Linux distributions like Ubuntu can take some getting used to. If you've switched from Windows or Mac, this can cause problems. With a choice of desktop environments, file managers, and software installation options, this can be overwhelming.
Do you think the learning curve is steep? Think again There is a lot to do with Linux, but with these Ubuntu tricks and tips you can become a power user in a few minutes.
1. Get at lightning speed from the command line
If you are using Linux, it is useful to get to know the command line app Terminal. This provides deeper access to your Linux computer if you know the right commands.
All sorts of things can be done in the terminal, e.g. Edit text files, connect to Wi-Fi, and more. While working on the command line, keyboard shortcuts can help shorten steps and save time.
Linux offers a variety of command line shortcuts. For example, you can use the up and down arrows on your keyboard to scroll through previous commands. Or use tab to complete partial commands and even file and directory names.
Our guide to the most important Linux terminal shortcuts
Save time in the Linux terminal with these 20 shortcuts
will show you more.
2. Start Ubuntu Linux applications with a keyboard shortcut
One of the best Ubuntu tips is to use the power of keyboard shortcuts.
If you click an icon with the mouse or quickly press the Super key to enter the app name, there is a faster option.
Numbers are assigned to the first nine applications in the Ubuntu launcher (by default on the left side of the desktop). You can open any of them with Super + 1 to 9. If you want to open a new window for an app that is already open, use shift next to the link.
Learn more about Linux desktop shortcuts
Save time with 20 Linux keyboard shortcuts GNOME, KDE and Unity
for GNOME, KDE and Unity.
3. Remind Ubuntu of the last session
Ubuntu can be configured to remember the applications you opened in your last session before you logged out. If you can't successfully hibernate or hibernate Ubuntu, this is a useful shortcut.
It is based on the Gnome session setting that is accessed in the dconf editor. You must install this with
Install sudo apt dconf-editor
If you choose to automatically reopen the applications, you can save time when you log in again. Although you may save a few clicks of the mouse, it may take a little longer to load the computer.
Enter in the terminal
The dconf editor is opened on the desktop. Expand org> gnome and select Gnome session. find here Auto save session In the right pane, click the check box. click X. close the window.
Test this by running your browser and logging out. When you log back in, the app should run. Pair this with a browser that supports session management to continue browsing and get the best results.
4. Create a separate Ubuntu Linux Home partition
New versions of Ubuntu appear every six months. Although you can update to the latest version using Update Manager, the upgrade sometimes does not work as expected. Therefore, it is advisable to consider reinstalling.
The disadvantage of an upgrade is that you can lose personal information from your home directory. Archiving data makes sense, but a smarter solution that avoids backing up and restoring files is a dedicated home partition.
You can create this when you install Ubuntu for the first time. The size can meet your requirements. So make sure you provide enough space for all of your files. If you want to reinstall Linux, simply specify the partition as home (use / home as the mount point).
All your files and data on the home partition are retained even after a new installation.
5. Make sure you install a full upgrade
You may know that one way to upgrade a Debian-based Linux distribution like Ubuntu is to use the upgrade command. Outside the terminal, you can simply wait for the upgrade to be released through Update Manager.
However, when you upgrade, often not everything is updated. Certain packages stay in place, usually when required for certain apps. If you want to perform a full upgrade that removes these packages, use
sudo apt full upgrade
6. Quickly end unresponsive processes
All operating systems suffer from unresponsive programs. The clever solution is to close the software and try again.
There are several ways to do this on Linux. The X is in the corner of the application window, but Ubuntu also has a Performance Monitor tool to find and end processes. The terminal can also be used to terminate unresponsive apps and processes with a selection of "kill" commands.
Read our guide to quitting unresponsive programs
7 ways to end unresponsive programs on Linux
on Linux for a look at the options.
7. Use PPAs for bleeding edge software versions
Software goes through various phases before it can be published in the main Ubuntu repositories. Tests and revisions increase stability, but you won't get the latest software unless you know where to look.
Before software is added to a repository, you can find it in Personal Package Archives (PPAs). Once a PPA address has been added to the list of Ubuntu repositories, applications can be installed from there.
However, be aware that running the latest pre-release version of an app can lead to unexpected errors. Even though PPAs are a smart option, they're not safe. Make sure you remove the PPA
Linux PPAs: installation, removal, and security
Address after installation.
8. I am root
The root account is disabled by default on Ubuntu, mainly to avoid serious errors.
Issuing the wrong command as root can have devastating consequences. For example, it is possible to accidentally delete all of your data. Confident that you won't?
A power user tip for Ubuntu is to activate root. It seems to be deleted, but it's just hidden. Enter to enable root in Ubuntu
To do this, you need to create a new password that can then be used with the root account.
Note, however, that it is safer to simply use sudo for command-level privileges. Simply enter your password when prompted.
If you have activated root and assigned a password, you can deactivate it again with
sudo passwd -l root
9. Use the latest graphics drivers
Support for the latest graphics card drivers is available for Linux. Using the right driver for your graphics card can make all the difference in graphics-intensive tasks. It doesn't matter whether you play or edit videos – the best graphics drivers are crucial.
In most cases, Linux users use drivers for the Intel graphics chip built into the motherboard. In some cases, this may be the only video chip available.
However, if the computer has an AMD or Nvidia chip or a full graphics card, suitable drivers are required.
Open source and proprietary drivers are available for cards from both manufacturers. With Ubuntu, you can easily find, select and install the best graphics drivers
How to install proprietary graphics drivers in Ubuntu, Fedora and Mint
10. Try different Ubuntu Linux desktop environments
In contrast to Windows 10 and MacOS, Linux distributions like Ubuntu offer a choice of desktop environments. These are usually available as standalone installations, although some distributions like Ubuntu can be installed with pre-installed alternate desktop environments.
For example, Ubuntu is available in different versions:
- Ubuntu Vanilla (comes with the GNOME desktop)
- Kubuntu (Ubuntu plus KDE)
- Lubuntu (Ubuntu plus LXQt)
- Ubuntu Budgie (adds the Budgie desktop)
- Ubuntu MATE (simple, classic Ubuntu desktop)
- Xubuntu (Ubuntu plus Xfce)
So you can either install a full alternative version of Ubuntu or manually add a desktop manager.
Install a new Linux desktop
The 12 best Linux desktop environments
is straightforward, but occasionally requires an additional package. For example, use to install Xfce on Ubuntu
sudo apt install xfce4
After installation, you will be asked to choose the new desktop option the next time you log in to Ubuntu.
11. Change the default file manager
Ubuntu uses the GNOME Files tool to browse files and drives on your computer. This way you can view the downloaded images or the documents you have created.
The standard file manager, also known as Nautilus, can be replaced with an alternative.
There are several alternatives available, some with faster performance and fewer features, others with additional features.
Popular alternatives to GNOME files are:
Most alternative file managers can easily run on Ubuntu.
12. Compile your own kernel
If you're looking for a weekend project, you can build a Linux kernel that is tailored to your needs.
Frankly, this is more of a learning experience. While some might argue that you can only use the features and drivers you need, this is usually not necessary. If everything works fine with the included kernel and you are not interested in changing it, you can skip this.
However, if you are determined to get your hands dirty in the kernel, check out our guide to compiling the Linux kernel
How to compile your own Linux kernel
13. Use the swap partition to improve performance
A great Ubuntu trick to improve performance is to use the swap partition. This is a memory management method for using free space as a RAM overflow. However, it can be customized and optimized to your advantage.
If your hard drive is large enough, you can expand the swappiness value and use the hard drive for memory. The result is a Linux system that works faster.
Note that hacking the Ubuntu swap partition
What is a Linux swap partition? Everything you need to know
is not an exact science and does not work on slower hard drives. There is also a risk of additional wear on your hard drive.
14. Run Windows in a virtual machine
Is Windows missing or do you have to use software that does not have a Linux version? You might be tempted to go back to the dark side, but there's an easier option: install Windows Within Linux.
This is possible thanks to virtualization. A virtual PC can be created with software such as VMware or Virtualbox. An alternative is QEMU, although this is more suitable for experienced users because it relies on a detailed command line configuration.
With a Windows virtual machine installed on Linux, you can simply turn it on and use the missing app. It runs together with other Linux apps, so you can switch to your Ubuntu desktop at any time.
15. Take Ubuntu anywhere with a live USB drive
Perhaps the best trick for Ubuntu power users is to carry the operating system in their pocket.
If a live CD is installed on a bootable USB stick, you can use Ubuntu on almost any other computer. As long as the USB port can boot live drives and the stick is suitable, Ubuntu will run in a few moments.
You can even put your favorite portable apps there for instant productivity. Read our guide on how to run Ubuntu on a live USB stick
Running Linux From A USB Drive: Are You Doing It Right?
to learn how to do that.
Become a Linux power user with these Ubuntu tricks
By now, you should have the best Ubuntu tips and hacks under control that can make you a Linux pro.
From the command line to using a different file manager to compiling your own Linux kernel, Linux distributions like Ubuntu are extremely customizable. With Linux you can do what you want – and much more.
For the ultimate customization, learn how to customize the Linux splash screen
How to customize the Ubuntu Boot Splash screen and logo
with your own picture.