Ubuntu Linux doesn’t require the latest hardware to run. It can run on fairly dated hardware but performance will vary. If you’ve just installed Ubuntu Linux and wish it ran a little faster, then read on. In this article, we’ll go over some of the reasons why your Ubuntu PC may be slow, and offer up some fool-proof solutions to speed up Ubuntu. Everything from finding lighter alternatives to programs, to switching desktop environments, increasing the swap file size, to installing proprietary drivers!
So, what are the best ways to speed up Ubuntu? Let’s find out!
1. Use Lighter Programs
Often times the programs we use on Linux on a day to day basis slow the system down. This is because as modern Linux chugs along, things get heavier, and require more resources. The developers of these Linux programs expect everyone to have really great, modern hardware which isn’t always the case. Not everyone has the hardware to support really demanding programs, and herein lies the problem.
If you find yourself on Ubuntu, and using programs that slow down your PC, find good, lighter alternatives. If you’re not interested in going through each and every Linux program on your Ubuntu PC, the best option is to use a different, more lightweight Ubuntu flavor.
Picking an Ubuntu flavor that is specially designed for your use case is the best. Check out our article on Ubuntu flavors to more easily choose a version of Ubuntu that plays nice with your hardware.
Alternatively, check out alternativeto.net. It’s a website that users can go to and quickly find alternatives to every day programs. Use it to find more lightweight programs to use on Ubuntu!
2. Buy A Faster Hard Drive
Average computer users don’t really think about the hard drive that their Linux distribution is installed on. Often times, they’ll go out buy a computer and start using it. The reality is that hard drives matter. A lot. As a matter of fact, a slow hard drive is one of the key reasons an operating system runs slow. A very quick way to speed up your Ubuntu installation is to shell out a couple dollars, get a nice SSD and put Ubuntu on it.
The reason? Solid state drives have very fast read/write speeds. This means that it’s much easier for the operating system to access existing data. As a result, loading programs, and just using the computer in general is faster.
3. Install Proprietary Drivers
Linux is an open source platform. A lot of the operating systems that build their distributions believe in using free, open source drivers rather than locked down ones. It’s also frowned upon to ship non-free drivers, which is why you generally will not find them on a Linux distribution. In most cases, this works fine. There a many great open-source implementations of drivers directly in the Linux kernel. 99 times out of 100, you won’t even notice any difference in performance and everything will work. There are however, exceptions.
If you have proprietary hardware on your system with no open source driver to use, things won’t work right. Ubuntu, as a result will run slow. To fix this, open up the system settings area of Ubuntu and search for “additional drivers”. Open this app, and the system will automatically detect any special, proprietary drivers required. After installing the drivers, reboot your system. When you log back into Ubuntu, everything will run much faster.
4. Switch To A Lightweight Desktop Environment
The default Ubuntu desktop environment is pretty great. Everything runs smooth, and looks beautiful. However, it doesn’t run smooth on low-end machines. In fact, the default Ubuntu desktop environment tends to slow down on computers with low RAM, and less powerful CPUs. To speed up your Ubuntu installation, the best course of action is to switch to a much better desktop environment, one designed for low-end machines.
Mate, Xfcce, and LXDE are desktop environments designed to work great with low-end machines. Install any one of them by following the instructions below. Start off by opening a terminal window. Then, choose what desktop environment you want to use.
Install Mate or XFCE if you have at least 512 MB of ram and a dual core CPU.
Install LXDE if you’ve got less than 256 MB of ram, and a single core CPU.
sudo apt install ubuntu-mate-desktop
sudo apt install xubuntu-desktop
sudo apt install lubuntu-desktop
5. Increase Swap Size
Every Linux operating system, including Ubuntu uses Swap. Swap acts like virtual memory, so that when the operating system runs out of physical memory things don’t lock up. If your Ubuntu PC is slowing down, it might be a good idea to do a new installation, and tell the installer to set aside more Swap during the install process. With more swap on a low-end PC, users will have more room to multi-task.
Ubuntu is a wonderful operating system with a lot of great features. Unfortunately, it doesn’t run the best out of the box on every single computer. That’s why it’s important to learn a little bit more about the system requirements Ubuntu has, and to have an expert walk you through installing it if you’re new to Linux and this operating system. That being said, once tweaked, Ubuntu runs perfect on anything.