Linux in Government: Optimizing Desktop Performance, Part I
On a default Linux configuration, distributors provide six text-mode virtual consoles. You can access each console by pressing Ctrl+Alt+F1 through Ctrl+Alt+F6; Ctrl+Alt+F7 switches to the graphical desktop. Each virtual console consumes memory.
Virtual consoles attracted me to Linux and they are one of my favorite features. But, I don't use those consoles much. I like having an extra one so I can get to a graphic terminal if I need, but as a desktop user, I don't need six.
I edit /etc/inittab (see Figure 2) and commented out four or so of the six lines that spawn gettys. This allows me to free up more memory to use with my OpenOffice.org productivity suite, which we'll reconfigure in a few moments.
One of the major complaints that I hear is how long it takes the OpenOffice.org applications to launch. You can add a quickstart applet to GNOME by installing the program ooqstart- gnome, which may help some. However, an internal adjustment to OOo Writer can improve the entire suite's performance.
To accomplish this, you need to start the word processor, Writer. Next, you need to open the Tools drop-down menu and select options. Once you open the options box, you are ready to adjust the memory and speed up your Linux productivity suite. Let's look at Figure 3.
In the above figure, you can see that we selected the first expansion box and then clicked Memory with our mouse. This exposed the window you see in Figure 3. I changed the default values under the Graphics cache for Use for OpenOffice.org and Memory per Object. I increased the first value from 6 to 128MB. I also increased the second value from .5 to 20MB.
After clicking OK, I closed the word processor and reopened it two times. On each occasion, the application took less time to open. Under Ubuntu, I found that OO Writer opened in three seconds, and in Fedora it opened in less than six seconds. Previously, it took 30 and 26 seconds, respectively, for the word processor to launch.
Due to space limitations, we have to break this discussion of optimizations into different parts. Hopefully, the first article enables you to make improvements in your desktop's performance. Each change we make in future articles will have a cumulative effect, and soon you will see your entire Linux operating system in a new way--as a fast desktop.
Tom Adelstein works as an Analyst with Hiser+Adelstein, headquartered in New York City. He's the co-author of the book Exploring the JDS Linux Desktop and author of an upcoming book on Linux system administration, to be published by O'Reilly and Associates. Tom has been consulting and writing articles and books about Linux since early 1999.
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