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Five tips that help you speed up any Linux computer

If you love to play games, you need to squeeze as much performance out of your Linux based computer as possible. Fortunately, it is easy to do so. Read this quick guide to discover five little known tips.

1. Boost wireless signal strength

Most of us play online games, right? Then, to minimize latency, you should use a wired Internet connection. However, this may not always be possible, especially for people who use their laptops as gaming machines, and don't want to sacrifice their portability.

Still, you can quickly boost wifi range, and thus significantly improve your gaming experience, by adding a $20 external antenna to the laptop. You will also need an adapter like this, but it's only going to cost a few dollars. The process is easier than you think; here's a guide that will help.

2. Trim the GRUB

Most people install several Linux distros on their computers. Some of them will even install Windows alongside Ubuntu, for example, and that is okay. However, a dual (or multiple) boot setting will trigger the GRUB bootloader, which can increase boot time by up to 30 seconds.

To fix this problem, open the grub file in your favorite text editor, and then set the GRUB_TIMEOUT variable to 5 for five seconds, etc. Or, set it to zero to disable the countdown for good.

3. Clean up the startup list

As you can probably tell, the bigger your application startup list, the slower your computer's speed. Not to mention that most of those apps will stay in the computer memory at all times, diminishing its free memory resources.

If you use Ubuntu, you are already familiar with its user friendly "Startup Applications" tool. Fire it up, and then remove all the apps that aren't needed. "Personal File Sharing" isn't used by most people, for example; I am sure that you can find several programs that don't need to be executed each and every time you start your computer.

4. Patch the kernel

This solution is a bit more extreme, I know.  However, several Linux enthusiasts have built programs that make the entire process a breeze.

My favorite kernel optimization package is Kolivas' patchset. Give it a try and I guarantee that your computer will feel much snappier after you run the patch.  

5. Use lightweight Linux apps

Aren't you glad to know that there are lots of applications that do similar jobs in the Linux universe? This allows us to pick the ones that are perfect for the job, without using more resources than needed.

So, start testing applications that have been built for slower machines. They may not look that pretty, but they'll help free CPU and memory resources, leaving more of them for your favorite games. You could use XDM as your display manager, for example. KDM is a bit nicer, I agree, but it needs much more RAM.

If you want to squeeze every drop of performance out of your PC, you could even switch to a lightweight distro such as Puppy Linux. Its size is around 300 MB, so you'll save quite a bit of hard drive space as well.

I hope that you like these tips. They are guaranteed to work, and they'll surely improve your gaming experience.