April 18, 2014

5 Linux Speed Tips

Quick Launchers, File Manager Shortcuts

  • February 1, 2010
  • By Carla Schroder
There are many ways to do the same tasks in Linux, which is a lovely thing because it means we can tailor our workflows to suit our own personal needs. Efficiency and speed are important; I have better things to do that waste my workday doing everything the hard way.

My personal work habits are a blend of command-line and GUI. Here are five of my favorite Linux speed tips.

Alt+F2, Run Command Quick launchers

Both Gnome and KDE have a quick launcher. Instead of wandering through the system menu, just press Alt+F2, type in the application name, and there it is. In KDE3.5 it has a wealth of useful options, as Figure 1 shows, especially "run as root" which I use a lot.

figure 1
figure 1

KDE 3.5 goes one step better and has a "Run Command" launcher that sits right in the panel (Figure 2.)

figure 2
figure 2

For me this is a nice timesaver, just type in the application name or select it from the history, boom done.

Another fast way to open an application as root is to use kdesu (KDE) or gksu (Gnome). Use these in a terminal or a quicklauncher, like this:

$ kdesu kate
A dialogue will appear asking for your root password, like Figure 3.

figure 3
figure 3

This requires a real separate root account, rather than a sudo account like Ubuntu's default. If you prefer using sudo, then try gksudo [commandname].

KDE4 Kickoff Menu Shortcuts

KDE4's new Kickoff Menu has a number of good shortcuts. There is a search bar at the top, a Favorites tab, and a Recently Used tab that includes both applications and documents. Adding an application to Favorites is as easy as falling over: find it in the Applications tab, then right-click and select Add to Favorites.

Dolphin File Manager Shortcuts

The Dolphin file manager in KDE seems to have taken some inspiration from Nautilus, the Gnome file manager. My favorite feature, among many, is the Places tab (Figure 4). One of the biggest hassles with computers is navigating filesystems. The more files you have, the harder it is to find things. I'm riding herd on thousands of data files on multiple hard disks and multiple computers. The Places tab is a real lifesaver. For example, when I'm working on a book I have it organized into multiple directories for chapters and images. So I create entries (which are plain old symlinks) on the Places tab for my current day's work. Then when I'm ready to move on to a new chapter, I delete the old Places links and create new ones.

Another KDE feature I like a lot is the little "clear this field" button. This used to be applied only to the URL bar in Konqueror, which was awesome--one click to clear, then middle-button paste in a new URL. Now this button is showing up everywhere, including fields in Web forms.

In Figure 4 Dolphin is in split-view.

figure 4
figure 4

I use this a lot to move files between a remote PC and the local PC via SSHFS. The remote PC is down the hall in the computer room, and the local PC is my laptop. I don't want to be cooped up in the same room all day every day!

Notice how a USB stick automatically appears in Dolphin Places ("Debian Inst"), and right-clicking brings up a "Safely Remove" option, so you don't have to leave Dolphin to remove it.

The more the computer does the work, and the more ways there are to tailor it to do what I want, the more I like it!

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