Are you swapped? Increase the performance of Linux machine.

With the ever increasing cost of the Hardware, the amount of physical RAM available on the system is increasing day by day. For example, couple of years back, I had a system which was very high end Desktop with 256MB RAM and today I have a 2GB RAM Desktop. So, whats the point.

The Linux systems (right word should be kernel) are desiged to use both RAM and swap partition. Swap partition is a partition on Hard disk and is used mostly like RAM. Problem is that HDD access is always slower than RAM access and hence inherently, the system will work little slower even if you have enough RAM not to use swap. The term \”swappiness\” is used to determine how the kernel should try to seam-balance between the use of RAM and swap. By default, most of the distro\’s have a swappiness of 60. A higher value of swappiness means that the RAM will be swapped out faster.

There are two ways to look at the swappiness:

1) If the user has a higher swappiness then the used memory will be swapped faster to the swap and thus free\’ing the RAM for other useful purposes.

2) A lower value of swappiness would mean that bloaty applications will not be swapped and thus when the user returns to the application, the application would load faster or rather look faster as there will be no swapping from the swap to the RAM.

I personally keep the swappiness to a value of 100 in the Desktop. But then, anyway I kill firefox as soon as I am done and restart when required.

If you see that the RAM is underutilized or feel that the system performance is not that good then you can tickle with this setting and set it to 10-15. How to do it :

Login as roo (\”su -\”)

echo 15 > /proc/sys/vm/swappiness

This will take effect immediately, but if you want to change this value permanently then you can do this(again as root):

echo \”sys.vm.swappiness = 10\” > /etc/sysctl.conf

So play with your swappiness πŸ™‚

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cairo-dock themes on server – download to local machine.

I was trying to get all the cairo-themes locally. One because sometimes the internet connection is slow and second for the fun of it. So I did the first thing that can be done, to search the internet and find out how to do it. Could not find anything in the results and thus started to search how to to it. And here it is finally:

Get the list of themes here. Once this is done, simply go to<theme-name> and download the file. Once this is done you can untar it to /usr/share/cairo-dock/themes and you are done.

Speed up gnome and change widow manager for gnome.

I have been planning to do this for quite some time now. So finally I did this today. Actually I wanted to use some features of gnome like tracker and gnome-settings and quite a few other things along with running cairo-dock and still wanted the system to use less memory and faster response. It is well known fact that gnome/kde takes a lot of memory and CPU thus wanted to run some other window manager like fluxbox or blackbox. I went with fluxbox, as that suits my needs very well, so heres what I did:

First install the window manager of your choice using yum (in my case fluxbox):

yum install fluxbox

Once this is done, follow carefully to change the window manger, a wrong step here would really create a mess for you:

run gnome-session-properties from terminal


go to Preference -> Personal -> Sessions

Here is the screenshot of the Dialogue box that pops up:


Here we will add an entry to start the window manager. Add an entry with the exec as the name of your window manager. Verify that you can execute the exec command given in the box in the terminal. In this case, you will probably get a warning that some other window manager isΒ  already running and thus the new window manager will not run. This is okay.

Now we will remove starting the panel and disable Gnome from starting the Window Manager. I know this is not the best approach, but this is the best I could do. Enter the command below in a terminal:

gconftool-2 –type string –set /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager amit

Any value here as the last argument will not matter as GNome does not honor this value. Once this is done, gnome will try to start this window manager from the list of window mangers but this will not work and hence will not start any window manager. And since we have given our window manager in the autostart in the gnome settings so our window manager will be started.

BE CAREFUL IN DOING THE STEPS ABOVE OR YOU MAY RENDER YOUR SESSION UNUSABLE. Do this at your own risk. I would try to help but cannot assure you on resolution in case you land into problems.

Ok now the speed part, before doing the changes, I was seeing my Memory usage constantly at 98% or so but with this change I am seeing it at values of 57% also and system is responding much faster. Also the CPU usage is at 9-10% with Firefox also running. I am really loving it.

Heres the screenshot of my desktop as it looks now πŸ™‚