How to Reduce CPU Usage With Linux
By Al Bondigas
Unlike Windows, the Linux operating system is customizable so that you can run it on computers with limited system resources. Many Linux graphical user interfaces and programs are built for light weight and can make a difference with your system performance. Your choices in software and interfaces can make even a five-year-old computer run well, and may make you think twice about throwing it away. But even if you're using the latest computer, it will still run faster when you run programs that reduce your CPU usage.
Graphical User Interface
Check to see what window managers you have installed. To do this, boot the computer, wait for the login screen and go to the "Session" menu to view your options.
Select a lightweight graphical user interface: Fluxbox, Openbox, LXDE and Icewm are all light-weight and fully functional.
Log in to your computer. You will be running your lighter interface, which will reduce system resource usage considerably.
Running Lightweight Software
Inventory your software, particularly your Web browsers and word processing programs. Firefox and Open Office tend to consume system resources.
Install any replacement programs you may want: Opera or Google Chrome for browsing the Web, Abiword for word processing, and gnumeric for spreadsheets. To do this in a Debian system, open a root shell and type "apt-get install opera" without the quotes and with the name of the program you want.
Use a text editor instead of a word processor. A good text editor will do most of the same things that a word processor does while consuming fewer resources. By default, files will be saved in .txt format.
Type "htop" in a command shell without the quotes. This gives you a system monitor that allows you to see which programs are using the most resources. You can shut down processes in htop by scrolling to the offending program and hitting F9.
- Shut down any programs you are not using.
- Reduce the number of virtual work spaces you have on your computer. The more you have, the likelier you will have extra, unneeded programs running.
- Trim down the number of Firefox extensions you have running, but keep--or get--a flash blocker.
- Run fewer browser tabs when surfing the Internet. Each tab puts additional strain on system resources.
- Use caution when you're using a root terminal; you can really damage your system if you're not careful.
Al Bondigas is an award-winning newspaperman who started writing professionally in 1985. His print credits include the "Mohave Valley Daily News" and "The Mohave County Standard." Bondigas studied journalism at San Bernardino Valley College in California.