How to Reduce CPU Usage With Linux

By Al Bondigas

Your Linux software and interface choices can maximize CPU resources and make your computer run faster.
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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.