5 essential Ubuntu optimization tips for newbies.

Most people that try Ubuntu are mostly first time Linux users. For such people, life can sometimes be very unpredictable given the mostly steep learning curve that comes with being a first time Linux user. If you are among such people, the following 5 tips should help make things a little easy and somewhat fun for you.
Beware of issuing obscure commands.
Cross check commands that you are not sure of before issuing them at the terminal. There are commands that look very innocent but can obliterate your entire system installation very easily. Whatever the command, make sure you understand it before issuing it. If you are in doubt, consult Professor Google.
As much as possible, do a clean install.
Doing a clean install of Ubuntu is always better than upgrading over the network. There are less broken packages to worry about. Your system is also likely to be properly configured when you do a clean reinstall as compared to upgrading over the network.
Use native applications.
By native applications I mean try using GNOME applications as much as possible on the GNOME desktop and vice versa for KDE. In my experience, I have realized that certain applications designed for one desktop tend to be sluggish and somewhat resource hogs on the other though they work fine.
Disable non essential processes
To further make your system even more efficient, try disabling non essential processes at start up. For instance, if you don’t use your bluetooth, there is no sense in having it run when you start up.
Beware of running as a privileged user
If you need to do something as an admin on your system, remember to drop all privileges as soon as you are done. Running as an admin on your Ubuntu box without any real reason can be a recipe for disaster.
Here are some 8 other optimization tips that you may find helpful in addition to the ones above.

3 great educational apps for Linux newbies.

One of the greatest things about Linux is that there is never a shortage of applications to meet virtually every need. Below are 3 very great educational applications that most newbie Linux users will find very useful.
This application is a cross platform flight simulator with lots of features you might not find in other similar applications. It is an open source application that  supports standard 3D model formats. Some of the features of this application include
  • Over 20,000 real world airports included in the full scenery set.
  • Correct runway markings and placement, correct runway and approach lighting.
  • Taxiways available for many larger airports (even including the green center line lights when appropriate.)
  • Sloping runways (runways change elevation like they usually do in real life.)
  • Directional airport lighting that smoothly changes intensity as your relative view direction changes.
  • World scenery fits on 3 DVD’s. (I’m not sure that’s a feature or a problem!) But it means it has a pretty detailed coverage of the entire world.
  • Accurate terrain worldwide, based on the most recently released SRTM terrain data. 3 arc second resolution (about 90m post spacing) for North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
  • Scenery includes all vmap0 lakes, rivers, roads, railroads, cities, towns, land cover, etc.
  • Nice scenery night lighting with ground lighting concentrated in urban areas (based on real maps) and headlights visible on major highways. This allows for realistic night VFR flying with the ability to spot towns and cities and follow roads.
  • Scenery tiles are paged (loaded/unloaded) in a separate thread to minimize the frame rate hit when you need to load new areas. 
This application really has an impressive array of features that will blow you away. On Ubuntu, FlightGear can be installed via the synaptic package manager and other distro users can  download and install here.
Sakai CLE
This application, according to the site, is “[a] free and open source Courseware Management System. It features a set of software tools designed to help instructors, researchers and students collaborate online in support of their work–whether it be course instruction, research or general project collaboration.
“For coursework, Sakai provides features to supplement and enhance teaching and learning. For collaboration, Sakai has tools to help organize communication and collaborative work on campus and around the world. Using a web browser, users choose from Sakai’s tools to create a site that meets their needs. To use Sakai, no knowledge of HTML is necessary.
“But the product vision reaches beyond teaching and learning applications. Many Sakai deployments include as many or more project and research collaboration sites. In addition, the Open Source Portfolio e-Portfolio system is a core part of the Sakai software. Finally, the Sakaibrary project links library resources to Sakai.”
You can find the  download instructions of Sakai  here.
This is a free Open Source mathematics software written in python. The mission of sage is to create a viable, free and open source alternative to Magma, Maple, Mathematica and Matlab.
Sage can be used to study general and advanced, pure and applied mathematics. This includes a huge range of mathematics, including algebra, calculus, elementary to very advanced number theory, cryptography, numerical computation, commutative algebra, group theory, combinatorics, graph theory, exact linear algebra and much more. It combines various software packages and seamlessly integrates their functionality into a common experience. It is well suited  for education, studying and research.  There is also a liveCD that you can directly run Sage from to get a feel of it. You can also download it for a full installation on your system.
What other application would you have loved to see on the list? Please share yours.

iFuse – Mount your Iphone/Ipod Touch on Ubuntu in 3 easy steps

iFuse is a simple app that lets you mount your Iphone or Ipod in Ubuntu and other Linux distros using the USB cable. iFuse does not require “jailbreaking” or voiding your warranty and works without needing extra software installed on the phone (such as `ssh`).
Most Ubuntu and other Linux distro users have had a hard time mounting their Apple toys on their OSs. iFuse now makes it really easy and simple. Follow the  steps below and be on your way to using your Iphone/Ipod on Ubuntu and other Linux distros.
Step 1
Open up a terminal (don’t panic, just copy and paste) and type
gksu gedit /etc/apt/sources.list to open Your sources list
Step 2
Add the following code to your sources list
deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/jonabeck/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
deb-src http://ppa.launchpad.net/jonabeck/ppa/ubuntu jaunty main
Change Jaunty to the release you are using if that’s not it. Save and exit your sources list.
Step 3
Type the following commands into the terminal again
sudo apt-key adv –recv-keys –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com F0876AC9
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ifuse and hit enter
That’s it! Now connect your Iphone or Ipod using the USB cable to your system. Open your file manager(Nautilus) and look on the left panel, you should see your device mounted there. Access your files.
You cannot manage your music database yet due to the kind of cryptic algorithm Apple uses on their toys. You can access your music folder but cannot transfer music to or from it. You can however, do all other things you are used to with your Iphone on your system. 

4 sites all new Linux users must bookmark.

More and more people are migrating to the world of Linux day by day. However, most of these new users are people who have absolutely no prior knowledge or experience with Linux and how it works. Thus, most of them end up getting frustrated at the kind of learning curve they encounter. It is in this regard that I have compiled this short list of sites that can be helpful to new users in scaling the sometimes steep learning curve they meet.
This is a site where you 
you will find collections of useful courses to help you better use the applications found on the Linux distributions. There are also forums, chatrooms, courses, and help materials at your disposal. You can enroll in courses by registering for a new account. If you are a new user, clicking on login on the top right will take you to the create a new account section. Most courses can be copied in their entirety and restored in local Moodle instances. All the courses are public and are accessible via the guest account or username and password you were assigned by the teacher or system administrator, including, possibly an enrollment key. It really is a site worth bookmarking especially for beginners.
You probably might have been used to some applications on the Windows platform and are wondering if there is an Open Source alternative available to you. This is the site you need to visit. It has a massive collection of applications that are very useful as alternatives to most of the applications on the Windows platform. It is a must visit site if you want better alternatives to commercial softwares even for Windows users. Definitely a must bookmark.
If you ever need help as a Linux user of any distro, then Linux Questions is the place to go. It has subforums for virtually all the distros out there, with a a massive community of active users that are always eager to help you in whatever way they can. Definitely a must visit site.
This site is directory of various Linux related blogs on the web. It is updated continuously and thus you can keep up to date with the various development, news, analysis, gossip and much more happening in the world of Linux and Open Source in general.
This list is by no means a complete one and people may know of better sites than the ones I have compiled here. If you are among such people, please share your list with us in the comments so we can all benefit from them . Share.