Using Linux More Efficiently

It can be difficult to learn the best way to use Linux in an efficient manner. The is contributed by being new to the operating system as well as being new to the applications that use Linux. This is a list of hints that can possibly help you use Linux faster.

Use the virtual desktop

You may have noticed that there are four small boxes that form a rectangle on the taskbar. These boxes make up virtual desktops. If you click on one of the boxes, you'll be taken to that desktop. Alternatively, if you hold "ctrl" + "tab", you'll be able to select the desktop from the keyboard. The best way to use these virtual desktops is to let each desktop handle separate types of applications. For instance, you could let desktop one hold your email application. Desktop two could be win4lin. Desktop three could be open office. Using these desktops just helps reduce clutter. Normally you can just open an application on the virtual desktop that you want to use. If you need to send an application to a different desktop number, just select the down arrow in the very top left of the application's title. One of the choices will be "To Desktop." Just select the one that you want to use.

Select applications from the keyboard

The mouse can be very inefficient at times, especially when trying to find which application you want open. You may want to try the keyboard combination of "alt" + "tab". If you hold the "alt" key, every time you press "tab", a different application (that is currently running) will be selected. When you find the one that you want to use, just release the keys.

Use programs with MDI, that is multiple display interfaces

Some applications allow you to open multiple files without opening the application all over again. This means instead of having two windows open, you would only have one. Applications that do this are said to utilize MDI. Most of the time these applications will have tabs that allow you to select which open file you want to view or modify. You have probably seen this in Excel before. Both mozilla-firebird and konqueror allow you to do this for Web pages. (In konqueror, right click on a link and select "Open in New Tab," while in firebird just click the mouse wheel on a link.) Try other programs out to see if they have this feature. Open Office does not. Other programs accomplish this with other methods. You should try out Kate for programming tasks, or possibly Xemacs which uses multiple buffers.

How many windows should you have open?

Some users choose to have dozens of windows open at one time. There is nothing wrong with this but occasionally one can get lost. At any rate, keeping all windows maximized simultaneously is not advisable because the next window you want may be hidden (Alt-Tab will help, whether windows are minimized or not). It may be better to minimize all but the two or three most important windows. When the icons on the bottom task bar are too small to read, then perhaps it's time to close some windows.

-- ColeBeck - 07 May 2004; modifed FrankHarrell - 08 May 2004
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Topic revision: r2 - 08 May 2004, FrankHarrell

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