Here are a couple of performance tweaks that are nice for desktops/laptops. These tweaks are relatively easy to perform and reasonable safe. Everything you do is on your own risk.
I’ve only tested these tweaks in Ubuntu but they will probably also work on other Linux systems. Tweak #1 is gnome specific (Ubuntu uses gnome on default).
TWEAK #1 faster gnome menus
Here’s the first tweak which is to make gnome feel faster :
I am using : gtk-menu-popup-delay = 100
To take the tweak into effect you need log out (gnome). You will be at the login screen again. Now log in again.
TWEAK #2 CFQ
In Dapper and previous releases, there has been no default scheduler set at install time, thus the system defaults to the native Linux scheduler. A number of users (including this spec’s author) have encountered temporary system lockups when entering Gnome(/KDE/other wm) due to the system load. Enabling CFQ as the default scheduler fixes these lockups. Other major distributions, like Red Hat, also enable CFQ by default.
(you can use another editor than gedit)
$sudo gedit /boot/grub/menu.lst
Find the line
# defoptions=ro quiet splash
and add : elevator=cfq
The result :
# defoptions=ro quiet splash elevator=cfq
To take the tweak into effect you need to reboot.
TWEAK #3 vm.swappiness
The fourth perfomance tweak is about vm.swappiness :
More performance tweaks
HOWTO common customizations (such as multimedia) in Ubuntu Dapper which includes information about another tweak (choosing the right kernel)
You can find more performance tricks in the following thread. But be careful as most of them are for power users only and if done wrong or if you are just unlucky you might need to reinstall or you might lose important data. Only do them if you are absolutely sure that you understand what you are doing. There are some pretty risky tweaks in here :
For example I am not going to try this one as I don’t want to risk losing my data : “HOWTO: Tweak your ext3 filesystem for a performance boost”