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Fine-Tuning Kubuntu
Pages: 1, 2

Managing Services

It's a good idea to review system services and turn off anything you don't want. Unnecessary services consume system resources, slow down boot time, and create potential security holes. Open System Settings -> System Administration -> Services. Click on Administrator Mode and enter your password.

What if this doesn't work and it won't go into Administrator mode? This is known bug on some systems. You can get around it by using the old KDE Control Center--Alt-F2, kdesu kcontrol, System Administration -> System Services.

The first item to look at is the Run Level drop-down menu near the top. There are seven runlevels, 0 to 6. These all are different states that the computer can boot into. The Debian default is 2, so that's the one I will review. I'm not going to get deeply into runlevels, but here are a couple of quick tips:

  1. Don't mess with runlevels 0, 1, or 6 until you have attained sufficient knowledge.
  2. Runlevels 2-5 are fair game, but you can still make a big messy hash of things. Save one in its default state, like runlevel 5. Then if you gum up the others to the point of despair, enter runlevel 5 with sudo init 5. This way you'll have a functioning system until you figure out how to make repairs.

Every item that you see in the System Services menu has a corresponding start script in /etc/init.d/. Make sure to enable several services to start at boot:

  • acpi and acpi-support, power management
  • anacron, cleanup of leftover cron jobs
  • alsa, the sound system
  • cron, running scheduled jobs
  • dbus, interprocess communication
  • kdm, the login manager
  • klogd, kernel logging
  • sysklogd, system logging

You could even do away with power management and sound if you wanted to. At a minimum, be sure to start anacron, cron, dbus, kdm, and the logging daemons at boot.

Other services are optional, so start them at boot only if you know you need them:

  • atd, for scheduled batch jobs.
  • bluez-utils, for Bluetooth devices.
  • bootlogd, not necessary, as syskslogd handles bootlogs.
  • cupsys, necessary for printing.
  • evms, logical volume manager. Don't use this unless you have logical volumes configured.
  • fetchmail, but who uses fetchmail anymore?
  • hdparm, hard disk tuner. Use this at your own peril! You can break your hard drive.
  • hotplug, useful on laptops and if you have hot-plug USB devices on desktops.
  • hotplug-net, for autoconfiguring hot-plug network interface cards.
  • hplip, advanced drivers for Hewlett-Packard printers.
  • ifrename, renames network devices on the fly when you have multiple NICs.
  • ifupdown, ifupdown-clean-, to be left on or off according to how the system already has them configured.
  • linux-restricted-modules-common, supports proprietary, binary kernel modules such as Nvidia or wireless drivers. Compare the output of lsmod with /lib/linux-restricted-modules to see whether you need this.
  • lvm, another volume manager.
  • mdadm and mdadm-raid, for managing Linux software RAID.
  • networking, to be left on or off, whatever the default is.
  • ntpdate, to be left off. Run it manually for big-time corrections.
  • powernowd, variable CPU speed control. On for laptops, off for desktops and servers.
  • ppp and ppp-dns, only if you use dial-up.
  •, needed only if you use /etc/sysctl.conf.
  • rysnc, automated file transfers and backups. If you don't run rync, turn it off.
  • sudo, checks sudo status and is unnecessary.
  • udev and udev-mtab, to be left at the defaults.
  • usplash, supports splash screens in console mode.
  • vbesave, preserves video card BIOS status.

Wrapping Up

I've covered a lot of ground in a short time, and yet have barely scratched the surface. Drop me a line ( if you want more Ubuntu articles like this, and give me suggestions for topics.


The Linux Cookbook, by me. Learn how to do all kinds of Linux stuff: manage runlevels; run servers; perform package maintenance, system upgrades, and backup and recovery; share files and printers; and more.

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Carla Schroder is a self-taught Linux and Windows sysadmin and the author of the Linux Cookbook.

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