How To: Make Google Chrome Use Less RAM (And Other Browsers)

In today’s article, we’re going to explore one way to make Google Chrome use less RAM. This is also useful for other browsers and will reduce CPU usage as well. This will be a shorter article (I was wrong), outside of the norm for the articles I tend to write.

Though, to be fair, the efficacy of this depends a great deal on how you use your browser. If you’re a light browser user, this probably isn’t the article for you. Otherwise, if  you’re anything like me, read on!

See, right this very minute, I have 108 open tabs in this browser. On top of that, I have three browser instances open. I do different things in different browsers, as a way to both organize myself and to keep things compartmentalized. Even with gobs of RAM, the browsers consume a ton of resources.

While I do make use of bookmarks, I also have a lot of open tabs that I return to with some regularity. Eventually, you’ll have to restart Chrome, assuming you also don’t reboot as often as I do. Browsers just consume more and more resources, ’cause the concept of a simple webpage is gone as everyone uses the latest libraries and insists on being interactive.

This increasing resource usage equally true with Firefox, Chromium, Opera, Brave, etc… If you have enough tabs open, it’s gonna consume a bunch of resources, continuing to use more as time passes. This can lead to a system, or just browser instance, that slows down or even becomes unresponsive. It can even cause the system to freeze entirely.

Well, if you try this one simple trick (Ha! I crack me up!) then you can probably resolve this issue. This article will tell you how!

Make Google Chrome Use Less RAM:

For once, you don’t have to open a terminal for this article!

Instead, crack open Google Chrome – or any other major browser. This works for most of the popular browsers. As long as it’s in the Chrome or Firefox family, you should be able to use this extension.

I guess I should call this a review. It kinda is. 

As I was saying in the intro, my browsers were consuming too many resources. They’d chew up RAM, sometimes chew up CPU, and generally take more resources than I felt they needed to.

I knew what I wanted to do, so I went looking for a browser extension that’d let me do what I wanted. I tried a few extensions that did what I wanted, but settled on the add-on/extension called “Auto Tab Discard“. 

Auto Tab Discard is available for both Google Chrome and Firefox. What it does is, after a certain amount of time (which you set) it ‘discards’ tabs. This is handier than you might think!

Auto Tab Discard unloads unused tabs from memory, reducing RAM consumption by an immeasurable (but about 60% in my case) amount – as well as reducing CPU usage, though CPU usage is usually pretty minimal for non-interactive tabs that aren’t currently open.

You can set the time for this, meaning you can make Auto Tab Discard discard tabs after being inactive for 15 minutes, for example. If this was a blanket statement, then the browser extension would be pretty useless – but it’s not. After all, you probably don’t want all tabs to be automatically discarded.

To that end, you can also set certain tabs to never be discarded. You basically whitelist the domain and those tabs will not be discarded automatically with Auto Tab Discard. On top of that, and this is moderately important, you can tell Auto Tab Discard to *not* discard tabs that have audio or video playing.

For example, you can load up a YouTube playlist and let it run in the background and Auto Tab Discard will let it remain resident in memory. This also works for tabs just playing audio. As near as I can tell, this feature works fine – and I’ve been using the extension for well over a month now.

That’s how I use Auto Tab Discard. You can also manually choose to discard a tab. If you need to, you can even tell Auto Tab Discard to discard everything but the current tab. You can note discarded tabs by the ‘zz’ in the changed tab title. There are a ton of options that let you customize Auto Tab Discard for yourself. Click on the extension’s icon to see a bunch of other options for Auto Tab Discard.

Hands down, this is the best extension I could find that would make Google Chrome use less RAM and CPU. As a bonus, it’s also available for Firefox!

Bonus:

While doing all this testing, I decided to solve another problem. Any time I’d open a YouTube tab, even by mistake, it would automatically start playing the video. That was really annoying – especially as I was now discarding those tabs and they’d automatically load when I clicked on a tab by mistake.

For this problem, and I have a lot of YouTube tabs open, I managed to find “Stop Autoplay For YouTube“. I only make use of the version for Google Chrome, but I’m sure something exists for Firefox. For some reason, it doesn’t seem to always work, but it works often enough for me. It’s still annoying, but far less often.

I just haven’t trialed anything in Firefox because Firefox isn’t one of my favorite browsers. Because of this, I’m reluctant to recommend any specific extension. I’m sure there’s a browser add-on for Firefox that will stop YouTube from autoplaying videos. If you do find a good one, feel free to recommend it as a comment.

But, for Google Chrome (and Chromium, of course) I find the Stop Autoplay For YouTube to be a handy extension, doing useful things. If your browsing habits are anything like mine, you too might find it useful. If you don’t have 20 YouTube tabs open (technically actually discarded with Auto Tab Discard) like I do, you’ll find it helpful when you mis-click and a YouTube video starts playing automatically.

Closure:

Well, that was a different article. Today’s article is going to be useful to a subset of people, some of whom will be using operating systems other than Linux. Hopefully more people will learn how to make Google Chrome use less RAM, even if they’re using Windows or a Mac. You can even use Auto Tab Discard in the Microsoft Bing browser, for that tiny subset of users who do use that browser on Linux.

Automatically discarding tabs makes computing so much nicer and it means I don’t have to change my ways all that much. I just let tabs get discarded and that means my RAM usage is a whole lot less than it used to be. The browsers accounted for well over 60% of my RAM.

So, if you’re anything like me, this will help you reduce the resources used by your browsers. And, if you’re anything like my, at least 90% of your computing time will be spent in your browser.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Learn How To Change The Open File Limit In Linux

Today, lacking anything better to do, we’re going to learn how to change the open file limit in Linux. Why would you want to do this? Buggered if I know! But, I’m gonna tell you how! (You’re welcome!)

Actually, you could be working with many files and want to increase the number of files that can be open at one time. You might also want the opposite, as a way of limiting system resources.

Basically, in Linux, anything that can use resources has some sort of limitation. For example, there’s a limit to how many arguments that can be passed in a single command or for a new process. You’re unlikely to bump into that limit as a regular desktop Linux user, but that limit is there.

Heck, if you want to learn more about that, click this. I’m not entirely sure how to change that value, but it might actually be in some notes somewhere. Someone’s gotta know how.

Again, you’re very unlikely to run into problems as regular ol’ desktop Linux user. Realistically, you’re unlikely to have to change the open file limit in Linux. However, today is the day I tell you how! Why? ‘Cause I ain’t scared – and it’s not my computer that you’re mucking about in!

I should also mention, more to remind you gentlefolk, that everything in Linux is a file. Everything… So, you’d be surprised how many files you have open at times. Even then, you still probably don’t have too much of a need to change the open file limit.

Change The Open File Limit:

Like many articles, this one requires an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal open, now is a good time to tell you that there’s a hard limit and a soft limit. The hard limit can only be changed by root and the soft limit can be altered dynamically by the process.

You can learn those limits. To find the hard limit, use this command:

And, to find the soft limit, use this command:

Those commands will output the value of your hard and soft limits, respectively. 

You can obviously change those limits, else this wouldn’t be an article. To change the open file limit, you just add a new value as an additional argument. It’s something like:

And, again for the soft limit:

For example, you might increase the hard limit with a command like so:

If  you want to make them permanent changes, you can do that. It’s a little different for the hard limit and the soft limit. So, to make them permanent we need to use nano to do some file editing:

And add this line:

If you want to change the soft limit, it’s a little different. It’s just:

If it’s not obvious, replace the username with your username (and no brackets, of course). Then, of course, you’ll need to save the file. To do that, just press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER and that’ll save the file properly.

You shouldn’t need to reboot. The changes should be immediate and you can run the above commands to verify this. If the changes somehow didn’t take effect, reboot and  you should be good to go.

Closure:

I’ve never really needed to change the open file limit as a desktop Linux user, but you might have a reason to do so. If that’s the case, it makes sense to have this information handy, and now you do.

It’s yet another article in a long, long list of articles – a list that’s growing steadily! I have yet to miss a single publication date, though I feel compelled to do so – as it’d take the pressure off knowing that I no longer have a “perfect” record.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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How To: Adjust Swappiness

In today’s article, we’re going to learn how to adjust swappiness. It’s something you might want to do, as many don’t like the initial value set by the developers. It’s relatively easy.

I’ve written about swap before. I think you’ll find the best information in my recent article telling you how to remove a swap file. In that article, I tell you why I still use a swap file – even when I have lots of RAM available.

The reason for that boils down to how a swap file isn’t just some place that the kernel sticks things when you’re out of RAM. It has other uses as well. I figure I’m not smarter than the kernel and evidence tells me that the kernel uses swap even when there’s all sorts of RAM available. So, I use a swap file (not a swap partition these days). You might also want one if you plan on using advanced power management features like hibernation or sleep.

Anyhow, one of the only settings you can change regarding swap is the ‘swappiness’ value. That setting is basically how aggressively the kernel will use swap. The higher the number, the more the kernel will use swap. The lower the number, the less the kernel will use swap. It’s pretty basic in theory.

I don’t actually normally adjust the swappiness value. It works just fine at the default setting, so it doesn’t seem to me like I need to adjust it. Other people adjust it, and that’s fine. Either way, I’m going to tell you how to adjust the swappiness value. You do what you gotta do.

Adjust Swappiness:

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal open, let’s see what value swappiness is set at before we decide to adjust swappiness. Enter the following command:

The default is usually 60, at least in the Ubuntu world, and some folks think that’s too aggressive. That value is easy enough to change. But, what I’d suggest doing is adjusting the value temporarily so that you can see what happens when you adjust swappiness. To set the value temporarily, you can just use this command:

Adjust the ’30’ to any number you want between 0 and 100. Both extremes are likely bad, but I’ve used values as low as 10. You could even set it to 0, which should stop the kernel from swapping anything.

Once you find a swappiness value you like, you can make it a permanent change to your system. That’s pretty easy. You just:

Add the following lines of text:

Use your own value if it’s not 30 and save the file. To save a file in nano, press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER.

You can then reboot, or just wait until your next reboot, and the new swappiness value will be used. If you don’t feel like rebooting immediately, just adjust it temporarily and reboot when it’s convenient for you.

Closure:

There you have it, another article! This one has you learning how to adjust swappiness to a value that you can work with. I’d encourage folks to read the linked swap file article to see why I use a swap file even when I have gobs of RAM. If nothing else, using one won’t break anything.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Let’s Disable Your Webcam

In today’s article, we’re going to show you how to disable your webcam. It’s something I’ve seen folks ask before, and something someone contacted me to ask about. While I don’t normally answer questions via email, it did seem like a good article to write.

I see this question, about how to disable your webcam, quite a lot. There are some ingenious solutions, from sliders you can stick to your laptop to just putting a piece of electrical tape over it. Some vendors have gotten in on it and include a sliding cover that you can use when the webcam is not in use.

If you’re that paranoid, you might want to look for a laptop (generally) that doesn’t have a webcam – but that can be hard to find these days. In some cases, they’ll have a red light that comes on when the webcam is in use. Of course, the truly paranoid don’t trust that. And the really, truly paranoid people know their coffee pot is spying on them!

Well, in today’s article we’re going to share how to disable your webcam. It won’t be all that difficult. It’s something a beginner could do, if they can follow directions, because we’ll be using nano. So, anyone can do this…

NOTE: I only tested this with Lubuntu. That means it should work with any Ubuntu flavor and with any derivatives of Ubuntu. It should also work up-stream and in most distros, but I can’t say that those have been tested.

Disable Your Webcam:

Like many articles, this one requires an open terminal. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

Once you have the terminal open, enter the following command:

Now, copy/paste (or type yourself) the following into that file:

The first line, the line starting with a # sign, is a ‘comment’, meaning that it’s there for you, the reader, and won’t be interpreted by the computer as an input or a command of any kind. This is pretty common and traditional. You can change that text to anything you’d like. Something short and descriptive is probably best.

Now, you’ve gotta save it. It’s nano, so it’s actually not that hard but might confuse some folks. After all, it could seem hard if you’ve never done it before, but this is how you save it with nano. You just press CTRL + X, then Y, and then ENTER Bob’s your uncle! It’ll save the file and close nano for you.

Finally, you need to reboot for the changes to take effect. The effect is permanent, more or less. If you want to undo it permanently, then just reverse the process from above. If you want to disable it temporarily, you can try this and it should work for you:

That should do it! Though you’d still have a non-working webcam the next time you rebooted your computer. If you’re going to take the time to disable your webcam, you probably want that behavior anyhow. Again, if you disable your webcam and want to truly reverse it, just remove the lines like I mentioned.

Closure:

I don’t really want to encourage people, but I won’t be terribly rude if you email me with a question. Just, you know, know that I have other things going on in my life and that I don’t actually have all the answers. I write about the things I know, the things in my notes, or the things that spring to mind when I am late with scheduling another article. Ah well, now you know how to disable your webcam.

On the other hand, you can feel free to email me questions you think I might be able to answer (Keep ’em simple!) that might make good articles. I could use your question as a bit of an intro fluffing device and then do a “Reader’s Questions” kinda thing. There’s a big difference between emailing me for support and emailing me with a question that might make a good article. There’s no pressure in the latter case, as there is no time constraints or expectations. So, feel free to do that – just don’t expect me to respond with a solution, and there might be an article that comes from it.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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Disable Bluetooth From Automatically Starting At Boot

In today’s article, we’re going to learn how to disable Bluetooth from automatically starting at boot. It’s a handy thing to know, if you’re like me and have no real use for the service.

I suppose it’d even speed your system’s boot time a trivial amount and reduce the number of running services. So, it’ll make your system a trivial amount more efficient. I just don’t care for Bluetooth so I have a way to prevent it from automatically starting in my notes. These articles are generally based on my notes, so now you’ll know.

NOTE: I should probably also mention that this is really only useful for those of you who use systemd. If you still haven’t moved to systemd, or refuse to move to systemd, then this article isn’t going to be of much use to you. You can still do this, but you’ll have to do so with your particular init system’s commands. These commands are not gonna work for you.

Even if you don’t want to disable Bluetooth from automatically starting at boot, you may want to learn how to disable other services. The process for other services is pretty much the same as it is for Bluetooth. So, you can learn something from this article if you’re new to this whole thing.

This is a nice and easy article, it shouldn’t take much time to read and understand. So then, let’s get on with it!

Disable Bluetooth From Automatically Starting At Boot:

Yeah, that’s longer than it should be. Oh well… Blame the need to optimize for keywords! I try to keep ’em shorter, but here we are…

This article requires an open terminal, like many other articles on this site. If you don’t know how to open the terminal, you can do so with your keyboard – just press CTRL + ALT + T and your default terminal should open.

With your terminal open, let’s first check the Bluetooth service status:

It may or may not be running. If it’s not running, odds are that Bluetooth isn’t set to automatically start at boot. You can ensure that it’s not set to automatically start with the following command:

Now, that’s the command you probably want. It’ll disable Bluetooth from automatically starting at boot – and it will still let the Bluetooth service start if you want it to later or if something else in the system calls for it to start. You can reboot and make sure the setting has changed, if you’d like.

On the other hand, if you ‘mask’ the service, like we did in the How To: Disable Sleep And Hibernation on Ubuntu Server article, you won’t be able to start the service at all. That’s the biggest difference between ‘disable’ and ‘mask’, in case you’re curious. Both of these options are better than manually deleting the services, ’cause you can undo the setting fairly easily. In fact, to do so with the Bluetooth service, you just:

After which, you should check the status again:

And all should be well. You can now reverse it after you’ve chosen to disable Bluetooth from automatically starting at boot. See? Pretty easy and handy information to have for other services. By the way, if you chose ‘mask’ then you’d ‘unmask’ the service, which seems like an obvious way to do it.

Closure:

See? I told you that this one would be pretty quick and easy. I’m kinda amazed that I haven’t run out of ideas for articles yet! I’m still chugging along, well after the initial year-long scope for the site. If I can do it, anyone can! I’m still very much open to guest articles, within reason.

Thanks for reading! If you want to help, or if the site has helped you, you can donate, register to help, write an article, or buy inexpensive hosting to start your own site. If you scroll down, you can sign up for the newsletter, vote for the article, and comment.

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