Make Applications Start Faster in Ubuntu

Today’s article is pretty specific as we discuss one way to make applications start faster in Ubuntu. However, I feel like I need to make you aware that this isn’t some sort of miracle software. The usage and results are pretty limited and I’m mostly covering this because it was in my notes and a question I saw recently on Reddit.

Now, for reasons, I’m not sure what format this article will take. I haven’t written it yet and the information I want to share is kinda mixed. I guess we could have a longer intro than normal.

So, the tool in question is called ‘Preload’. The man page describes Preload like this:

preload – Adaptive readahead daemon

Though I think it’s important to also quote this (also from the man page):

preload is an adaptive readahead daemon that prefetches files mapped by applications from the disk to reduce application startup time.

So, what is this Preload? It’s a daemon that runs in the background and monitors what you do. It pays attention to what applications you open (for example) and loads the various files into memory. Then, when you open the application it will open faster. This is mostly useful if you’ve opened the application, closed it, and wish to open it again. The second time you open the application, the theory is that it’ll open faster.

Does it work? I haven’t lied to you yet and I’m not going to start now. I haven’t tested it enough to claim it has any great benefits. Oh, I’ve installed it before and left it running. I just didn’t do any verification and I’m not going to cite my observations as factual without having data to back that up. I will say that I didn’t notice it slowing anything down. Of course, I have fast hardware, and using a stopwatch to test the results would be full of all sorts of inaccuracies. 

Do I recommend it? Well, it doesn’t seem to hurt anything. It does seem faster when I close Thunderbird and open it back up again. I use an NVMe M.2 SSD, which is already pretty speedy, so I doubt I’d see much. I’ve never tried with a slower SSD nor on an older spinning platter HDD – which is where I’d expect this Preload to work best. If you’re using older disks, it may be worth trying Preload. But, you won’t break anything if you install it on more modern hardware.

Make Applications Start Faster:

So, installing Preload is pretty simple. Once you’ve installed Preload, you are done. There’s no need to tinker with settings. There’s no need to configure it. It should even automatically set itself up as a self-starting daemon.

Crack open your terminal (you know how to do that by now) and enter the following to install Preload in Ubuntu:

Agree to install and enter your password. That’s it. That’s all you need to do. You can check the man page:

See? I told you this would look like a weird article.

Closure:

Have you had good luck with Preload? Have you been using it all along? Did you use it back when you were using a spinning hard drive? Did it help to make applications start faster? Let me know in a comment. I mean, it’s not snake oil, but how much could it help an average user with modern hardware? I’m not sure how much it’ll help those folks.

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Author: KGIII

Retired mathematician, residing in the mountains of Maine. I may be old and wise, but I am not infallible. Please point out any errors. And, as always, thanks again for reading.

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