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Chris Hoffman

Chris Hoffman is a technology writer and all-around computer geek. He's as at home using the Linux terminal as he is digging into the Windows registry. Connect with him on Google+.

Like CCleaner on Windows, BleachBit frees space by deleting unimportant files and helps maintain your privacy by deleting sensitive data. And, just like CCleaner, there’s more you can do with BleachBit than just clicking a single button.

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Use Nautilus-Actions to easily and graphically create custom context menu options for Ubuntu’s Nautilus file manager. If you don’t want to create your own, you can install Nautilus-Actions-Extra to get a package of particularly useful user-created tools.

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Like most things on Linux, the sudo command is very configurable. You can have sudo run specific commands without asking for a password, restrict specific users to only approved commands, log commands run with sudo, and more.

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Ubuntu doesn’t use a separate /home partition by default, although many Linux users prefer one. Using a separate home partition allows you to reinstall Ubuntu without losing your personal files and settings.

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If you’re a PC gamer, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with Valve’s Steam and use it regularly. Steam includes a variety of cool features that you might not notice if you’re just using it to install and launch games.

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Windows RT is a special edition of Windows 8. It runs on ARM and you’ll find it alongside Intel x86 machines in stores, but you’ll be surprised just how much Windows RT differs from the Windows you know.

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Whether you plan on using Windows 8 or not, everyone buying a PC in the future will end up with the Microsoft-driven Secure Boot feature enabled. Secure Boot prevents “unauthorized” operating systems and software from loading during the startup process.

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Some Android apps on Google Play claim to be incompatible with various devices. There’s a good chance that these apps will run fine on many of these devices – you can bypass this check with root access.

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If you have a single wired Internet connection – say, in a hotel room – you can create an ad-hoc wireless network with Ubuntu and share the Internet connection among multiple devices. Ubuntu includes an easy, graphical setup tool.

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You’ve probably noticed that Ubuntu comes with a Public folder in your home directory. This folder isn’t shared by default, but you can easily set up several different types of file-sharing to easily share files on your local network.

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Access an encrypted home directory when you’re not logged in – say, from a live CD – and all you’ll see is a README file. You’ll need a terminal command to recover your encrypted files.

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Steam is generally pretty stable, but every now and then you’ll run into a problem. This guide gives solutions to common problems you’ll encounter in Steam, from games crashing or not working properly to Steam failing to launch.

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Ubuntu offers to encrypt your home directory during installation. The encryption has some drawbacks – there’s a performance penalty and recovering your files is more difficult. If you change your mind later, you can remove the encryption without reinstalling Ubuntu.

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Ubuntu offers to encrypt your home folder during installation. If you decline the encryption and change your mind later, you don’t have to reinstall Ubuntu. You can activate the encryption with a few terminal commands.

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Ubuntu can quickly encrypt USB flash drives and external hard drives. You’ll be prompted for your passphrase each time you connect the drive to your computer – your private data will be secure, even if you misplace the drive.

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Android forces you to agree to every permission an app wants, assuming you want to use the app. After rooting your device, you can manage permissions on a per-app basis.

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Ubuntu is pretty snappy out-of-the-box, but there are some ways to take better advantage of your system’s memory and speed up the boot process. Some of these tips can really speed things up, especially on older hardware.

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Whether you’re typing an email in your browser or writing in a word processor, there are convenient keyboard shortcuts usable in almost every application. You can copy, select, or delete entire words or paragraphs with just a few key presses.

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If you’re constantly adjusting your computer’s volume while you watch videos or play music, there’s a better way. You can set a consistent volume level, either Windows-wide or in a specific program like VLC or your music player.

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You’ve probably heard that you need to overwrite a drive multiple times to make the data unrecoverable. Many disk-wiping utilities offer multiple-pass wipes. This is an urban legend – you only need to wipe a drive once.

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Manufacturers and carriers often load Android phones with their own apps. If you don’t use them, they just clutter your system and sometimes in the background, draining resources. Take control of your device and stop the bloatware.

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Some forms of tracking are obvious – for example, websites know who you are if you’re logged in. But how do tracking networks build up profiles of your browsing activity across multiple websites over time?

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You’ve probably heard of people “rooting” their Android phones. If you’ve ever wondered how to do that yourself – or wondered why people would bother – you’re in luck. You can root your Android in just a few minutes.

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If you’re a Linux user, you’ve probably heard that you don’t need to defragment your Linux file systems. You’ll also notice that Linux distributions don’t come with disk-defragmenting utilities. But why is that?

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Ubuntu includes its own firewall, known as ufw – short for “uncomplicated firewall.” Ufw is an easier-to-use frontend for the standard Linux iptables commands. You can even control ufw from a graphical interface.

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