One of the beauties of a Linux system is that it is so easy to keep current. The software's free, and it tells you automatically if there are upgrades available. I probably upgrade my ubuntu hardy heron (8.04) OS every couple of days!
It's just as easy to clean, so there isn't loads of junk lying about everywhere - a problem which just kills windows machines after a while. I've had this OS since it came out (on the 4th month of 2008, hence 8.04) so I thought it was high time to have a bit of, well considering the decent run of weather we've been having here, a spring clean
First, how to upgrade and clean up the software packages. This is a crucial step for someone like me who spends a lot of time downloading and checking out new software
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade (the only thing I installed was 'replacement guidance-backends' - whatever they are!)
$ sudo apt-get clean - this removes cached packages, to free up disk space
$ sudo apt-get autoclean - this deletes partially downloaded packages and various bits of computer detritus
$ sudo apt-get -f install - this does a check for packages which might have broken whilst you tried to install them
This next bit takes much longer - it checks for 'bad blocks' on your hard drive - its like the 'disk defragmenter' tool in newer versions of Windows. Basically, it checks your disk (mine is /dev/sda1 but yours might be something else - run 'fdisk' to find out) for physical defects
$ sudo badblocks -v /dev/sda1
Now I don't know about you but I have some software which crashes a lot, or just doesn't seem to work at all. Run these commands if you're worried about malicious software or corrupt pacakges
$ sudo aptitude install debsums - this will install the necessary package 'debsums'
$ debsums - this will run the check (warning - if your computer is as full as mine, this will also take a very long time - allow an hour or so)
Linux doesn't suffer heavily from internet viruses and malware/spyware, but it is known for even linux machines to become infected and it is becoming more common. So here's how to install a firewall (on ubuntu):
$ sudo apt-get install firestarter - firestarter is a fancy interface to the more general linux 'iptables' program. To see whether your firewall is configured type sudo iptables -L into a shell. If the output doesn't have a list of rows starting with 'ACCEPT', it is not configured.
Then go to System>Administration>Firestarter - follow the options easy peasy! Make sure when it first starts to select the option, under 'Preferences', 'minimise to tray on close'
The firewall will run in the background and monitor and do what it does when you're surfing the web. To activate the firewall, type 'firestarter' into a shell before you browse
Ok - cleaned, defragmented, firewalled. And drought over! Man, that was rather professional!