Have Beagle find and fetch your information faster than you thought possible.
One of Linux's weaker points as a desktop OS has been the lack of a search feature. Nautilus has had a "find this file" function for quite some time, but it's really not much more sophisticated than a GUI wrapper around the command-line find command. Both Nautilus and the find command do similar things: they'll look at each and every file in the directory structure, trying to find a match for the criteria you've given them.
There is a better way to search a filesystem. It involves creating an index of all the files on that filesystem, which enables you to search the index much like you would a database. This is what Windows and Mac OS X do for their file-search capabilities, and now Linux has it too in the form of Beagle, a modular search engine that's written in Mono. It's easy to add Beagle to Ubuntu, and the usability benefits are tremendous.
In this hack, you'll be installing Beagle and a very cool search frontend known as deskbar-applet. deskbar-applet sits in your GNOME panel and enables all manner of search goodness for you. As with many optional goodies, you'll need to have the universe repository enabled [Hack #60] to install both of these packages. Now, open up a terminal [Hack #13] and install beagle and deskbar-applet:
sudo aptitude install beagle deskbar-applet
Once you've got beagle and deskbar-applet installed, ...