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Why Is Linux Notebook Battery Life Still Poor?

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the have-seen-the-same dept.

Power 907

Ganty writes "I recently purchased a Lenovo W500 notebook, and after 'downgrading' to XP and creating a dual partition, I found that I had a battery life of nearly three hours using the long-life battery, at this point I was a happy camper because it means that I can watch a DVD during a flight. I then tried various Linux distributions and found the battery life under FOS to be very disappointing, with an average of 45 minutes before a warning message. After settling on Ubuntu I then spent three days trying various hardware tweaks but I only managed to increase the battery life to one and a half hours. Unwanted services have been disabled, laptop mode has been enabled, the dual core CPU reduces speed when idle and the hard drive spins down when not needed. Obviously Apple with their X86 hardware and BSD based OS have got it right because the MacBooks last for hours, and a stock install of MS Windows XP gives me three hours of life. Why is battery life on notebooks so poor when using Linux? Some have suggested disabling various hardware items such as bluetooth and running the screen at half brightness but XP doesn't require me to do this and still gives a reasonable battery life."

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Well duh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187825)

Because linux is fucking terrible for desktop use.

Now ditch XP and put Windows 7 on that bitch!

Poor choice for screensaver? (3, Insightful)

Alzheimers (467217) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187831)

Is your screensaver running SETI?

Probably not a good idea if you want to conserve battery life.

Re:Poor choice for screensaver? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187955)

I've had the complete opposite experience running stock Ubuntu and Windows XP. As the World of Warcraft community would say "Obvious troll is ... Obvious". So please provide actual data (youtube videos, screenshots, your kernels .config file, all your XP tweeks you are using, etc), or this is just speculation.

Re:Poor choice for screensaver? (2, Informative)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187977)

I know the "never assume" thing in IT, but here, I do assume that

...the dual core CPU reduces speed when idle...

means that he is NOT running BOINC or other numbers-crunching software...

Re:Poor choice for screensaver? (5, Insightful)

ksatyr (1118789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188221)

Is the kernel compiled to be tickless? http://kerneltrap.org/node/6750 [kerneltrap.org]

Re:Poor choice for screensaver? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188423)

And people expect an average computer user to want to use Linux when they have to make sure their kernel is compiled right to do basic power management?

Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187849)

I have plenty of anecdotal evidence (5 laptops, 3 different people) that linux power management is really great. Maybe you just aren't doing it right?

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (4, Informative)

paleshadows (1127459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187951)

Here's some concrete evidence. Take a look at http://event.asus.com/eeepc/comparison/eeepc_comparison.htm [asus.com] in which Asus compares their different eee netbooks. Go to the battery life column and observe how, unfortunately, XP consistently outperforms Linux :(

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (4, Informative)

niiler (716140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188479)

Here's [linuxjournal.com] another relatively good explanation of why linux laptops have such poor battery life. The summary is (in order):
  • Linux does much more in the way of disk IO than Windows due to how data is written out of the page cache using pdflush
  • Those of us who run journaling file systems will have more disk IO than those who don't
  • Memory management has generally done little to no prioritization of which pages are written to disk

This is, of course a vast simplification, but it gets the point across. The linked to article also shows how to use laptop mode to address these issues and extend batterly life (although, it seems to me that there is a trade off in the ability of journaled file systems to perform correctly).

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (5, Informative)

Octorian (14086) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187953)

And I have plenty of anecdotal evidence that power management works really well with whatever OS the computer was intended to run, and is alright-to-crappy with any other OS.

My MacBook Pro runs decently in OSX, and drains quickly in WinXP.
My HP Compaq laptop runs really long in Vista, though its still alright in Linux. (haven't done a comparison, though... But Linux still whines when battery #1 is almost dead, even if I have battery #2 available, installed, and at 100%)

The crux of the problem is that Linux is *rarely* the "intended OS" for any of these platforms, so the hardware manufacturer never invests any effort to make sure Linux power management drivers work correctly on them.

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188305)

Comparing a MacBook to a PC is not really fair. Hardware specifically designed for the OS... or an OS designed specifically for the hardware... that's not a fair comparison to Windows or Linux and generic PC hardware. As far as I know, Windows does not tailor it's code to all Dell, Lenovo, Gateway, HP, and Asus laptops. Apple tailors OSX to Mac hardware. Perhaps the hardware manufacturers do, but it should be able to go both ways.

The HP Vista-Linux comparison is better.

I have not yet seen your "plenty of anecdotal evidence," I guess. :)

I think a better explanation is this: Linux's developers are not particularly interested in long battery life.

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188439)

it is perfectly fair to compare macbooks to a laptop machine, if the os being tested is the one that shipped with the laptop. They ship the device as is, their os choice is not relevant to how you should rate them for battery life

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188131)

Like the submitter, I recently installed Linux on my Laptop. Surprisingly, everything "just works" after a few apt-gets but battery life is very piss-poor compared to XP and there ain't much I can do about it. I boot to Linux to take notes in class -- and get the girlie's stinkboxes wet -- with compiz eye-candy while I can plug it in, but it's still good ol' XP for everything else.

But please do call me when Linux is done playing catch-up to '90s-era technology. And let your 3 friends with good battery life know that most people don't buy laptops to run a full-time CLI.

Yours in trolling,
-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:Do you have non anecdotal evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188345)

Yeah, my Asus Aspire one lasts for about 3 hours on a charge under Linux.

Using Linsux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187859)

If you're using Linsux on your notebook, make sure to pay your $699 license fee [slashdot.org] , you cock-smoking teabagger.

Ditch Linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187879)

And get a real operating system.

Added bonus: People will stop thinking you're a faggot.

Re:Ditch Linux (0, Offtopic)

knappe duivel (914316) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188073)

Subscribe, and get a real nickname.
Added bonus: people will stop thinking you're a coward

Re:Ditch Linux (5, Insightful)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188397)

We need a -1 TrollFeeder option

What about netbooks? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187881)

Linux is a popular choice for netbooks, where battery life is paramount. Does windows still have an advantage there?

Re:What about netbooks? (4, Interesting)

flynt (248848) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187975)

On my Samsung NC10, Windows gives me about 6.5 to 7 hours of battery life, Ubuntu about 4.5 to 5.

Re:What about netbooks? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188365)

I had 6.5 to 7 hours when the battery was new, on Arch Linux with every useless thing off (Bluetooth/WLAN).

Didn't tweak much, but I think Ubuntu keeps everything on and anyhow, Ubuntu has alot of tasks running compared to Arch (like, 200 vs 20 if you ignore kernel threads.)

XP netbooks (5, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187979)

Linux is a popular choice for netbooks, where battery life is paramount.

You mean "was", until Microsoft decided to keep Windows XP alive in the North American market for a few more years at bargain-basement prices per copy.

Re:What about netbooks? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188003)

I have a Lenovo S10 with 6-cell battery.

I dual boot with Ubuntu 9.04 and Win7

Ubuntu: 4.5 hours
Win7: 6.5 hours

It also has that "Splashtop 'Instant on'" Linux distro on it. (Which takes about as long to boot as the other two). I think that matches the Ubuntu, but I've have to reboot to verify that.

Re:What about netbooks? (4, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188117)

I get 10 hours on winxp on my eeepc, and 7.5-ish on eeebuntu.

I'd love to know what to do to optimize eeebuntu more, since that's what I need for work.

power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Insightful)

SendBot (29932) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187885)

I may sound like a jerkwad here, but why waste all that battery power watching a dvd when you could watch the divx version off local storage?

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (3, Informative)

Theolojin (102108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188023)

I may sound like a jerkwad here, but why waste all that battery power watching a dvd when you could watch the divx version off local storage?

That's not a jerkwad sort of suggestion. If one knows one is going on a flight/trip, it makes all the sense in the world to rip that video to the harddrive where battery performance is far greater than with a DVD spinning for a couple hours. I'd recommend handbrake. http://handbrake.fr/ [handbrake.fr]

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Insightful)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188087)

Go a step further - if you have enough RAM, copy the file to a RAM disk and let the disk spin down.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188143)

Go a step further - read a book.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188255)

Jerkwad.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188275)

Go a step further - write a book.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (0)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188051)

Given the HD would spin down when idle I cant see why playing a DVD would use any more power than watching a divx from HD. Either way you have a motor spinning somewhere. No actual figures to back this up but also I'm guessing divx decoding might be more CPU intensivethan decoding mpeg2 (DVD) too (so the CPU consumes more power).

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (1)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188159)

HD's use far less power than optical drives.

On the decode, most mainline CPU's can decode a DVD (or divx or xvid) in realtime while running at the lowest p-state, so the difference isn't that big. Likewise, on Atom it doesn't really matter since the CPU uses so little power no matter what you do.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (4, Insightful)

athakur999 (44340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188225)

Once you the movie ripped to a file, just copy it to a flash drive (or a SD card if your notebook has a reader). Then you don't have to worry about either the DVD drive or the hard drive motor using up power (assuming you have a traditional hard drive to begin with as many netbooks use flash-based ones now).

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188077)

This is an excellent tip. Optical drives are such a power hog.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (1)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188089)

But that way, he could not do that:

...hard drive spins down when not needed...

So I guess the gain would not be that great. Also, I guess a DivX more processing power than a DVD as the compression rate is usually higher

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188121)

This post is exactly what is wrong with Linux advocates. Instead of answering the question - why does Linux die when watching DVDs where other OSes don't - the GP blames the user and suggests another, harder way to do the same thing.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (3, Interesting)

graphicsguy (710710) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188319)

True. But if the original poster had supplied a bunch of config and log files, I'll bet there would be a bunch of people here providing more relevant technical solutions. Unfortunately, performance questions that seem very general often have very case-specific answers.

Re:power saving tip: disable the optical drive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188411)

I agree with you (happy linux user here), except when you say "blames the user." He doesn't! He just says, "Sorry if I've offended, but it might be that you're ultimate problem could be solved through a different method than the one you think."

power management (0, Redundant)

virmaior (1186271) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187893)

ever heard of power management?

it's on by default in windows.

maybe you should figure out what your settings are for linux?

Re:power management (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187995)

maybe you should figure out what your settings are for linux?

The original poster tried that: "Unwanted services have been disabled, laptop mode has been enabled, the dual core CPU reduces speed when idle and the hard drive spins down when not needed."

Re:power management (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188099)

That's such a bullshit sig. Private schools dont have to figure out how to educate all the ghetto trash and have to take in every single student by law. Youre pretty much taking a select few students from a population with parents who are motivated to educate them and are willing to spend a few grand a year for this goal.

In real life, the NHS is kicking the US's ass in healthcare. Keep believing your right-wing lies. You are on the losing side of history.

Re:power management (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188477)

It's pretty funny that you assume he's a right-winger when his signature could just as easily support the idea of a public health care plan. Perhaps you should check your outrage at the door next time and try using your brain instead?

Hearing a Brit talk about the losing side of history is pretty amusing too. How's that surveillance society nanny state working out for you? Don't worry about all those rights you keep losing, you didn't need them anyway. Your friends in the Home Office will take good care of you :)

RTFM (5, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187899)

I don't know how you can expect us to fix your problems when you won't even take the time to read the documentation provided with the release.

In order to solve your problem, you need to set the RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY flag in the kernel source to "0" at compile time. Ubuntu, as well as other "desktop" distributions, set this flag to "1" by default for some reason, but simply installing the source packages and recompiling your kernel will fix the issue.

Honestly, a simple well-tailored Google search and a few measly days of sifting through the docs would have given you this answer without having to waste everyone else's time.

hah! (4, Funny)

neo (4625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187965)

He only wasted you time and informed me and about everyone else who didn't know this. Thanks eln!!

Re:RTFM (-1, Flamebait)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187985)

It always cracks me up when a Linux advocate responds to a simple question with a solution involving manually editing the kernel source of the OS and recompiling the kernel, and then turns around and gets all pissy when someone complains that Linux isn't very user friendly to non-techies.

Re:RTFM (4, Insightful)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188041)

It always cracks me up when WHOOOSH!

Re:RTFM (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188061)

... which the previous poster so eloquently ironized. Or did you in fact assume that the Linux Kernel has a RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY flag?

Re:RTFM (2, Funny)

Rhaban (987410) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188145)

it hasn't?

No... (5, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188339)

kernel developers are smarter than that, and know that would be impossible to support. The real flag is PSEUDO_RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY.

Re:RTFM (1)

FreonTrip (694097) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188091)

The joke, it has gone over your head. Do not despair - you agree with the post at heart. :)

Re:RTFM (1)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188151)

He got taken, but acording to Poe's law sometimes satire and the thing being mocked are impossible to differentiate because its adherents are so extreme.

Re:RTFM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188245)

He was obviously being facetious. RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY? REALLY?! You think that's a real compile option?

Re:RTFM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187989)

"I don't know how you can expect us to fix your problems when you won't even take the time to read the documentation provided with the release.

In order to solve your problem, you need to set the RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY flag in the kernel source to "0" at compile time. Ubuntu, as well as other "desktop" distributions, set this flag to "1" by default for some reason, but simply installing the source packages and recompiling your kernel will fix the issue.

Honestly, a simple well-tailored Google search and a few measly days of sifting through the docs would have given you this answer without having to waste everyone else's time."

No wonder everyone switches from Windows to Linux with *Elitest* support answers like this,

Re:RTFM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188271)

Sweet, I made that change on my laptop and now it's getting way better battery life.

Thanks!

Re:RTFM (2, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188391)

In order to solve your problem, you need to set the RANDOMLY_DISCHARGE_BATTERY flag in the kernel source to "0" at compile time. Ubuntu, as well as other "desktop" distributions, set this flag to "1" by default for some reason, but simply installing the source packages and recompiling your kernel will fix the issue.

Recompile the kernel? You n00b. Just add this to your rc.local file:

echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/randomly_discharge_battery

Say what? (0, Redundant)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187903)

I get about 4 hours on my notebook running ubuntu. Sounds like something isn't configured properly on your notebook, I've never had any such problems.

Re:Say what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188021)

I get 4-5 hours on Ubuntu with my new T500.

Re:Say what? (3, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188203)

And I get 7-8 hours on ubuntu with my netbook. ... but I get 10 hours in WinXP, and that's the point. We need a comparison.

A quick reminder (1)

hasbeard (982620) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187921)

The summary writer describes trying various Linux distributions and concludes that results under FOSS are poor. But FOSS comprises more than just Linux.

Drivers (5, Informative)

stei7766 (1359091) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187925)

I was able to get my X41 tablet to have good battery life (a bit better than windows actually), but it took some doing. Powertop is a godsend, it pointed me to the i915 intel drivers as the culprit. Disabling DRI made a huge difference.

Powertop (5, Informative)

Uberdog (73274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187931)

If you're running on an Intel platform, try running powertop [lesswatts.org] . I can easily gain over an hour of battery life by disabling the services it recommends and reducing the screen brightness.

Re:Powertop (1)

TheModelEskimo (968202) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188179)

Exactly what I was going to say. I ordered a Dell Ubuntu laptop and get over 4 hours of battery life on the included 9-cell (as advertised). But only if I use Powertop. Remember to run it in super-user mode...

Re:Powertop (0, Troll)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188201)

anyone who doesn't run powertop is just blindly ignorant, basically. Those are the people who post questions like in the summary.

Really, powertop let me get over 2 hours out of an Asus c90. Those things usually die in under an hour without it.

Re:Powertop (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188399)

Don't be an a-hole. There was a time when you too were ignorant about powertop.

Re:Powertop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188403)

Or, basically, using hardware not supported by the mentioned tool, you arrogant bastard.

Re:Powertop (4, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188343)

+1 powertop will also give suggestions, you can permanently configure sutff.

on my Acer i also managed to get more battery life than windows by:
switching my DE to fluxbox
not running anything in the background (except kpowersave)
turning off unused peripherals (wireless chips eat power with their scans, webcams hold charge in their CCD, etc)
using buttons/keys over mouse where possible (I think most of the touchpad drivers run in software, thus prevents the CPU reaching lower sleep levels)

I don't have that problem.... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29187943)

My out of the box Dell laptop was reformated and installed with Ubuntu and I get a little over 4 hours battery life. No complaints here.

PowerTop (1)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187971)

Have you tried PowerTop? Discussed here. [phoronix.com] I haven't tried it myself, since my linux laptop is an ancient PPC. I have noticed a somewhat short battery life on my linux laptop though. Not sure why.

Consider your hardware (5, Informative)

pantherace (165052) | more than 4 years ago | (#29187983)

This really is an issue, and hardware support varies. Your notebook seems to include an ATI graphics card. That's probably your problem. Last I looked neither the open source, nor the ATI graphics drivers supported power savings on the ATI cards. I have an Asus F8Sv, which actually gets longer battery life in Linux, about 10 minutes, even though when running Linux, I have an external hard drive connected. It's got an Nvidia Geforce 8600 graphics card, with Nvidia's drivers. (Mind you, this is with OpenGL composting enabled, under Kubuntu (both 9.04 and 9.10) The other big one is Intel cards, which are supported for most of their power management features under the driver Intel helped write.

Re:Consider your hardware (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188069)

This page [thinkwiki.org] suggests that ATI chips can be made to support at least some powersaving measures under linux. It has been several years since I've had an ATI based laptop, so I can't personally vouch for this.

Re:Consider your hardware (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188371)

Is there some sound or video processing that is being done in hardware in XP and in software on the available Linux drivers? Seems like a likely possibility with a difference between the two that's this big. Even just non-optimal code for video processing could explain it.

I have seen this on a 15" PowerBook (3, Informative)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188001)

I dragged my old 15" Powerbook (1Ghz G4) out of retirement to have a look at Ubuntu, and while this may be a totally unfair comparison since the PPC build is hardly going to be the major focus of their optimising, but the PB did run much hotter under Ubuntu than it did under 10.4, and fan control was much less precise. It's not surprising, since Apple made the thing and obviously designed OS X around all the various controllers and sensors in it and Ubuntu has to run on anything you can throw it at, but that would be what I put this down to.

I was not sufficiently experienced at the time to do much to cure it, but I did install some software that had been written to make the fan control better which did help a little to keep it cool, but I'm not sure it would last long away from the power adapter.

Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188005)

My xps1330 gets 4-6 hours of battery life. You're doing something wrong.

Just one instance of a known problem... (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188011)

This is just the same problem Noted in XKCD [xkcd.com] .

Good battery life is not cool. Open source software, especially a mutt like linux, is all about cool.

Good battery life requires annoyingly huge amounts of microoptimizations and chipset-dependent tricks. Which is most definatly NOT cool.

Re:Just one instance of a known problem... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188153)

s/cool/geeky/g

Re:Just one instance of a known problem... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188239)

Yes, open source really has a say on what goes on in companies drivers especially closed sourced ones... ::Rolls Eyes::

It simple really, many companies only do "Just Enough"(TM) to get linux workiing on a small market while focusing on performance in the much larger windows market. It only takes one bad driver to kill battery life.

Run powertop and follow the suggestions (1)

cheap.computer (1036494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188015)

You can run $sudo powertop and follow the suggestions there. Have you tried that ?

ness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188025)

Not sure what you are doing. I own a T500 with debian running on it. I easily get three hours of battery life with WLAN running and the LCD at unnecessarily high brightness level. If I disable everything I get six or more hours depending on workload...
Not sure what would happen if I tried to play a dvd, never did that without ac connection.
Oh btw, check you are using intel grafics. I recall to have read bad things about ATI card powermanagement.

I've had the opposite experience (1)

lwsimon (724555) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188027)

I use a Compaq F756NR, and get about an hour and a half in Vista, and maybe an hour fifteen in Win7. In Arch, I get a minimum of two hours. A fresh install only gets about 45 minutes - there is a power management package you have to install, and configure for how you want it to work. I've got mine set up to automatically scale up if the CPU reaches 80% load, and down once it drops below 50%.

I don't have my laptop with me, or I'd get you the package name. It's been over a year since I installed it, so I've forgotten :(

well (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188043)

Perhaps the linux developers need to write more efficient code?

powertop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188093)

Use powertop to analyze power consumption.. and try the various things specified on the following site:

  http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/How_to_reduce_power_consumption/ [thinkwiki.org]

No idea (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188103)

With recent laptops, I haven't noticed or cared, but I had a netbook before it was called a netbook -- the Sharp Actius MM10. And while I never tried it on Windows, it had one battery that supposedly lasts two and a half hours hours (that I remember lasting 3 hours), and another that supposedly lasts seven and a half hours (that I remember lasting 8-12 hours).

It's worth mentioning that I don't remember half the tweaks I did to this machine. With only a 15 gig hard drive and 256 megs of RAM, I installed Gentoo and used CFLAGS=-Os, custom-compiled my kernel complete with suspend patches and Reiser4 (practically a laptop mode all by itself), and otherwise modded it in every way known to man. I mean, I had a Fluxbox desktop with no menu, only the equivalent of alt+f2; because I didn't have any advanced power management running, I wrote my own Perl scripts to check the battery state, and to respond to ACPI events (lid closing locked it but didn't suspend, power button at various times would hibernate, or display a giant message saying "PLEASE DON'T PUSH THE POWER BUTTON, KTHNX"...

Also worth mentioning that Reiser4 wasn't the only prerelease software I used -- and it was prerelease, at the time. I backed it up frequently.

Still, I'm fairly surprised to learn that Linux battery life sucks on modern notebooks. My current machine was not built for battery life, so I've never actively run a test.

I suppose what's worse than that, though, is how much battery life sucks on modern notebooks, period, including netbooks. I admit the Transmeta chip felt sluggish, but on the other hand, can you buy any laptop today that'll run for nine hours on a charge, to where you can simply leave the power adapter plugged in at home for the day?

Re:No idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188369)

I installed Gentoo and used CFLAGS=-Os, custom-compiled my kernel complete with suspend patches and Reiser4 (practically a laptop mode all by itself), and otherwise modded it in every way known to man. I mean, I had a Fluxbox desktop with no menu, only the equivalent of alt+f2; because I didn't have any advanced power management running, I wrote my own Perl scripts to check the battery state, and to respond to ACPI events (lid closing locked it but didn't suspend, power button at various times would hibernate, or display a giant message saying "PLEASE DON'T PUSH THE POWER BUTTON, KTHNX"...

Wow. You must have to beat the ladies away with a club.

Linux is a battery drain? (1)

kamatsu (969795) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188139)

I don't use ubuntu, but for me, my Arch setup with awesomewm lasts almost 1.5 times as long as windows. YMMV.

I think it's more likely that compiz which comes with ubuntu is the culprit here.

Linux is not for laptops. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188173)

Truth is: Linux is not specifically intended to have laptops as end target, think how bad is the experience with suspend/hibernate in Linux, look how horribly bad the wireless is supported (ok, also Intel's fault, but ever tried get the wireless up and running after your basic installation of many distributions?!). Then what to say of early laptops 'burning' with Linux? And lack of support for proper FAN regulation that makes them tenfolds noisy (ok, because the vendors exchanged their fan specs just with M$ sometimes), and so forth.

In general the FOSS community seems to me more oriented to "as long as is works" and "as long as is as powerful as possible" philosophy (ok, sometimes Power Saving rules are quite much odd, too). Serously, Linux has done many steps forward, but we're not (yet) ready for the desktop, on a laptop. Your mileage may vary depending on the distribution.

Distro Choice (3, Informative)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188205)

I would like to know which version of Ubuntu he has chosen and what other distros he's done. Off the top of my head for distros I'd try:

1) Ubuntu Netbook Remix (Both Gnome and KDE)
2) Moblin
3) Puppy
4) Macpup Opera
5) Xubuntu
6) gOS
7) Damn Small Linux

Yep - either those who target netbooks or those which try to be resource friendly. If one can run on a much older system well then a newer system it should hum, plus not be such a big hit on the battery life.

Advanced Configuration and Power Interface... (4, Informative)

anss123 (985305) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188231)

Some have suggested disabling various hardware items such as bluetooth and running the screen at half brightness but XP doesn't require me to do this and still gives a reasonable battery life

Are you sure? My netbook dims the screen when I pull the power cord on both XP and Win7... though it might be the BIOS doing that.

Anyway my suggestion is checking if ACPI works as it should. AFAIK laptops are notorious for buggy ACPI implementations that are only tested with Windows. Linux now pretends to be Windows XP when doing ACPI stuff, before that they noped out some part of the BIOS to make it work with Linux but that wasn't reliable. Look into if you can change how Linux does ACPI and try that.

Re:Advanced Configuration and Power Interface... (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188393)

It isn't the bios. Windows has power settings specific to on-battery or on-wallpower. You can set the dim level for each, how long until screensaver, when to turn the cpu/hdd off, etc.

How did you configure it? (1)

IcephishCR (7031) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188241)

Perhaps you haven't configured your kernel or power settings fully even on my old Thinkpad 760 (Pentium 166) I got 50% more battery life out of Linux then Windows...

If you check your CPU freq via /proc/cpuinfo does it drop? Perhaps you are using the "performance" instead of the "Ondemand" CPU Freq governor...

no solutions? (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188247)

So it seems the posts here are telling this person to use a different method to watch the movie.

the question remains, why is Linux sucking up batteries at 2,3 times the rate of OS X and even Windows XP ?

someone has one in the thread (1)

fireylord (1074571) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188329)

http://hardware.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1347015&cid=29187931 [slashdot.org]

I'd say though, that this level of customisation of linux in order to get decent battery life in comparison with xp is a barrier to takeup. the Linux kernel dev team, and various package maintainers need to switch on to this.

Check your graphic card driver (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188273)

I've seen that the Lenovo W500 has a AMD FireGL V5700 discrete graphics card. If you use the proprietary driver from amd (fglrx), you can use aticonfig to switch on power saving for the graphic card. Otherwise it sucks too much energy.

No problem here... (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188279)

...running a fairly powerful laptop, a Dell Latitude D630 (Core2 Duo T7500 2.2GHz, 4GB RAM, Seagate Momentus 7200rpm 120GB HD, nVidia Quadro NVS135M w/256MB RAM) on Fedora 10. I regularly run it for 4-5 hours on battery.

Re:No problem here... (1)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188425)

I have a brand new Alienware m17, core 2 extreme, crossfire 4850s, and i get like an hour tops. Though, I don't use it in power save mode. Now I'm curious what I can get it to if I try... probably like an hour-fifteen :/

Firefox may be one cause (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188331)

The hackintosh community has noted that netbooks run hot with Firefox (all versions),
but stay cool when running Safari. This problem is discussed here:

http://mydellmini.com/forum/general-mac-os-x-discussion/6550-my-os-x-mini-gets-pretty-warm.html [mydellmini.com] ... but is not limited to mini9 hackintoshes. Other netbooks with heat issues run
hotter with firefox.

Perhaps firefox has a busy loop for event dispatching somewhere? I did a simple
test running down my battery, and firefox cuts it in half. (!) But that's just one data point.
Anyone know for sure?

Disable Switchable Graphics in the BIOS (1)

tamentis (1216284) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188379)

I am using a W500 on Debian right now. Because this laptop has two graphic cards and because the ATI has no open source drivers, I use the intel card on Linux. I read a lot of reports about the ATI card using a *LOT* of power. Try disabling the Switchable Graphics in the BIOS.

On my W500 Thinkpad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188427)

Battery is reporting 3 hours 20 minutes runtime. Running Fedora 10. Pretty much the same as it was when running Windows XP.

I have had the opposite results (5, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29188437)

While I can't say that my Dell laptop's power management has been piss-poor under Windows (I can't really say that I used Windows on THIS particular computer that much, but I did on previous Dell models) and the power management was pretty excellent especially when the Intel speedstep software was running. If it helps, I run Fedora and Fedora and Dell laptops have been getting along fabulously for at least the past 6 or 7 version releases.

But one thing about running Windows that has always been a complaint and that's it's estimation for "time remaining." Whether looking at file transfers or remaining battery life, Microsoft ALWAYS seems to over-estimate "time remaining" or has at least reported the most optimistic figure possible. What I'm getting at is that it is QUITE possible that the Windows battery life you are reading is either untrue or unrealistically optimistic.

I know on my Dell Mini 9 running XP and watching video on battery power initially claims I have like 3 or 4 hours battery remaining, but before the two hour movie is complete, it wants to die.

The biggest source of battery drain on my netbook is CPU processing. No doubt with my other notebook, it would be hard drive usage followed closely by processor/gpu usage. This leads me to the next suggestion when using Linux -- use the graphics driver provided by nvidia or ati. They manage power better because they have the "secrets" that the GPL drivers don't have access to. Remember that a GPU is still a processor and eats power when processing.

Power management on laptops is all about paying attention to everything that draws power and being aware of it. For example, if it generates heat, it's using power... usually lots of it and cooling systems draw even more power as a consequence. Dial that speedstep down WAY low when unplugged.

DFO Problem (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188463)

To start with, I'd guess the problem is DFO related. Dumb Fucking Operator. To be cute, he used the word 'downgraded', which is a gentle way of saying he was too ignorant to know that Visa works just fine. Ever influenced by the popular opinion of the uninformed, he installs Windows XP because he's not going to be fooled like the rest of those 'idiots'. Oh the irony.

Couldn't agree more with OP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29188471)

Couldn't agree more with OP. My GF has a aony vaio VGN-31H to be precise. Around 1h30 of battery life when watching a movie with win XP, around 45min. since she "upgraded" it to ubuntu.

I looked everywhere to find a obvious culprit but there is none. ACPI not being used properly is a hint I found, but the ACPI config files (don't remember exactly what they where) are so difficult to change without messing up that we abandonned the idea.

I will give powertop a try, it'll be nice to make this laptop run a bit cooler.

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