Enabling Laptop Mode in Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great operating system, but like most Linux-based systems, it has battery life issues. Ubuntu is probably the best with a laptop’s battery, but that’s not saying much. If you’re used to using Windows and have recently switched over to Ubuntu, you will probably notice a drop in battery life.

Why does this happen? Ubuntu is a dynamic entity. It’s got a lot of features, options and drivers packed in. It can support pretty much everything out of the box. Laptop mode and other power saving options for laptops are not enabled due to this fact.

Maybe one day Canonical will have Ubuntu for Laptops and Ubuntu for Desktops (which would solve this issue). Until that happens, we’ve created a simple guide that will tell you all about laptop mode and how to enable it.

Laptop mode is a pretty handy program. It allows you to tell Ubuntu that you are using a computer that mostly runs on battery. It has a bunch of different options specifically created to optimize your power usage.

Before laptop mode can be enabled, a program needs to be installed. We’ll be using this PPA because it provides quicker updates. Open up a terminal window and enter the following commands.

enabling-laptop-mode-installing

Once installed, we can start configuring with laptop-mode-tools. Launch the GUI tool by entering this command into a terminal window.

enabling-laptop-mode-lmt-config-gui-tool

Inside the GUI window, you’ll notice a ton of options. Go through the list and check the boxes you think fit.  When you find the modules that you want to enable, press the OK button to save it. Doing so will apply your newly selected settings.

Try doing some some experimentation. For example: maybe enable a couple modules, run out your battery and then try a different configuration. Play around until you find the best way to stretch out your battery life.

Laptop mode tools mostly do everything you’ll need to save battery, but just in case you want to get even more out of your battery, the Ubuntu wiki has you covered. Follow this link and check out some other ways you can improve battery usage.

Battery life has always been a huge issue with Linux. It’s one of the main failings of an otherwise great operating system. By default, Ubuntu’s battery life isn’t much better than other Linux distros. Every year, Laptops get bigger and better batteries, but because of poor optimization, most batteries go to waste.

It is true that not all laptops running Ubuntu have completely terrible battery life. Some users may not even need to follow this guide, and if that’s true, that’s great! However, a huge majority of Ubuntu users with laptops don’t exactly have great luck. That’s why it’s great that programs like Laptop Mode Tools exist. It makes it super easy to optimize your laptop and improve power usage.

In the comments below, let us know what success you’ve had in reclaiming your own battery life!

5 comments

  1. install the program, then “Go through the list and check the boxes you think fit.”

    it would help if you could explain what some of these options mean!

  2. Agree with Mickey. The wiki link is nice but I’d have liked to see at least a list of the most important power-saving modules to turn on or off. Does the screenshot show a “typical” battery-extending set of options? If so, why is battery polling turned off? The graphic raises more questions than it answers.

    It seems odd that a utility so important to making Linux practical on laptops is still unstable. It seems important enough to merit closer attention by the major distros.

  3. Can this utility help me to cool (maybe even slow) down the laptop and reduce fan noise when it is connected to the power supply? My issue is a T60, most often connected to power, that runs hotter and activates the fan more frequently under Ubuntu than under Windows. I haven’t tried Laptop Mode yet, and wonder whether it would be worth trying.

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