One of the many things that Linux users boast of is the better performance of the hardware in Linux as compared to Windows. Unfortunately, it has not been true in many cases. One of the major issues with the latest Ubuntu releases (11.04 and 11.10) were a dramatic decrease in the battery life along with overheating of laptops. The issue is faced by a large number of people that claimed to reduce the battery life by around 2 hours on average. Interestingly, Windows still performs better and gives greater battery life than the latest version of Ubuntu.
A lot has been discussed about the issue. Lots of bug reports has been filed but nothing conclusive came out. Ubuntu LTS (Long Term Support) versions for e.g., Ubuntu 10.10 and the upcoming 12.04 are known to perform better than Windows but it does not mean that one has to suffer from poor battery life until the LTS version 12.04 comes out. In this post we will discuss two workarounds that could help you in improving the battery performance. You can use either or both of them.
Improve battery life by using Jupiter
Jupiter is a Linux applet for display, power, and device control. It can be used to change screen resolution, screen orientation, disabling WiFi, bluetooth and touchpad, and above all, battery performance. Jupiter has 3 Performance Modes: Maximum Performance, Performance on demand and Power Saver (the one we are interested in). In Power Saver mode it underclocks the processor and hence improves the battery life.
Unfortunately, Jupiter doesn’t work by default with Ubuntu 11.10, but thanks to WebUpd8 team, we have a work around for it. Open your terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and type the following commands:
After installing it, you need to log out and login again. You can see Jupiter in your system tray on the top. You can select Power Saver mode from there. This picture could be helpful:
After you put it on power saver mode, the icon turns green. It help you in remembering what mode you are using. You can see a considerable improvement in both battery performance and over heating.
Changing the Grub configuration to improve the battery performance:
If you are not satisfied with Jupiter, you may want to use the other work around which is a Kernel tweak. It was found that battery and over heating issue is related the Linux kernel. Let’s see how to use this trick:
Open your terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and open the Grub config file by using the following command:
Now here search for this line:
Replace the above line with this one and save the file:
Update the Grub by using this command:
This fix was mainly meant for Linux Kernel 2.6.38 and the issue was “supposed” to be solved in later versions of Linux Kernel but that, unfortunately, never happened.
PowerTop can also be used instead of Jupiter but personally, I preferred Jupiter over PowerTop. I hope these tips increase the battery life and solve the overheating problem of your laptop. I sincerely hope that things will be better with Ubuntu 12.04 which is bound to release in April’12. Your questions and suggestion are always welcomed. Cheers :)
Image credit: Orange warning low battery signal by Big Stock Photo.