How to Use Auto-CPUFreq to Squeeze Battery Life In Linux Laptops

Autocpufreq Battery

It’s no secret that the day-to-day use of a laptop is ultimately governed by its battery. Everything you do, from watching a video to opening your browser, sucks a certain amount of juice from your device. That juice will run out at some point, so the rule of the game is to delay that moment as much as possible.

Unfortunately, Linux doesn’t quite cooperate with you. Although many distributions have made strides in terms of battery efficiency, they don’t make the best use of what your CPU can do to give you the most productive experience.

There is, however, one application that quietly pulls the little levers in your machine to make sure the CPU is never running too hot for its current demand. It’s fair to say that if you’re a laptop user on Linux hoping to extend your battery life as much as possible, auto-cpufreq is a dream come true.

How It Works

Rather than running constant surveillance on your CPU, auto-cpufreq works seamlessly with the Linux kernel to make small adjustments here and there as you use your laptop. It solves a simple issue where most popular consumer-oriented Linux distributions put as much pressure on your system when it’s running on battery as they would if it were plugged in.

Autocpufreq Chip

You may have a favorite tool that already does this for you, but it likely fails to make use of proprietary peak performance technologies like Intel’s Turbo Boost, a common feature in many laptops over the last few generations. Auto-cpufreq takes these features into account and makes use of them when appropriate, leading to high performance when you need it the most.

More importantly, it also doesn’t interfere with the tools you already use to monitor your system.

Installing Auto-cpufreq

There are two ways to install auto-cpufreq: using the Snap store and grabbing it from GitHub.

Install auto-cpufreq via Snap

You’ll obviously need to first get a hold of snap. Depending on your Linux distribution, you may already have it. For a detailed guide on snap installation, check out our piece showing you how to do this on various Linux distributions. If you’re using Linux Mint, just follow the steps for Debian and remember that snap is blocked there, so you’ll have to type sudo rm /etc/apt/preferences.d/nosnap.pref into your terminal before you begin.

Once that’s done, go ahead and install auto-cpufreq via snap:

That’s it! It should install without a hitch.

Install auto-cpufreq via GitHub

Chances are you will already have git out of the box in your distro, but if you don’t, just follow our guide on git for Linux.

Once you’ve sorted that out, acquire the package:

After it’s downloaded, run the installer:

You should now have auto-cpufreq installed in your system.

How to Use Auto-Cpufreq

Now that you’ve got auto-cpufreq, it’s time to test it to see if it doesn’t cause issues with your system. The application has a “test mode” that you can use just for this occasion.

Once you’ve executed this command, you’ll see information about your CPU and its performance updated every few seconds while the application runs. Keep the terminal in the background and use your laptop as you would normally. This testing period should let you see if there are any major issues with how the application acts with your particular system.

Autocpufreq Monitoring

If you decide to keep it, it’s now time to install the daemon that will run it alongside your operating system as a service:

Now that it’s fully installed, it’s time to see if the installation’s working correctly. Reboot Linux, and once you’re back in, if you got the application from snap, run:

If you got it directly from GitHub, run:

Autocpufreq Status

Should you decide to install the service, auto-cpufreq will now quietly run in the background at all times. You can always check its status by typing:

There’s More You Can Do

It’s important to keep in mind that Linux’s notoriously poor CPU clock management isn’t always the culprit draining your battery. Applications running on your system may just have moments when they’re greedy.

If you want to keep an eye out for what you should get rid of to optimize your battery life, check out our guide on using PowerTOP as a monitoring suite that sniffs out the biggest gourmands on your laptop’s precious power.

Do you have more tricks of the trade that would help others squeeze more longevity from your notebook’s precious milliamp-hours? Feel free to share them in the comments!

Miguel Leiva-Gomez Miguel Leiva-Gomez

Miguel has been a business growth and technology expert for more than a decade and has written software for even longer. From his little castle in Romania, he presents cold and analytical perspectives to things that affect the tech world.

3 comments

  1. Is there a real advantage over tlp or laptop-mode-tools, or is this just a different program that does the same thing?

    The biggest savers I have found are to disable WIFI when not using the Internet (i.e. word processing, graphic manipulation, or music editing). The other is not to have Bluetooth enabled by default, it is using power every second if you do, and is a waste if not actually using Bluetooth.

    1. Hey! TLP does not account for turbo boost out of the box. I’ve noticed after a few hours of testing that Auto-Cpufreq also manages the governor more “cleanly”.

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