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Can linux improve my battery life?

Discussion in 'Linux Compatibility and Software' started by dunkley, Mar 4, 2007.

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  1. dunkley

    dunkley Notebook Enthusiast

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    Is there a usb/cd bootable distro that can do the following?

    1) Has a word processor (can be a basic one)
    2) Has the ability to save to an external memory device (a sd card)

    I only use my notebook for taking notes in class. It would be great if I could increase the battery life by finding a distribution that minimized system resource utilization.

    I remember using Knoppix a long time ago, I am currently downloading it now, but I am open to any suggestions or answers to if it will increase my battery life or not.
     
  2. Gautam

    Gautam election 2008 NBR Reviewer

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    Every Linux distro I know of has those two aspects your are looking for. :)
    That's really a very basic requirement - I would argue that the popular distros rival any other for-pay OS, and programs such as OpenOffice.org could easily take on MS Office for features and functionality.

    I do not know about increasing your battery life, however. It really depends on what you are doing, and how performance tuned your distro is (or has been tweaked to). If you want to try out a 'bootable' distro, try one of the popular distros that has a LiveCD option. I think you will be surprised how complete Linux really is.
     
  3. BigV

    BigV Notebook Deity

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    any linux distribution will be very complete...

    but as for increasing battery life, not likely, unfortunately. There is laptop-mode-tools, which allows you to have pretty fine-grained control over harddrive spindown and CPU frequency scaling.

    Realistically, there is relatively little that a "lightweight" distro can do to improve battery life, since none of them are going to include any undervolting for the CPU with their base install. You will still have to power the backlight and harddrive, which are probably the biggest power drains in the whole PC.
     
  4. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    I've actually found that Linux will decrease my battery life, mostly because it doesn't have the same undervolting tools and such that Windows does. You might try something like RMClock to lower the voltage of your CPU (look in the hardware forum), and turn the brightness of your LCD down as low as you can handle it while using it. Those two steps will increase your battery life more than anything. Also, if your battery is more than a couple of years old, that will shorten it's life. You might consider a new one, possibly a larger one than the stock battery.
     
  5. pyro9219

    pyro9219 Notebook Deity NBR Reviewer

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    Also, don't run composite effects... those 3D desktop toys will eat your battery too (same with windows Aero)
     
  6. Gautam

    Gautam election 2008 NBR Reviewer

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    Lots of great help from our resident Linux gurus...

    Absolutely. Make sure that you can reduce your brightness when you are on battery, and also minimise optical drive usage, if you can.

    This is a good alternative. I think people forget that batteries wear out, so it may be time to get a new one as Pita says.

    Another +1 here. The composite effects are only tasking your GPU more, and will undoubtedly reduce the battery life. The effect on battery drain (rate of excess discharge) is going to change depending on if you have dedicated or integrated graphics, but overall, Beryl/Compiz is going to decrease battery life.
     
  7. dunkley

    dunkley Notebook Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the help guys
     
  8. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    No problem :) I'd suggest just booting the machine, then killing the X server. Just take notes in vi in text mode... that'll save all kinds of battery :p

    If you haven't removed Windows, I've also found that RMClock/NHC will undervolt your CPU quite effectively, and that will increase the battery life noticeably if you're doing anything more intensive than just taking notes.
     
  9. Nicke

    Nicke Notebook Enthusiast

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    I actually find that my battery time is noticeably better under linux. Too many background apps like firewall/anti-virus constantly taking up cpu time under Windows.
     
  10. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    Well, I turn all that crap off in Windows, so it's about the same life. I haven't actually tested it to be honest. And I really can't be bothered ;)
     
  11. NOSintake

    NOSintake Notebook Evangelist NBR Reviewer

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    if you dont run something like beryl, i found my batter life was a little better
     
  12. Pitabred

    Pitabred Linux geek con rat flail!

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    Oh, definitely. Beryl starts up the 3D mode of the graphics chip, which eats a lot more power and makes it hotter. I've found I get about 2 hours with Beryl running, and about 3 hours with just the basic KDE window manager. But either way, Linux won't improve your battery life any more than Windows will. Turning the backlight down is the best way to make it better.
     
  13. Gautam

    Gautam election 2008 NBR Reviewer

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  14. Delvien

    Delvien Notebook Consultant NBR Reviewer

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    composite (beryl) doesnt actually hurt my battery life, Nvidia cards do not support underclocking in linux.. sadly.
     
  15. Lysander

    Lysander AFK, raid time.

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    Just a tip for ATi users with the fglrx drivers. If you go into the terminal, you can check the current power state of the graphics card, and change it if you wish.

    Code:
    aticonfig --lsp
    will list the available powerstates, and tell you which one is in effect.

    Code:
    aticonfig --set-powerstate=1
    will set your GPU to maximum battery life. I have noticed a roughly 40 minute increase in battery life using this scheme, and it doesn;t make Beryl/Compiz run slow either.

    Thanks to Twilight for the heads up a few months ago.
     
  16. CalebSchmerge

    CalebSchmerge Woof NBR Reviewer

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    Would there happen to be a similar trick to nVidia users?
     
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