In one my first posts, I noted that my biggest concern with moving 100% to Linux from Windows is the higher consumption in power which leads to degradation in battery life when unplugged. I use a Lenovo ThinkPad X200 with a 6-cell battery. A recent business trip reminded me how important longer battery life is.
So I did a little research, experimentation and tweaking to improve my situation. Below are the steps I took to get up to a 45% reduction in power consumption as measured in Watts (from about 15W to 8.3W) and about 50% more working time on my unplugged computer (from 3 to 4.5 hours).
Granted, some of these steps are a little too technical for what an average work/personal user would like, especially when compared to the Mac or Windows experience. But I hope this would be helpful to those who would otherwise stop trying an open source operating system because of poor battery performance.
Particularly helpful when on a long-haul flight, do these whenever you unplug your laptop:
- Run Powertop by opening Terminal and run the command “sudo powertop”, which will require you to enter your password. Powertop is a tool which will show you some technical things you can tweak to reduce power usage and extend battery life. Just pay attention to the suggestions at the bottom of the screen, which will advise you to press a certain key to apply some tweaks. Powertop is installable from the Package Manager application in Linux Mint. Just search for powertop.
- Quit applications like Skype (right click on the icon and choose quit), Pidgin (again right click and quit), and search tools like Google Desktop or Tracker.
- Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth using the network manager in the tray or your laptop’s hardware buttons.
- Turn off Visual Effects. You can do this by going to Menu->Appearance->Visual Effects. A handy tool is Compiz-Switch which allows you to turn off/on the effects with a single click.
- Quit applications that you don’t use. Believe it or not, the more applications running — even if you aren’t using them — the more energy your laptop is consuming!
If you apply some or all of these tips, I sincerely hope you get equally good or better results as I did!