Improving Battery Life on Linux Mint by 50%

1 07 2009


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth using the network manager in the tray or your laptop’s hardware buttons.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!




7 responses

6 07 2009

Without these tweaks, how did the power consumption in Linux compare to that in Windows?

Also, are you using CPU scaling?

6 07 2009

@rsm if my memory serves me right, I usually start out at about 3 to 3.5 hours of estimated battery life left on Vista Business. Granted, that didn’t require me to turn off programs and do lots of tweaks manually.

Now, I get about 2.5 to 3 hours of estimated battery life as soon as I unplug my Thinkpad on Linux Mint. This is probably the fairer comparison.

So that’s about a 17% decrease in battery life (from 3.5 to 3) based on estimates.

Not sure what CPU scaling is… if that’s the Ondemand vs Conservative vs Powersave vs Performance, then I am on Ondemand which as far as I have read about is the best option.

7 02 2011
Alejandro Nova

Your experience is right: sadly, free drivers and ATI proprietary drivers aren’t doing very well with power management. However, I’m getting the opposite (~20% more battery life with Linux than with Windows 7). and that’s because of a hardware-specific quirk.

I have here a GeForce 6150. With Aero enabled, the GPU can’t clock down and stays at 425 MHz, because the GeForce 6150 can’t really handle Aero in its low-power mode (it’s a low-spec graphic chipset). With Linux, I can keep my effects turned on and downclock my GPU to 100 MHz. That explains the power savings here.

5 09 2009
linux is killing my laptops battery - -

[…] of your laptop, by not running your CPU at 100% all the time. Here are some other tips.…nx-mint-by-50/ __________________ Guide: Linux SMP in VMware & FahMon My Created Firefox Theme Mozilla […]

10 12 2013

It quite help improving my laptop battery life. But the battery state (%) still below windows 7 (I have dual boot linux mint 14 & windows 7). Since my laptop were based on celeron (ASUS 1015E), its proc. heat can hardly tamed.
Reading more webpages, I get more tips, that is disable hardware that I rarely via bios: usb3 (XHCI support), usb webcam, and card reader. And a software called TLP can make those suggestion in powertop permanent.
Now I’m improving battery life around 30 minutes or so comparing to windows.

Thanks again.

5 02 2014

……..and power off your laptop, so that u can save battery. these are all crap sorry

26 07 2014

Linux Mint 16 consumes reasonably on HP 2000. But but decreasing backlight, turning off wallpaper and animation is fine too 😉

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