Dude, where’s my battery life?

Seriously. I’ve been running Ubuntu 8.04 on my Lenovo Thinkpad T61 for some weeks now, and it really is the best release so far. But the battery life is making it harder to use Ubuntu without a power cable, which sort of defeats the purpose of having a laptop. I didn’t think I would say this, but whenever I travel I am really glad I kept my XP partition.

Case in point: a couple of days ago, I had a three hour wait at an airport. Of course there were no power outlets in sight, so I had to depend on the (brand new) battery. Running XP, I watched a movie for two of those hours, worked for an hour and boarded the plane with power to spare. With Ubuntu, I knew I would have been lucky to get two hours max, even with Powertop running.

ThinkWiki (indispensable for all Thinkpad users) has crunched the numbers, which show the stark contrast: Ubuntu consumes about 35 % more power with the same settings. I opted for an Nvidia graphics setup which is known to be power-hungry, and with everything but the radios turned to a minimum, my T61 still uses more than 20 Watts. Harder on the internal fan and the environment, as well as on my patience.

It didn’t use to be like this. On my previous Thinkpad T40, Ubuntu was as efficient as XP, which meant that it had a battery life of four hours. Even though my graphics card consumes more energy, the processor is much more efficient and the battery a great deal larger (it now sticks out on the back). Now, if I could only get the build quality of my Thinkpad with the power consumption of my XO… ;-)

8 thoughts on “Dude, where’s my battery life?

  1. I had the same experience with Ubuntu on a Dell XPS M1330. With Vista Home Premium the battery keeps running for about 6,5 hours (normal “office-usage”), but on Ubuntu the lifetime was limited to about 3,5 hours.

  2. Wow, that’s even worse than in my case. IMO better battery life should be a priority for distro developers such as Ubuntu, as the global market is switching to laptops big time now.

  3. I’ve seen that in Jorunn’s Pro as well, Roffe. Of course, it has a very sleek design, which would limit battery size. Or alternatively, sucky battery life might just be generic to *nix systems… ;-)

  4. Den dukket opp i Digg omtrent samtidig med at jeg så innlegget ditt. Interessant – vi får bare håpe at Acer ikke gjemmer batterispareteknologien sin i en proprietær plugin…

  5. Kom over denne kommentaren i Itavisen.no

    Av Jack_The_Bull i går kl 19:32:
    sitér | varsle
    Driverene blir bare bedre og bedre.

    Sitter på Ubuntu 8.10 og der har det kommet seg veldig.
    Selv det innebygde (Intel 82856G) skjermkortet funker bedre i denne versjonen en i 8.04.
    Dette på tross av at 8.10 ikke slippes før i Oktober.

    Edit: Batterikapasiteten er også mye bedre.
    Selv om du forsøker å hindre Windows i å sluke strømmen så hjelper ikke det mot ca 2 timer ekstra batterikapasitet i Ubuntu.

  6. 2 timer ekstra batterikapasitet i Ubuntu? Well, color me sceptical… Jeg ville bli overlykkelig for samme batterilevetid som Windows.

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