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… ;-)