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Linux tends to guzzle up more battery life than Windows, even though most Linux installations are lighter than Windows on system resources. Why is that? 

It primarily comes down to a lack of optimized, under-the-hood power settings. Happily, there are Linux tools for optimizing your energy usage. Perhaps the best known is called “laptop-mode-tools”, but it’s  been incorporated into the Linux kernel. Additionally, another common tool named Jupiter Get More From Your Battery With Jupiter [Linux] Get More From Your Battery With Jupiter [Linux] Get better battery life from your Linux laptop. Jupiter Applet is a small program that helps you save energy by adjusting your CPU, tweaking the Linux kernel and your hardware. You probably won't notice a... Read More was recently discontinued.

Don’t worry, though, because there’s another tool worth looking at: TLP.

What’s TLP?

TLP (no one knows for sure what this acronym stands for) is a simple tool available for various Linux distributions. It’s meant to enhance your battery life (or your power usage, for the occasional desktop user who is interested in power savings). You can change a lot of settings by editing a configuration file, but TLP comes with a default options for optimizing battery life. So, if you don’t care about the little details, you can simply install TLP and forget it, and reap the benefits.

tlp_stat
TLP increases battery life with the default configuration by having an ac and a battery mode. In ac mode, performance is preferred, while in battery mode, power savings are preferred. It accomplishes this by changing various states and timeouts of various system devices to reduce the amount of power they draw. These are all settings that you can only access “under-the-hood”, and not via the Gnome or KDE power settings.

Installing TLP

Installing TLP is a quick three-step process. You’ll need to add a new repository, install the packages, and then either start the service manually or simply restart. I’ll be covering installation instructions for Ubuntu and Fedora here – for other distributions, check out the official installation guide.

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Ubuntu

In Ubuntu, you’ll want to do the following:

  1. Run this command to add the repository: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp.
  2. Run sudo apt-get update to make your computer aware of the new repository.
  3. Run sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw to install TLP.
  4. If you are on a ThinkPad, you’ll need to install a few more packages for maximum battery life, which you can do with the command sudo apt-get install tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-tools.
  5. Finally, run sudo tlp start to start the TLP service. You won’t need to do this ever again as it should start automatically on each boot.

Fedora

In Fedora, you’ll want to run these commands to add the necessary repositories:

yum localinstall –nogpgcheck http://repo.linrunner.de/fedora/tlp/repos/releases/tlp-release-1.0-0.noarch.rpm
yum localinstall –nogpgcheck http://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-stable.noarch.rpm

Please notice that the second command adds the “free” portion of the RPMFusion repository. If you already have this added, you can skip it. If not, or you’re unsure, do it anyways.

  1. Then, to check the new repository and install TLP, run yum install tlp tlp-rdw.
  2. If you are on a ThinkPad, you’ll need to install a few more packages for maximum battery life, which you can do with the command yum install akmod-tp_smapi akmod-acpi_call kernel-devel.
  3. Finally, run sudo tlp start to start the TLP service. You won’t need to do this ever again as it should start automatically on each boot.

Default Results

tlp_battery_life
I find TLP to be fairly effective. My battery life is already terrible: I usually only get an hour and a half. TLP gives me up to an extra 30 minutes of battery life, bringing me to two total.

Of course, your results will vary greatly and are highly dependent on your system, your usage, and other factors. At least the good thing about the default settings is that you achieve these results with virtually no performance impact – your computer should function as quickly as it did before.

Configurability

tlp_config
If you’d like to change the configuration file of TLP yourself (if you want to save power more aggressively at the cost of performance), you can do so at your own discretion. These settings are highly technical and require that you know what you’re doing. To give you an idea, you can control everything from undervolting to audio controllers to USB autosuspend to disk standby to network settings. I’d recommend that you just go with the defaults, but if you’re set on changing something you should consult this configuration guide. It details everything you can change.

Conclusion

For the amount of time it takes to install TLP, it’s certainly worth using. In less than five minutes, you can enjoy increased battery life with virtually no performance impact. And why wouldn’t you use it, when it’s that quick and that simple?

What’s your favorite method of increasing battery life in Linux (besides the usual tips, like reducing screen brightness)? Let us know in the comments!

  1. vilian
    October 27, 2016 at 3:16 pm

    Thank you for the guide!

    I got bad coil whine after installing and using tlp (at least on battery) so I had to uninstall. My computer is T440p with i5-4300M.

  2. vilian
    October 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Thank you for the great article!

    I'm sorry to say that I got some pretty serious coil whine while on battery mode under Ubuntu 14.04 and 16.04 using tlp. My laptop is a T440p, i5-4300M. Had to remove. Please let me know if there's a solution to the coil whine

  3. makerj
    November 19, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Seems COOOL. I'll try
    Thanks!

  4. delta
    August 25, 2015 at 5:13 am

    Try editing your grub file...

    http://askubuntu.com/questions/428551/ it worked for me.

  5. gbru2505
    May 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Thanks for this.
    This is something Linux developers need to work on as people increasingly move over to faster, energy efficient, portable devices. I'm dual booting an Acer C720 Chromebook. Google's own Chrome OS gives me 8 hours of use. Ubuntu 14.04 on the device gives me 3 to 4. It's a big difference considering they're both Linux systems.

    I'd like to get this going on my Chromebook with Ubuntu.

  6. jimvandamme
    March 31, 2015 at 12:46 am

    I find Mint has more drivers than Ubuntu. Give it a shot on a flash drive.

  7. Sophie
    January 4, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    Even with TLP, Ubuntu 14.04 drains my battery from fully charged to empty in 35 mins. ( Asus G46vw), but with Windows 8 I have 4 hours!

    I have no choice to reinstalled Windows 8. Everytime I try Ubuntu since Ubuntu 9, it's been impractical, or near unusable. Shame.

    • Kristoffer Ödmark
      June 21, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Oh how quickly the world ows you something. What have you brought to the linux community? Have you given them money? Have you helped with their development? Have you helped with marketing?

      Oh how i feel sorry for you, allowed to download and use over 20 years of software free while
      also having all the means to change anything you dislike with it.

      Shame is the right word.

      • Shane DiAngelo
        June 23, 2015 at 1:28 am

        Oh, do calm down. Sophie is not criticising Linux as a whole. She is just pointing out that, okay, I need very good battery life, and this is something that, regrettably, Linux isn't very good at on the desktop. Further, it just doesn't suit her, which is fine. The cool thing about software is that you always have options. There's nothing inherently wrong with switching to Windows, if that's the platform you prefer.

        And if I may say so, I prefer OS X, although Ubuntu is very close second. I'll dual boot once I upgrade to new hardware. Anyway, no one in the OS X beta program or the Windows Insider program is required to donate money or contribute code or market the OS.

        They do help with development, though. By *providing feedback*. External testing and feedback (even post-release feedback) tells devs "Okay, people are complaining that XYZ doesn't work so well. Maybe we should try and assess and correct the issue?"

        It's this need for feedback that drove Microsoft to *start* the Windows Insider program, after Windows 8 was so widely criticised. User feedback drives development.

        So please don't go snapping at Sophie just because she's offering perfectly useful, constructive criticism.

        -Minty

      • Asfand
        May 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm

        Excellent point Sophie! As a long-time Linux user of about 15 years, the crappy battery life is really getting to me. I too will be switching to Windows, and running Linux in a virtual machine.

        Most laptops come with a version of Windows directly tailored to the machine by the developer, and where this has been the case for Linux, it's worked well. Take Chromebooks for example - those are Linux distros, and they get 6-8 hours battery life, because Google or the Chromebook manufacturers tailored the distro to the device. Unfortunately most of us install a generic Linux distro onto a laptop ourselves, so usually the kernel or distro developers will not have put any tailored optimizations into it for us.

      • Vega Fieri
        July 23, 2016 at 7:26 am

        WOW! This Troll in an Asshat sure had a big bowl of Douchebag for breakfast!

    • Derek
      September 23, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      The problem you are most likely having is that you are using a laptop with the proprietary nvidia optimus technology. In windows, it automatically switches between using the nvidia card for performance, and intel card for power saving. Also, by default Ubuntu uses the open-source noveau drivers, and nvidia has not provided enough information to them so they can not make their drivers power effiecient. This combined is most likely costing you a lot of battery life. There is a partial solution that should bring up your battery life a lot though. Just go into additional drivers and install the proprietary drivers. Then make sure you have the nvidia-prime package installed. You should have an Nvidia X Server Settings application that will allow you to switch between your intel and nvidia card.

  8. potato_expert
    February 14, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Thanks, this helped me a lot.

  9. Muaad
    February 7, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I had the same problem that Ron had on Ubuntu 13.04, what distribution are you using Danny?
    Could you post a vidoe on how to install it?

  10. Ravi T
    January 28, 2014 at 3:02 am

    Wow!
    I didn't even know Linux consumes more power!

    • Danny S
      January 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      Linux is lightweight, but not always optimized as most hardware works with general drivers. That's why it may sometimes use up more power than it needs to.

    • Ashok
      February 20, 2014 at 6:33 pm

      I had installed and used Mageia3 alongside windows7 in my laptop. After installing mageia3 with in 3months my laptop battery had became dead. Now I realized this happened because of Mageia.

  11. Milinda L
    January 27, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    How can I install skype and viber on Fedora20.

  12. Ron
    January 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I have a pre-release version of Ubuntu 14.04 installed., tried installing but got the following errors:

    "E:Unable to locate package tlp"
    "E: Unable to locate package tlp-rdw"

    • Danny S
      January 31, 2014 at 8:15 pm

      They most likely don't have a repository set up for Ubuntu 14.04 yet, so there's nothing I can do about that. They will have it set up by the time it's is officially released.

    • Joker
      February 14, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Is there any way to use saucy ppas for trusty? (Not the main repository, just additional ppas likt tlp.)

    • Ron
      February 14, 2014 at 8:31 pm

      I just tried your suggestion and got the same error. Thanks for responding.

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