Power saving tips for a Linux laptop

Jack Wallen
Feb 27, 2010
Updated • Feb 15, 2018

Linux on a laptop is notorious for sucking batteries down far faster than their Windows counterparts. My personal Linux laptops, without help, are lucky to get half the battery life than when running on windows.

Why is that? There are plenty of reasons for this. From applications installed to power saving options.  For anyone who uses a laptop with Linux, you most likely will understand how frustrating this can be.

In this article I am going to show you some useful tips to keep your laptop battery lasting as long as possible.


I have already covered this topic (see my article "Gain more battery life from your Linux-based laptop with powertop".) Believe it or not, this little tool will do wonders to gain that extra bit of battery. But it won't solve the problem all together.  To really gain that full charge you will need to do a bit of digging around.

Services and apps

You might very well find the biggest culprit of battery drainage in the services and apps you have on your laptop. Because I am a technical writer (and cover a large amount of topics), my laptop ends up being a testing ground for just about every kind of application you can imagine. My current laptop is struggling under the weight of both Apache and MySQL servers. These servers are constantly running on my laptop, and although they aren't the primary culprits, they do add to the drainage. And depending upon how much CPU the application or service demands, the battery will be drained accordingly.

When you install Linux on your laptop, only install the applications you know you will use. This will be a desktop-only machine and if you plan on using this machine on battery life often, install only what you need.

And finally, if you don't need KDE or GNOME, consider a lighter weight desktop like Fluxbox.

Power-saving options

Figure 1

And now, for the biggest culprit. If you are using the GNOME desktop click on System > Preferences > Screensave > Power Management. Once in this window, click on the "On Battery Power" tab (see Figure 1).

  • To get the most battery life you will want to set the following:
  • Put computer to sleep when inactive for: 10 to 20 minutes is probably your best bet.
  • When laptop lid is closed: Suspend.
  • When battery power is critically low: Hibernate.
  • Make sure Spin down hard disks when possible is checked.
  • Put display to sleep when inactive for: 1 to 5 minutes.
  • Make sure Reduce backlight brightness is checked.
  • Make sure Dim display when idle is checked.

Once you have set this click the close button and you should be good to go.

There is also a Brightness applet you can add to your GNOME panel that allows you to manually control the brightness of your laptop screen. This is an outstanding way to gain more battery life. Right click a panel and select Add to panel. You will find the Brightness applet near the top. Add than and you will find a button that opens a slider when clicked. Drag that slider to the lowest comfortable brightness you can still work with.

Final thoughts

Of course these tips won't bring back to life and already dying battery. But for those batteries who still have plenty of life in them, these tips will help you eek out a bit more life from that battery.

Power saving tips for a Linux laptop
Article Name
Power saving tips for a Linux laptop
In this article I am going to show you some useful tips to keep your laptop battery lasting as long as possible.
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  1. staerseus said on February 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    wtf? These are tips how to save the power? Every lama can find this in menu…

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