Improving battery life on a ThinkPad (Linux)

I recently purchased a ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop. My OS choice is Linux and Ubuntu 14.04 works flawlessly on this particular laptop.

For a quick win when trying to get the most battery life out of a full charge install TLP.

TLP brings you the benefits of advanced power management for Linux without the need to understand every technical detail. TLP comes with a default configuration already optimized for battery life, so you may just install and forget it.

Installation for most laptops:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install tlp tlp-rdw smartmontools ethtool

ThinkPads, however, require additional tools:

sudo apt-get install tp-smapi-dkms acpi-call-tools

Update: Apparently acpi-call-tools is now called acpitool so if the above fails try the updated name.

tlp-rdw: Radio Device Wizard - needed to enable/disable & Power saving (Wifi / Bluetooth )

smartmontools: needed by tlp-stat to display disk drive S.M.A.R.T. data

ethtool: is needed to disable wake on LAN

tp-smapi-dkms: (ThinkPad only) is needed for battery charge thresholds and ThinkPad specific status output of tlp-stat

acpi-call-tools: (ThinkPad only) is needed for battery charge thresholds on Sandy Bridge and newer models

If you also fancy being able to change your CPU frequency or profile “on the fly” then install the following:

sudo apt-get install libcpufreq0 indicator-cpufreq

Now logout and log back in. Look for the new indicator icon in your tool bar:

TLP Indicator

Now you should have the option to choose between “Performance” or “Powersave”. You might have other options available, maybe a range of frequencies and more profiles to choose from. However, if you have a newer Intel processor, then Ubuntu will use new cpufreq driver called P-State. There are only two governors available for this driver.

To verify these two modes are actually doing anything you can use proc:

cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep "MHz"

My processors on “Powersave” mode:


And again with “Performance” mode:

Performance Mode

I’m sure you can do way more with TLP, but for now I’m happy with how much more battery life I’m getting for very little effort. Thanks TLP and cpufreq.

Leave a comment -