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  1. #1

    Distro Choice Help


    I am interested in dual-booting Windows XP and a linux distro on my laptop. Trouble is, I don't really know which one to use. I have used Ubuntu in the past and was quite pleased with it, however, it eats away battery power like crazy. The laptop originally was intended to be used with vista, and that had a max battery life of 5 hrs (9 cell) but with XP I can push it to 8 hours, easily. However, no matter what I did with ubuntu, which flavour I installed, I still could only get a 4 hour battery life, if I was lucky. I gave up on it, however, now I need a replacement. I have a Dell Inspiron 1545, with these configurations:
    • Pentium Core 2 Duo at 2.00 GHz
    • 3 GB of RAM
    • 250 GB hard disk
    • ATI Mobility Radeon 4300HD
    • IDT audio card
    • Built-in microphones
    • webcam
    • Dell 1515 Wireless N wireless card
    • Marvell LAN card
    • 9-cell battery

    The most important thing is a long battery life. I don't mind learning how to use a new distro. I have heard that Slackware and Gentoo are quite light, however, I would hesitate installing a new distro before I am sure that it can provide an acceptable battery life. I need a minimum of 6.5 hours of battery.

    Thank you for your help.


  2. #2
    Administrator MikeTbob's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Hello and Welcome.
    I would suggest to you that Gentoo is probably not the route you want to take for long battery life. The reason I say this is because Gentoo is a source based distro and this means that you must compile each package from source and for large packages this can take many hours. It takes me a full 6 to 10 hours just to install Gentoo into a Desktop GUI ready machine powered by a Pentium(R) Dual-Core CPU E5200 @ 2.50GHz. Gentoo will run like an unleashed hell hound once you get it all setup, but then anytime you have updates it may take awhile to compile them all. This is probably true for most "Source based Distro's" such as Slackware, Gentoo, Arch, LFS and Crux. You could always update Gentoo when you are plugged in only, if you still think you might want to try it out.
    I'd think if you go with a Lightweight distro for older hardware, you'll get max battery life.
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  3. #3
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Central Michigan
    Puppy linux runs completely in ram.. try the live cd [no install necessary] check battery life..

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  5. #4
    Linux Guru reed9's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Boston, MA
    A couple days old, but if you're still looking for info...

    Probably the three main tools you'll want to look at are cpufrequtils, laptop mode tools, and powertop.

    The first two should be installed by default in most distros, the last may not be. If a distros defaults are not working for you, you can use these tools to tweak your system for more aggressive powersaving.

    Also, make sure you are removing unnecessary services from running in the background.

    More tips and tricks here: Gentoo Linux Documentation -- Power Management Guide

    Though it's a Gentoo site, the info is mostly generic and usable with any distro.

    I also do not recommend Gentoo if you're relatively new to linux, unless you're willing to put a lot of work and hours into learning and building your system.

    Note that Crux and Gentoo are source based, but Arch and Slackware are not, they are binary distros, so they can be a good middle ground if you want a lot of control over your system, but don't want to spend the time it takes compiling everything. But again, they have a much steeper learning curve than Ubuntu or OpenSuse or the like.

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