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Power Software Linux

Ubuntu's Power Consumption Tested 330

Posted by kdawson
from the no-lyme-disease dept.
RedDragon writes "Ubuntu 7.10 is due out on Thursday, October 18, and in addition to desktop 3D effects, GNOME 2.20, and other features is the use of the Linux 2.6.22 kernel with the tick-less (CONFIG_NO_HZ) kernel feature. But does this mean enhanced power savings when compared to past Ubuntu releases? Phoronix tested Ubuntu power consumption looking back 2-1/2 years at the six Ubuntu releases from Ubuntu 5.04 to the yet-to-be-released Ubuntu 7.10. Testing was done when the system was idling and then under load, and when the Lenovo notebook was powered via the battery and then again with the AC adapter. The Pentium M CPU temperature was also monitored. While Ubuntu 7.10 does include the tick-less kernel feature, more daemons and processes running by default on these modern Ubuntu releases is actually causing an increase in power consumption."
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Ubuntu's Power Consumption Tested

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  • by cleatsupkeep (1132585) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:33PM (#20975757) Homepage
    I'm confused - don't computers now use more power then they used to? Because of new software and being able to do more powerful things?

    I mean - Vista will use more power than Windows XP, OS X will use more power than Mac OS 9.

    Or is there a fundamental flaw in my logic that I'm missing here?
    • by imbaczek (690596) <imbaczek@poczta . f m> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:38PM (#20975793) Journal

      Or is there a fundamental flaw in my logic that I'm missing here?
      Yes, you are. Some parts are manufactured with power consumption being #1 priority and software is also getting smarter. (As TFA admits, at least theoretically :grin:>)
      • by reset_button (903303) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:43PM (#20975829)

        Some parts are manufactured with power consumption being #1 priority
        Since all of the tests were run on the same hardware, power-efficient hardware is taken out of the equation.
        • by Cruicky (1122359) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:30PM (#20976155)
          It would have been nice if the article confirmed that the HPET timer was active, which I believe is rather important for the tickless kernel to work most efficiently.
          • by dpilot (134227) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:29PM (#20976497) Homepage Journal
            The HPET stuff is now scheduled for merge into the 2.6.24 kernel. I've had to patch my earlier kernels to get HPET, which as you say is really necessary for tickless to do its stuff. The article suggests that this is a stock Gutsy installation. But then again, most distros do a bit of custom patching of their kernels. In particular, Gentoo does not include the HPET patch.

            So the question here: Does the Gutsy kernel have the HPET patch applied?

            If not, then these power numbers are definitely pessimistic, presuming that they move to an HPET kernel (2.6.24+) as it's available.

            Someone here with a Gutsy system should run "powertop" on it, and let us know. IIRC, powertop suggested that I use the HPET, and with a little digging I found that a patch was needed, and took care of it.

            • So the question here: Does the Gutsy kernel have the HPET patch applied?
               
              Nope,
              Powertop asks me to install the patch, or set it up in my Bios, so I can only assume it is not setup on my clean install of tribe 5.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              HPET is in the vanilla linux kernel since at least 2.6.21, because I had it working after a motherboard flash update. The patches you talk about is actually helping to enable HPET support for some chipsets, but are not mandatory for a working HPET support.
              • by dpilot (134227)
                Interesting. I had to apply the patch, at the very least because my laptop has an ICH4 chipset. That chipset doesn't officially support the HPET, but if you apply the patch it works.

                The other day on the powertop mailing list the HPET guy said that it was getting merged in 2.6.24. But come to think of it, my SMP deskside at work has run HPET with no patches.
            • by SuperQ (431) * on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:53PM (#20976663) Homepage
              Does this answer your question?

              $ grep HPET /boot/config-2.6.22-14-generic
              CONFIG_HPET=y
              CONFIG_HPET_MMAP=y
              # CONFIG_HPET_RTC_IRQ is not set
              CONFIG_HPET_TIMER=y
              CONFIG_HPET_EMULATE_RTC=y

              $ dmesg | grep hpet
              [ 8.328261] hpet0: at MMIO 0xfed00000, IRQs 2, 8, 0
              [ 8.328266] hpet0: 3 64-bit timers, 14318180 Hz
              [ 0.744000] Time: hpet clocksource has been installed.
              • by dpilot (134227)
                Sure looks like it does. But it appears that the patch may be needed for some chipsets. I need the patch for Intel ICH4, but not for an SMP deskside. Do you know what chipset you have?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Big Jojo (50231)

            HPET isn't essential for the tickless kernel, not at all. I run tickless on several machines which don't have HPET. I wouldn't swear that their test system was a system with working HPET, for example.

            What HPET is nice for is Higher Precision timer interrupts; what do you think the "HP" stands for?

    • Kind of. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:40PM (#20975803)
      Although each newer system does more ... they've also improved the code so that it does so more efficiently. Or in the case of the tick-less kernel, other code has changed.

      So, the question is: Do the improvements offset the additional features.

      The answer is: Yes, to a degree. 7.10beta runs cooler and more efficiently than 7.04 ... but still uses more power than even earlier releases did.

      So the next question is: How many of the new features can you shut off because you do not need them and how much of a power savings will you see then?
      • by JoshJ (1009085)
        Cooler and more efficiently? When I was on Gutsy beta early on I had to go back to Feisty because I kept overheating. I do not have any plan to update as I have no need to at this point, and that experience soured me on Gutsy.
        • by xenocide2 (231786)
          Gutsy early on (june till late september) suffered from a couple of critical bugs that would likely cause laptops problems. Trackerd, a search indexer similar to beagle and friends, would occasionally get into massive CPU loads, causing me to have to kill it. It also ignored indexing while on battery. I believe both those are fixed, albeit the battery check involves polling something in /proc last I checked. Compiz is also likely to be a heat contributer, as it puts the usually idle 3d chipsets to work.

          I ke
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ozamosi (615254)
          Did you use Compiz in Gutsy but not in Feisty, then? A lot of people add Compiz to their Feisty installations, but it is default only from Gutsy, so I'm going to assume that's a "yes" in this post.

          When activating Compiz on my laptop, I start to fear hearing problems, because the fans have to be at maximum speed non-stop (it's a Macbook, and I've been using it in my lap - any reproductive abilities are in other words long gone, so I don't have to fear that), while they are off at all times except when playin
          • by JoshJ (1009085)
            I have Compiz turned off in Feisty, and turned it off in Gutsy. Cool concept, freezes too often for me. That's not the difference. Also, trackerd shouldn't be causing much of the problem either- if it is, that's stupid. It should come with the stuff on a freshly installed system pre-analyzed, unless I misunderstand how it works.
          • by xenocide2 (231786)

            The reason seems to be that the 3d accelerator on the GPU emits huge amounts of heat when being used.

            I think you mean 3d acceleration. 3d accelerometers measure tilt and motion in three dimensions. To address the heat problem you attempted to convey: nvidia is very cool for me -- the chips are designed to be efficient, whereas Intel offloads a great majority of work to the CPU. Admittedly, nvidia isn't the most power friendly driver around; powertop reports it as one of the bigger offenders, but nothing to where I can't watch a movie with the fans getting loud.

      • All of them. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:40PM (#20976571) Journal

        So the next question is: How many of the new features can you shut off because you do not need them and how much of a power savings will you see then?

        Given that the stock Ubuntu (if you don't include "restricted drivers") comes with FULL source code, yes, all of them.

        On a more realistic note, most people do need restricted drivers, and most people don't want to mess around with source code. But it's based on Debian, which means, for the most part, you can completely remove services you don't need, point and click, provided you know what they are.

        Then again, I actually do want most of these services -- for example, the parts that make everything plug'n'play, from USB storage to wireless, even the CD "autorun" feature of Windows if you really want it. Most users won't have to think about "mounting" any more than they do on Windows, and somewhat more than they might on OS X, and that's a good thing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Daengbo (523424)
          Scary for me -- CDs auto unmount when you press the eject button. When did that happen? Worried I'll start getting BSODs next ...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Big Jojo (50231)

        So the next question is: How many of the new features can you shut off because you do not need them ,,,?

        More like: Why hasn't the Ubuntu team turned off more of that crap by default?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by volsung (378)
      By going to smaller transistors, lower voltages, and more clever power management schemes, they have managed to get more work done per watt than before. A new 3 GHz Athlon64 X2 requires 89W of power, whereas the old 1.4 GHz Athlon Thunderbird used 74W.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rmerry72 (934528)

        A new 3 GHz Athlon64 X2 requires 89W of power, whereas the old 1.4 GHz Athlon Thunderbird used 74W.

        So a new CPU is using 20% more power than the old one. Doesn't sound more power efficient to me. Better efficiency would involve the second number being lower than the first.

        Sure but "it does more faster" I hear you say. That needs qualification. With the same battery I'll be able to use my laptop for 20% less time (say 2.5 hours instead of 3). If it does more faster, how come I get 30 minutes less time to

        • by gameforge (965493) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @07:20PM (#20977103) Journal

          Better efficiency would involve the second number being lower than the first.
          No. Better efficiency would involve the second number being lower and also having equal clock speeds. The former is multiples faster as it has more than double the clock rate and is a dual core.

          So if you start your number crunching computer program and push "Start" and it takes 15 minutes on the first CPU and over 40 on the second, presuming you were to turn your computer off when the program finished, you'd have used the first one for less than half the time.

          With the same battery I'll be able to use my laptop for 20% less time (say 2.5 hours instead of 3). If it does more faster, how come I get 30 minutes less time to use it before my battery craps out?
          Not really; most laptops and many desktops can scale their speed. If you want to accomplish 15 minutes of work in 40 minutes, you can either throttle the newer CPU's speed (presumably using much less than the full power rating) or replace it with an older processor which is not as efficient (and therefore equally as fast, but likely to use more power).

          If you scaled your new one down to less than the speed of your old one, you'd get more time out of it. So if you're watching a DVD and not really accomplishing a lot of "work", that's what you'd do to get more time than the old laptop but still have more processing power.

          Remember, 3GHz refers to CPU clock cycles per second - an old thunderbird gets less done in a cycle than a new Athlon64 X2. So even a 1.4GHz single core Athlon64 is faster than a 1.4GHz Thunderbird. So you can slow the new one down from 1.4GHz and still get the same work out of it. A DVD might be choppy at 500MHz on a really old machine, but a brand new state of the art processor might be able to deal with it just fine at 500MHz, even if both machines have similar bus and memory speeds and come with the same MPEG decoding video card.

          What would be better is a CPU that can use up to 89W when it needs it, then falls back to much lower - say 10W - when it idle and waiting for me to type a clever response into Slashdot.
          Actually, this is a characteristic of both transistors and vacuum tubes, and therefore literally all CPUs do this. The amount of voltage supplied to the CPU is supposed to be constant - but the more transistors you use, the more amperes are drawn (volts * amps = watts). Relative to peak power usage, the difference between two idle CPUs is likely negligible, even for older models.

          Find a computer with a variable speed CPU fan, and listen for it to shut off when you're idling. Less heat means less power.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by volsung (378)
          You do realize that a dual core Athlon64 is many times faster than an Athlon Thunderbird? You can easily underclock an Athlon 64 until it uses less than 74W, or grab the laptop version with much lower power consumption, and it would still outperform a T-bird. (I grabbed the first power measurements I could find and assumed people could do the scaling in their head.) Modern CPUs also do the power throttling you describe already.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by noidentity (188756)
      Yeah, it's not the OS that's supposed to be using much of the new power; it's user applications. If anything, operating systems can reduce system usage by improving how they allocate system resources. I wouldn't be surprised if Mac OS X were more efficient than Mac OS 9 in some ways, due to having real multitasking and decent virtual memory (funny I'm typing this on my Mac OS 9 machine).
    • by Gerzel (240421) *
      I'm with you man.

      I'm confused as to how this might matter at all.

      I mean an OS like Ubuntu has so many options that while yes you can test to the standard install does that test mean anything? Who goes with all-standard settings for their machine if they use that machine often? And if it is a machine that you are going to leave on and never change the settings, such as a lab computer, and you are worried about power consumption per machine (which for a large institution or a large lab savings might be cons
  • Snazzy effects (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:34PM (#20975769)
    As cool as these Compiz effects are, they should not be forced upon everyone, just made very easy for people to obtain.

    Plus, this version never actually booted up because it didn't like my Broadcom 4318.
    • Re:Snazzy effects (Score:5, Informative)

      by F-3582 (996772) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:47PM (#20975865)
      Rest assured, it takes you four mouse-clicks to disable them. Every tried that under Vista?
      • Re:Snazzy effects (Score:4, Informative)

        by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:57PM (#20975931) Journal
        Vista takes 5.

        1: Right click on desktop.
        2: Select Personalize
        3: Select Theme
        4: Select Windows Classic
        5: Click OK.

      • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

        by nmb3000 (741169)
        Rest assured, it takes you four mouse-clicks to disable them. Every tried that under Vista?

        Five clicks to change to Windows Classic or Aero Basic. This includes the click to "Apply" the new settings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Runefox (905204)
      I'd prefer a HW-accelerated interface to one that's more or less driven by the CPU. The flashy effects can be turned off if you don't like that, though some of them (desktop cube, "expose", and so on) actually provide some utility.

      I'm still very disappointed in any OS that can't wobble its windows.

      Boingy boingy. Amusing for idle time.
  • Other OSes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by p0tat03 (985078) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:36PM (#20975783)
    I'd be more interested in seeing how Ubuntu's power consumption stacks up against Windows and MacOS...
    • by mpetch (692893) <mpetch@capp-sysware.com> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:39PM (#20975797)
      Me too, but I'd need to be able actually read the article with Safari on OS/X first.
    • I'd be more interested in seeing how Ubuntu's power consumption stacks up against Windows and MacOS...

      Yes, that would be interesting! Can you make one and post it here?
    • Re:Other OSes? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomee (792877) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:46PM (#20975857)
      I agree. There also seems to be no info on whether they used the 3d-desktop stuff. I would imagine that that would have a much greater impact on the power consumption, and it would be interesting to see some data on that.
    • Re:Other OSes? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Splab (574204) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:46PM (#20976245)
      In my own experience running Ubuntu 7.04 gives me somewhere between 5,5 hours and 6 hours of battery time. Running windows XP usually gives me around 8 hours of battery time. I use both distributions for development, I code under MS VS (C++) in windows and use VIM under linux for development (also C++).

      Gonna check out the new 7.10 and see if I can get nearer to what windows can give me.
    • As a Lenovo T60p laptop user (running Vista Enterprise), I too would be more interested in a head to head comparison between the ability of Ubuntu to put the Lenovo into various sleep modes such as S3 (Hybrid Sleep), S4 (Hibernate) as well as take advantage of a CPU's adaptive/variable speed capability. In Vista there is a Lenovo software add-on (Thinkvantage) that allows the user to program the power saving mode of the laptop. Using this software (works hand in hand with Vista's Power Options from the Cont

      • I tried to put my laptop to sleep with Ubuntu x86-64 and my laptop crashed during wake-up. On the other hand, sleep worked fine with both XP 32bits and Vista Ultimate 64bits. ... I installed Vista last Tuesday and am pretty glad I got it for only $50 since it looks like I won't be using it much (or at all) in the near future. My laptop is back on XP (too slow and too little RAM to make Vista run sufficiently smoothly for my taste) and I probably won't be booting my dual-boot desktop to Vista very often unti
      • I'm running Ubuntu gutsy, and the T60p out of the box suspended fine. If I allow the binary ATI drivers onto my box, suspend breaks because their driver has a bug with the SLUB allocator, preventing sleep.

        The other frustration is that I'm pretty much stuck using ndiswrapper, the madwifi driver is way too flaky on this laptop.

        If I had a choice of equipment, would've gone with an nVidia graphics and Intel wireless, but oh well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:40PM (#20975805)
    1. Run the particular distro.
    2. Make sure the power cord is long and in the open.
    3. Allow a penguin to chew through the cord.
    4. Measure the distance the penguin flies after chewing into the cord. This will give you some idea of the power usage.
    5. Well, don't let that penguin go to waste! BBQ and teriyaki are great ways to make penguin. Personally, I prefer General Tso's Penguin myself.
    • BBQ penguin - ugh!

      A penguin is bound to taste terrible - like BBQ seagull - not something I would like to try except in a dire case of starvation. Penguins are actually horrid creatures - noisy carnivorous sea birds. I have been bitten by a little one - not much fun at all.
  • Sig Fig nitpick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:47PM (#20975871)
    TFA doesn't specify error bars, which of course makes the results somewhat dubious. They list numbers to two decimal place accuracy (e.g. 48.00), but since all the numbers end in .00, I'm guessing those decimal places are not significant. In other words, the number are only good to within +/- 1 or +/- 2 or something like that. Considering that they are trying to compare numbers that are quite similar (27 to 33), their conclusions may not be reliable.

    When comparing numbers, an estimate of the error is crucial. If the difference between two measurements is smaller than the error, then you cannot meaningfully say they are different.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by DarkMantle (784415)

      Sorry to ruin your nit pick but a quick google search tells me that the SeaSonic PowerAngel [seasonic.com] used in the test has an accurazy of 2%.

      So a 2% variance on 33 watts is between 32.33 and 33.66. The 27 would be between 26.46 and 27.54.
      of course, this is approxamate I just got what 2% of 33 was and added/subtracted. It's the lazy mans math.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by volsung (378)
        So that's one piece of the uncertainty on the measurement. The next piece we need is how much the power reading fluctuates while the computer is in a "steady" state. Using my Kill-A-Watt, I've seen short time variations of a few watts on a computer (though it drew more power than a laptop).
  • by maubp (303462) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:48PM (#20975875)
    Does anyone know if Ubuntu actually have machines hooked up to measure this kind of thing in house, looking for regressions in power usage? I gather the OLPC project has thing kind of thing as part of their build system (driven off the code repository), but they are naturally particularly concerned about battery life.
    • Mod up! I remember a bitter conversation with a dude from IBM over OS/2. I was trying to sell it (over Windows!). OS/2 was better IMHO, but just would *not* install on the client's PCs. I'm not talking about noname beige boxes either - my client had Compaq.

      Me: "I'm having this problem when I try and boot the Compaq"
      IBM: "Urm...well, actually, we've never tried installing it on a non-IBM PC..."

      Subsequent lack of success for OS/2 not surprising, (my experience was by no means unique).

      Guess testing for pow
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LingNoi (1066278)
      I don't think Canonical does much in-house testing. I thought they got the community to do almost everything to do with Ubuntu, apart from employees who live around the globe and commit their code to the servers.
  • misleading (Score:5, Informative)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:53PM (#20975907) Journal
    very misleading healine. I RTFA and if you look at the nice graph, it actually shows a decrease in power usage since feisty and just about what the prior versions were. AC power consumption idling went from 31 to 29 from feisty to gutsy. while loaded, it went down slightly from 51 [feisty] to 50 [gutsy] the only thing that gutsy was higher in was battery discharge rate idle- it was at 22.26 while feisty was at 21.16. while loaded on battery it went down from 33.51 to 32.21 from feisty to gutsy.
  • by reidbold (55120) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:53PM (#20975909)
    toast, still not free
  • Well duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:55PM (#20975919)
    "more daemons and processes running by default on these modern Ubuntu releases is actually causing an increase in power consumption."

    Ya think?

    I just install OpenSuse 10.3 on a tower type and a laptop.
    The first thing I do is go in and disable a whole slew of bullshit that's enabled by default.
    I LOVE Linux but the trend lately has been to BLOAT it up like a new eMachine that's preloaded with 40gigs of bullshit.

    What ever happened to minimal? When I installed Suse 9.3 on my Athlon 64 w/1g ram, it ran like a cat with it's ass on fire.
    SAME hardware with OpenSuse 10.2 was abysmal. It was sooooo bad that I was just about to give up on it then 10.3 came out.
    It's a slight improvement but, damn! They are developing all the new distros with the assumption that everyone is going to run out and buy all new shit. Shades of M$, dare I say??

    For the longest time Linux captured and held my heart because it would run so fast on the oldest, worst case hardware.
    No more. Wanna run the latest distro? Better put some $$$ back for all new hardware...

    Bloat = power drain.

    How about getting back to basics and quit focusing on the bling-bling. Linux is NOT windows and it never should be. Quit trying to make it look and act like windows. Quit trying to make it run windows crap. Be happy that it's not windows. I do not want windows compatibility. At all. Ever.

    Kill the bloat and pork and watch power consumption go down. Not to mention the old PC's being tossed out into the environment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dvice_null (981029)
      > What ever happened to minimal?

      You would like to have a light Linux distribution? Something like this perhaps:

      http://www.puppylinux.com/ [puppylinux.com]
      http://featherlinux.berlios.de/about.htm [berlios.de]
      http://www.damnsmalllinux.org/ [damnsmalllinux.org]
      • by Aladrin (926209)
        I have to wonder if there shouldn't be an Lubuntu distro that is based on Ubuntu/Debian, but is a truly minimalistic distro like those you list.

        I also have to wonder if it would catch on like Ubuntu did since Ubuntu's great advantage is 'ease of use' and not 'one fits all' like some seem to think it should be. Still, I'd like the option to have a fairly familiar environment but will run well on my ancient laptop.
    • Re:Well duh! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BlueParrot (965239) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:23PM (#20976105)

      How about getting back to basics and quit focusing on the bling-bling. Linux is NOT windows and it never should be. Quit trying to make it look and act like windows. Quit trying to make it run windows crap. Be happy that it's not windows. I do not want windows compatibility. At all. Ever.

      Kill the bloat and pork and watch power consumption go down. Not to mention the old PC's being tossed out into the environment.


      Ubuntu certainly isn't windows. That is why you can open the package manager and purge most of the stuff that you find bloated, or use Xubuntu, which is designed to have lower requirements yet still be easy to use. Or if you REALLY want to streamline your system you could install a distro with that purpose, like DSL or Feather Linux. If that is too limited for your needs you could grab a minimal debian install and only install the packages you want.

      My point? Different users have different needs. Ubuntu is explicitly targeted and those people who WANT an easy to use GUI and those people who WANT painless support for things they expect to just work. Making an operating system which caters to those users is the main purpose of the Ubuntu project. If your main priority is a streamlined system, then quite frankly you should be looking at something targeted at that rather than complaining about Ubuntu. Besides, it is not as if Ubuntu doesn't run just fine on moderate hardware. I'm using the Gutsy beta on a 5+ year old workstation my dad's job threw out because it was "old" as an example.
    • Re:Well duh! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corychristison (951993) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:33PM (#20976167)
      I've got an older system here... I built it roughly 5 years ago (I think -- I may be over-estimating). It's an AMD Athlon XP 2500+, 1GB OEM RAM, 120GB SATA Hard drive, and an Nvidia FX 5200 video card (I think)...

      I used to run SuSE 9.1 and was running it fine for 3 years or so... then came time to try and upgrade to a newer version. Of course this is right around the time that Novell bought SUSE and changed it up a bit. So an easy upgrade was indeed not possible. I decided to try out a few distributions but had a lot of problems finding one that would work fast and I ended up on Gentoo. I know, I know, compile time was a pain in the ass... I decided to go down the XFCE route and use all of the lighter-weight GTK programs... I think I only have one QT program that I actually use installed and it only depends on QT, nothing else.

      Xubuntu ran O.K... but not anywhere near as nice as Gentoo is. I think it's not the fact that it was compiled and optimized... I beleive it's because during installation I learned more as I set it up. And I knew what I wanted/needed to run the system. Whereas Ubuntu makes a lot of choices for you, mostly in system services, etc. I have a total of 29 items that start up when I boot. I think only 10-15 of them are actually daemons. Right now I am using 215MB or so of my 1GB of RAM... this is with Firefox (4 tabs), Thunderbird w/Lightning, aMSN, Terminal, Mousepad and a whole slew of items on my panel.

      If you want lightweight, make sure you know exactly what is going on your system. And use something like XFCE or Fluxbox versus KDE or Gnome.

      Just my two cents. :-)
      • by xenocide2 (231786)
        Indeed, Xubuntu can help with older PCs. And if you want, you can go even more minimal. The default CD's install (x|k?)ubuntu-desktop by default, but you can ask to install something like ubuntu-minimal instead. It might require the alternative installer, I haven't tried it.

        Gentoo's case for optimizations and the like is massively overstated. If you dig into debian packaging, you'll see that debug packages have optimization off, and debhelper packages build with -O2 by default, and the gains to be had from
      • It's an AMD Athlon XP 2500+, 1GB OEM RAM, 120GB SATA Hard drive, and an Nvidia FX 5200 video card (I think)

        That's not even close to the very machine whose browser I'm using right now, and that I use every single day when I come back home. I'm running every kubuntu version since edgy on this machine, each one making it faster and smoother to use, I'm currently on Feisty because the Gutsy driver for my wireless card is acting a little funky, but I tested it and it runs even better and faster. (Summary of
      • by AvitarX (172628)
        I don't know what your point is.

        I have a fully bloated Ubuntu 7.04 install with extra stuff running (hellanzb, amorakk, 2 firefox windows with 6+ tabs each, flash plugin, open office and more). I am using 550MB of memory. Still a ton of breathing room on your (or my) 1GB.

        In fact looking at mem usage I have:
        soffice 78MB
        Firefox 75MB
        Compiz.real 30MB (first so called bloat) (let's not forget that whatever XFCE uses has some memory footprint too)
        Deskbar-applet 29MB (I am guessing most of that is the search fea
    • Here, if you want to use Ubuntu and don't like the default configuration, do what I always do - download the alternative install CD, then:

      1) Do a minimal command line install
      2) Install fluxbox/lightweight manager of your choice + some basic GTK libraries/or whatever you want
      3) Download some of your favorite programs

      There, minimal install with no extraneous daemons whatsoever. At first there will be a lot of downloading because it has very little on it, but in the end you will be left with a clean system tha
    • by McDutchie (151611)

      What ever happened to minimal?

      It still exists [slackware.com], you might want to give it a try...

  • by Cryophallion (1129715) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:58PM (#20975935)
    Actually, I think it is rather impressive that 7.10 (which has eye candy on by default) has slightly less power consumption than 7.04 (no eye candy by default).

    In other words, they increased features while decreasing (generally) power consumption. While it seems to be only about 1 or 2 watts lower (excepting battery idle where it is slightly higher), we are only talking 3-5 watts difference over 2.5 years of updates. In fact, it went down 4 watts using ac idle compared to 5.04, which I am sure had far fewer daemons/features.

    Some of this may be better code etc. However, I think we should be giving the people who have been doing the coding here major Kudos for doing getting the most out of our computers (whereas MS wants us to quadruple our ram to use eye candy, they are doing it with the same amount of ram standard 4 years ago on a desktop, and keeping power down). I don't even want to think of what Vista must use in power.
    • by bjourne (1034822)

      Actually, I think it is rather impressive that 7.10 (which has eye candy on by default) has slightly less power consumption than 7.04 (no eye candy by default).

      Eye candy has nothing to do with it. When the computer is idle there is no eye candy and all processes should be sleeping. But some processes like daemons needs to wake up intermittently to check for various conditions. For example, the battery monitor needs to regularly update its display of how much battery power is left. It is these wake ups that consume power when idling (except for the ambient power draining from the hardware).

      So if the idle power consumption increases it means that the wake ups ha

  • AMD64 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Nimey (114278) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:07PM (#20975999) Homepage Journal
    Laptop users may want to stick with 32-bit Ubuntu, since the CONFIG_NO_HZ (tickless kernel) option isn't available in 64-bit kernels yet.

    If you're feeling adventurous, patches here: http://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/people/tglx/hrtimers/ [kernel.org]
  • I can believe that (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:09PM (#20976011) Homepage
    I was pretty amazed with the beta of Ubuntu 7.10. I even installed it on my system, but after about 30min-1 hour of use, trackerd was consistently keeping my CPU usage up at least 30%. That's not the fault of the Ubuntu team, as they did not write trackerd, but they really do need to be careful about the daemons that they allow to run in the background on a default installation. I don't know what it is there for, but according to this description [eyrie.org], it doesn't sound like it is something that a vanilla, desktop installation would want on there. The approach to background processes should be the KISS. On a vanilla desktop installation, only the barest set of such thing should be on there.
    • by Dolda2000 (759023) <fredrik@dolPASCA ... m minus language> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:22PM (#20976095) Homepage

      I don't know what it is there for, but according to this description [eyrie.org], it doesn't sound like it is something that a vanilla, desktop installation would want on there.
      That's not the trackerd you're looking for, though (for future record: You may want to try dpkg -S /usr/bin/trackerd, followed by dpkg -s $PACKAGENAME to find out what it is). Trackerd in the latest Ubuntu is a desktop search thingie, similar to Spotlight or whatever the Vista thing is called. I'd imagine that the load you were seing after about ½-1 hour of use was that it was still busy indexing your preexisting files. Once it gets past that, it gets quite calm in my admittedly limited experience.

      The approach to background processes should be the KISS. On a vanilla desktop installation, only the barest set of such thing should be on there.
      If that's what you want, maybe you shouldn't be using Ubuntu?
      • by obi (118631)
        Maybe tracker shouldn't do initial indexing of preexisting files while it's on battery... could be an idea for a feature request?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by EvilRyry (1025309)
          There is an option to not index while on battery power. I know in earlier alphas that option didn't actually work, hopefully that is fixed by now.
  • too much crap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:11PM (#20976025)
    There are way too many daemons running on modern Linux systems; it really shouldn't require separate processes for I/O, settings, hardware configuration, every little panel thingy, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So what are the alternatives?

      Either you bundle them in one horrid complex mess where maintainability gets inverse squared with any new feature, or you simply don't use the feature at all. With lots of separate daemons you have the option to axe those you don't want/need and the rest are benefiting from a modularized way of looking at things.
  • by g0dsp33d (849253)
    Usually, aren't the only people that care people running servers? Laptops hardly qualify. I only glanced at the article, but I'm willing to bet that they couldn't be bothered to test each operating system repeatedly and scientifically. I'm willing to bet that if they had the difference would have been statistically negligible. A few seconds of battery life isn't much to write home about, unless your running back to it because you forgot to save something...
  • For an actual linux story, this is what i read for, not the 2000 stories about the iphone, or how bill gates cant get into nigeria, more of these stories please!
  • Good but... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @04:40PM (#20976203)
    I really wish they put Ubuntu next to latest XP, latest Vista and latest OSX (ok I guess they could wait few days for Leopard to get out).

    As an XP user, two Ubuntu tests don't give me a clear picture of how this relates to the OS I use right now. I do suspect Ubuntu will have lower power consumption than XP, and for Vista the margin will be pretty wide.

    But how much exactly..?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by darthflo (1095225)

      I do suspect Ubuntu will have lower power consumption than XP, and for Vista the margin will be pretty wide.
      In my experience it's the other way round. XP would use the least energy with Vista and Ubuntu eating up quite a bit more (Ubuntu usually being worse than Vista).
  • Linux applications have undergone a Progression in order to try and stay on par with Windows and OSX. To offer greater services and compatibility than Windows can, Linux is trying to compete with applications that have a very small yet main stream arch of compatibility. Putting them at an advantage. They use less electricity because they have less stuff to run because they are FAR less compatible.

    That being said, there is something to be said about using better discipline in writing Linux applications. Tha
  • 30 Watts? WTF? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zdzichu (100333) <`zdzichu' `at' `irc.pl'> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @05:20PM (#20976445) Homepage Journal
    There must be something very wrong with tested system or Ubuntu configuration. 30 watts idle consumption is very, very wrong. My Thinkpad z61t idles at 13-14W with Ubuntu 7.04 Feisty Fawn. I expect lower value after upgrading to 7.10. And maybe even lower when I roll my own latest kernel with patches from lesswatts.org. I would be happy to go to 10W on idle, it would match advertised 6.25 hr worktime with 65Wh battery I have.
  • The main problem with power consumption is a "We no longer care about CPU cycles" attitude among many programmers, especially among the KDE and Gnome crowd. Why is there a daemon for every little thing programs could formerly handle by themselves or through libraries?

    Like gconfd for parsing configs and watching them for changes. Or dbus, as if there were no othere proven methods for IPC, that don't require another daemon idling around and waking up every other millisecond eating away battery life. Or just l
    • by Ash-Fox (726320)

      The main problem with power consumption is a "We no longer care about CPU cycles" attitude among many programmers, especially among the KDE and Gnome crowd.

      I heard the opposite with KDE, in particular I heard they want to use things like QT4 because it will consume less resources for the equilivant functions, but can also do new things without requiring such CPU intensive workarounds. I believe I read this in a aKadamy article.

      Or dbus, as if there were no othere proven methods for IPC, that don't require an

  • Powertop Numbers (Score:2, Informative)

    by sciurus0 (894908)
    On my Dell 1420N (2GHz Core 2 Duo on the Santa Rosa chipset) with an up-to-date Gutsy, a few minutes after logging in to GNOME powertop reports 190 wakeups from idle per second and a power usage of 12.6W. After following all of powertop's recommendations (including disabling bluetooth and reducing wifi power), wakeups and power usage went down to 58 and 11.4W respectively.

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