Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Week Linux Challenge - Day 6

Day 6
Ubuntu Updates

     Windows updates are stupid. They're obtrusive on so many levels, it's no surprise people shy away from updating any WinOS and their programs; It's absolute chaos. There's no one system by which you can download and update even groups of programs. Sometimes when you start a program it'll tell you that it's out of date, and require a redownload, some have auto-updaters, some have annoying pop-up boxes (cough flash java cough). It's a catastrophe, because there are updates that keep your system secure, or updates that are crucial to the stability and performance of programs. 
     Another area that Ubuntu shines is it's one click update process. Whatever you install through Ubuntu's Software Centre gets automatically updated when you run the Update Manager app. Not only are you guaranteed the latest version for all your programs, but the latest updates for your Ubuntu install as well. Even new Kernel versions are pumped out through the Update App. This means that you'll always have the newest, safest, fastest version of your OS available. This is a nice change from having to manually update 15 constantly used programs on my system. 

Ubuntu Battery Life
     These six days are obviously not going to yield all positive things. And it would be naive and unfair of me to give nothing but positive news. In terms of usability, Ubuntu reigns supreme, but it's lack of driver and overall hardware support takes it's toll on the battery.
     When I was running Windows 7 on this machine, it had great hardware un-clocking tools that would turn down the processor, and save battery whenever possible. It even allowed for manual power control. I could easily get ten hours from a full charge. 
     Ubuntu on the other hand treats laptops with a blanket 'power saving' mode. There are no drivers available through the Lenovo site for x220 machines, and when I e-mailed support about any plans to support Linux, I received no reply. On a full charge, I get three to four hours of web-browsing, and three when doing video playback, even less if I have things running in the background. 
     I tried a program called 'powertop', which allowed me to change some things called 'tune ables', which were supposed to provide a little more battery life, but in the end the amount I gained was minuscule, and when I restarted the machines the tune ables reverted back to stock settings. It just wasn't worth it.
     Is this a huge factor for me? Yes and no. I don't travel much, and I don't find myself in a situation where I'll need more than three hours of battery without access to a outlet very often, but it is a pretty significant power drop over the Windows battery life. 
     I'm kind of hoping that the recent reveal of the Ubuntu Tablet OS, Canonical will pay a little more attention to the limited power of batteries.


  1. I have a x220 with the 9 cell battery. I get 10 hours of battery life.

    Install the laptop-mode-tools package and update to the 3.8 kernel. You should be good then.

  2. Canonical made pretty good progress with Ubuntu 12.10 update - on 12.04 my laptop had about 3 hours of battery life (windows was about 7h), and now on 12.10 it shows almost 6 hours. There's definitely a lot of work to be made in terms of drivers, but first results looks really promising.

    Same thing with graphics - when Valve introduced Steam for linux, Nvidia finally started updating their drivers for linux platform (somewhere I read that recent updates gave twice bigger performance that was before)

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