Dell battery performs worse under Linux

I have recently bought a Dell XPS Touch. I’m dual booting Windows 7 with Fedora 16 (Verne). Right out of the box, Fedora reports 1 hour 26 minutes of battery life at full charge, while Windows reports a whopping 4 hours!!

Why is this happening? Am I missing some acpi module or something?

A friend suggested to me that this could be due to the fact that I’m using nouveau instead of the proprietary nvidia driver. Does that sound reasonable?

Update

I am now on Debian Wheezy and still the issue persists. Removed Fedora tag.

Asked By: Joseph R.

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Are the reported values realistic? If so, check how much your CPU is throttled e.g. in /proc/cpuinfo – if it doesn’t run on lower frequencies without heavy load, it’s just burning power for no reason (well, you could warm your breakfast on it). Adjusting display backlight might also help.

Answered By: peterph

Dell XPS seems to have an Nvidia hybrid (Optimus) graphics card. With correct driver setup, only the low-powered intel card is used, if you run more demanding applications, there’s an automatic switch to the other card.

By default, this is not supported (to my knowledge) in linux systems, and this is why the power consumption is so high: it uses the full power all the time. There’s a project called bumblebee, that adds support for such hybrids, so you can switch them on and off manually.

Bumblebee Project

On my dell (not an XPS), this worked wonderfully and got me up to the expected five hours battery time.

Answered By: Simon Hellinger
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