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Normally I can slip my running laptop into a backpack, go somewhere, and if it's no more than about half an hour later, it'll still be running. At the destination I plug in the AC power unit and all is well. I run it off of the AC unit before and after the trip, have the screen at less than full backlight brightness, and don't have any peripherals that burn power.

Sometimes the wireless switch accidentally slides in the backpack, and that causes extra power to be used and the laptop dies before I reach the destination. Sad, but so be it.

But sometimes the wireless switch is off, I've reached the destination in less than 30 minutes (typically 10-20 min), and I know the battery was fully charged, yet the machine is off. Is there a way to determine, after the fact, why the machine shut itself off?

I'm running Linux on a fairly powerful Gateway with 4GB RAM, fancy nvidia graphics, dual core cpu, chosen more for number crunching power than battery life, but should last easily for half an hour if not an hour.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

The laptop is most likely overheating. Why don't you put it into hibernate mode for your journeys? You are risking permanant damage to your laptop by leaving it running in an enclosed space (not to mention the effect of shock on your hard drive).

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I would use hibernate mode if I knew how to do it. –  DarenW Mar 6 '10 at 18:54
    
@darenw: It should be in the same place as shutdown. Look for "suspend" or "hibernate" (suspend to RAM or disk, respectively). –  Zifre Apr 17 '10 at 13:57
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My first guess would be it either ran out of juice (recalibrated your battery?) or it started to overheat, and that shut him down. How much is your fan working after you take it out ? How much do you hear it in "normal" work (while on a desk/solid surface ...) ?

Although I admit doing it a few times (covers head) laptops are not generally made to be running while in a backpack.

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I think best solution is to put laptop to a sleep mode before transporting it. However, it happened several times for me that laptop woke up while in the bag. I still have no idea what could have caused that. –  Sergiy Byelozyorov Mar 5 '10 at 0:52
    
@Sergiy Byelozyorov - agree. Hibernation would be even better (talking xp here). –  ldigas Mar 5 '10 at 2:47
    
Linux can hibernate as well (AKA "suspend to disk"). –  sleske Mar 5 '10 at 3:24
    
so we are wondering not about just powering off, but waking up. seems like there'd be something in dmesg or some log file. –  DarenW Mar 6 '10 at 19:12
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