I've been using Ubuntu for the past four years, but I recently bought a Dell Mini 1012, and while Ubuntu 10.04 is wonderful in every way, it is giving me quite poor results in terms of battery life, compared to Windows 7 which is also installed on the device. I have been able to get 4.5 hours out of Ubuntu, compared to the 8 hours I have been able to get with Windows 7 Starter. I have tried everything suggested here in order to get better battery life out of Ubuntu, but without success. I'm wondering if I might have better success with another distribution. Are there any Linux distributions available that can claim longer battery life than others, on netbooks and in general? This question can be answered objectively if it is backed up with hard data from based on benchmarks, so I'd most appreciate answers linking to such cases.
A bit old, but see Poll results: Which Linux distro is best for netbooks (June 30th, 2008) :
The winner is Ubuntu with 68% votes.
However, I would like first to remark that there isn't really any "best distro", because they all include the same Linux kernel, so the difference is in their set of packages. It is more up to you to configure a minimal system.
Second, unless your hard disk is very small, having one package more or less doesn't change much for battery life, unless the package includes a service that is on all the time (but most such packages are not included by default).
Third, there are some tricks to extending battery life, like under-clocking the CPU.
You might also have a look at lubuntu :