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This questions is loosely related to Does dual boot harm a laptop battery or reduce its life?. In that question I have asked if Dual boot decreases battery life. Here I have asked, does Ubuntu decreases battery life.

Does Ubuntu decrease the life of the battery?

I dual-booted my laptop with Ubuntu 17.10 and Windows 10 one year back. After one year, my laptop battery backup has reduced to 40 minutes. The answer provided in the above link says dual boot does not harm the battery. Hence I suspect that it might be possible that Ubuntu decreases the life of the battery. I don't know, but I have experienced that Ubuntu drains the battery faster than Windows.

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    I think a more reasonable cause of batery degradation would be related to the fourth topic (Don’t leave your laptop on permanent charge) in this article: link. – Ronaldo Jul 30 at 17:55
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    I downvoted because you are ignoring what people write and repeat your question all over the place. – Nobody Jul 30 at 18:29
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    @nobody And I upvoted because the actual answer is a nuanced, and its valuable to the community! (I also disagree with both you and GabrielaGarcia - and Ive done a significant amount of testing and research here.) – davidgo Jul 30 at 20:15
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    @Nobody I am not repeating my question .That question was related to dual boot , here i am just asking about ubuntu .If on that place would have edited my question after i accepted the answer then it would have been unfair .Also i am not asking this question just for self benefit since my battery is already dead.It will help others too .Also you can see the answer provided by davidgo is different from the answers provided on the link .Hence my question is bit different . – user1068838 Jul 31 at 4:22
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    Using the battery decreases the battery life. – n0rd Jul 31 at 9:46
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Without extra care, yes, although this can be mitigated/avoided, and the main cause is just wear and tear. The problem is not Linux per se, but the vendors' focus on Windows optimizations for battery life, and heavier power draw kills a battery faster.

The main things which degrade a rechargeable lithium-based battery are:

  • Heavy discharge
  • Full charge, particularly keeping full charge
  • Number of charge/discharge cycles
  • Heat
  • Storing battery fully charged/Discharge
  • Age - maximum capacity of a perfectly maintained battery still decreases with age.

Because Linux is heavier on the battery than Windows, the amount of heat is higher, causing faster wear. Similarly you likely have more charge/discharge cycles, because the battery is used more.

Some mitigations/trade-offs to improve battery -

  1. If your BIOS supports it, set maximum charge to less the 80% (or even 70%) - shorter work time, much longer battery life in net terms.
  2. Use powertop to reduce power draw.
  3. If you are a road warrior, try charging when you are not using laptop to reduce heat. Likewise a slower charger will do less damage.
    3a. It seems discharging from 80-40% once is less stressful than discharging 80-60% twice.
  4. Don't let your battery level fall below 20%
  5. Try keep the laptop comfortably cool. Leaving it on in a backpack causes heat buildup.
  6. Slow charging and/or using a larger battery causes less wear for a similar amount of usage, because it helps with the above.

(Where numbers are used above, they are indicative only.)

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    Because Linux is heavier on battery then Windows. Do you have any reference which proves this? I think there are tons of factors that get involved here, apart from the OS kernel itself.. – Xtreme Biker reinstate Monica Jul 31 at 5:59
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    @XtremeBiker there are indeed a ton of factors, and I am confident a well tuned Linux system can be tuned to perform similarly to a Windows system. Have a look at reddit.com/r/linux/comments/3mnnso/… (I was at the LinuxConf event where this took place, and I run Linux on my laptops and desktop). Importantly, no one tells you to run Powertop or TLP when you get a Linux laptop. Windows comes preinstalled and tweeked so you don't need to. – davidgo Jul 31 at 6:24
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    Why would Linux be heavier on a battery then Windows ? In my personal experience, Laptop batteries have performed better - lasting longer - with Linux running, compared to Windows. – Robert Riedl Jul 31 at 7:31
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    @PeterMortensen, but why would Linux keep the CPU busy ? Or rather: Why would it keep the CPU more busy than any other OS (BSD, Windows,..) ? I, as a Linux User, have made the opposite experience. But that's probably because I tinker with the OS a lot to try and get the best out of it. I bet someone else would have the same experience with their favourite OS... this $other_OS is heavier on battery then $my_favorite_OS is probably highly biased... – Robert Riedl Jul 31 at 14:25
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    Usually the problem is not because Linux keeps the CPU working more than Windows -- it's pretty much everything else. Storage devices are kept online longer, wifi isn't optimized and so on. The CPU is the least sinful of all your devices. – Clearer Jul 31 at 16:53
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Good answer by davidgo, and that should be your starting point for understanding and minimizing the issue. But the wording of the question implies that you're thinking about this in a slightly wrong way, and I'll focus on that aspect.

You keep referring to Ubuntu "decreasing" battery life, and that's not really an appropriate way to look at it. Say one OS is better than another at optimizing battery life. If you use the better one as a baseline, the other OS won't be as good in that respect, so it kinda looks like battery life is "decreased" in relative terms.

But really, "batteries decrease battery life". When batteries are a source of power, any battery is a disposable item. Everything you do or don't do affects battery life a little. davidgo's answer lists the major factors.

If one OS uses a little more power than another, that might lead to recharging more often. So some factors can affect other factors. But if you get the daily run time you need even with the OS that uses more power, you might recharge at the same frequency and from a discharge level that, for practical purposes, is in the same range. So your usage pattern may be a bigger factor than the OS.

The point is that batteries have a finite life. There are things you can do to optimize and extend the life a little. To the extent it's practical to do those things, they can't hurt. But finite battery life is a characteristic of operating from batteries. In the scheme of things, a few months difference in battery life doesn't represent a big cost. It doesn't make sense to let it drive important decisions.

Let's assume one OS is not as good as the other at optimizing battery life so it costs you a little more over time for battery replacement. You own the computer because it is a tool to help you accomplish things important to you. People spend extra money to get a keyboard or mouse that they can use more efficiently, or a high-resolution monitor so they can see more of their work at once. The same applies to the OS.

You pick an OS because of what it allows you to do, and things like the user interface that make it easier for you to get your work done. You don't pick it because one will save you a few dollars every couple of years on battery replacement. For that matter, if you are comparing Windows and Ubuntu, Windows costs money and Ubuntu is free. So if Windows saves you a few dollars on battery replacement, you haven't saved money, you paid for that in advance.

Ubuntu doesn't "reduce" battery life. It might yield a slightly different life. But as they say, "that's life".

  • You are right .My most of work is on Ubuntu and i like it .I will not remove it for saving few dollars :) – user1068838 Jul 31 at 4:32
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No.

How fast the capacity of a battery drops over usage cycles is largely independent of the software running on the laptop. It mostly depends on amount of charge cycles, average relative charge amount, temperature, battery controller (which is not part of the operating system) and a bunch of other factors.

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    This is wrong because Typicsl Linux (but not Android) is way heavier on battery then Windows because vendors optimise for Windows and ignore Linux. This is well documented, and unsurprisingly the experience of the OP as stated. – davidgo Jul 30 at 20:11
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    No it's not wrong; 1) Linux isn't way heavier on battery than Windows. If you have some piece of hardware where power savings aren't supported yet then yes; otherwise no. 2) draining the battery faster or slower before you charge it back up should not affect the lifetime of the battery. Unfortunately, the main culprit for batteries that wear out that fast is fast charging, which the end user typically has no control over. (I.e. if it took 8 hours to charge the battery instead of 1-2, the battery would last through many more charge cycles.) – user153822 Jul 31 at 6:52
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    @user153822 You should research before you make statements. 1. Power saving is nor a binary state of supported or not - its nuanced tradeoffs and design parameters. 2. The faster you drain the battery the more heat and faster it dies, also the more charge/discharge and/or greater discharge depth. 3. At last something on which we do not totally disagree, although speed of charge is only 1 part of the picture, and partly mitigated by slowing down as battery gets fuller. – davidgo Jul 31 at 9:15
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    @nobody that is a gross (to the point of being incorrect) oversimplification. Skim through m.youtube.com/watch?v=SMKTgXIPCLA to hear a Linux expert on the nuances. (Also, hibernate/suspend dont define hiw long you can actually do work in a laptop) – davidgo Jul 31 at 9:25
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    "... Linux ... is way heavier on battery then Windows ... This is well documented, ..." - If it's well-documented, can you provide sources? (I watched the video you linked in a later comment; it does provide some nice insights in the nuances and complications of power management, but there's nothing in there comparing OSses.) – marcelm Jul 31 at 20:16
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@davidgo , well the machines i've had got much better battery life in ubuntu than windows (especially with 4.18 kernel or newer.). I just didn't want to sound like some fanboi . Linux currently has a design that allows for more time in low power mode, and typical linux distro has fewer background scans and junk than windows allowing for lower power usage. But then if some driver (especially video driver) doesn't support going into low power mode then power use is nice and high. It pretty much is a binary state in these cases, like a gpu that starts up at 700mhz but supports 150mhz (but the driver doesn't) or (in the distant past) when a sata or usb controller wouldn't support the low power states on the ports (like almost turned off but can still detect when something is plugged in to power it back up.)

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