Heat Management in Linux

When you first switch from Windows or OSX to Linux, one of the things you’ll probably first notice (especially if you’re using a laptop) is that it can run considerably hotter than the alternatives. There are a few things you can do to remedy this, however. The following software packages help you keep track of and cool down your laptop/netbook, how much will depend per machine but my HP Pavilion dm1 goes from around 60-70degrees without these tools installed to around 50-60degrees and the same goes for my older Acer Travelmate which dropped from 70-80degrees to 60-70degrees. Hopefully this information will help you shave off 10degrees from your laptop, making it cooler, easier to use and hopefully extending its life a little too!

lm-sensors

First thing that you’re going to want to do is be able to see what the temperature readings of the components (that have temperature sensors) inside your computer/laptop. This can be done by installing lm-sensors:

sudo apt-get install lm-sensors

Now you’ll want to run the script which probes all the possible sensors in your laptop:

sudo sensors-detect

You’ll be asked if you want to scan for sensors and what not, follow the on-screen instructions, mostly just pressing enter, if YES is written in capitals this is the default answer and it will scan. After several times it’ll ask you if you want to save the changes, make sure you do and then you’re done.

Now you can see the temperature the sensors are reading by using the following command:

sensors
cpufreq

cpufreq is a utility which scales the frequency of the CPU, either by monitoring the systems status (if it needs more, it’ll get more) or by user controlled settings. This essentially underclocks the CPU while it isn’t in use, reducing power usage and thus heat.

Installation:

sudo apt-get install cpufreq

The best choice would be to set cpufreq to on-demand (default) or to power-saving. Alternatively, if you’re using a laptop or netbook let jupiter take care of it for you:

jupiter

Jupiter is a light weight power and hardware control applet for Linux. It is designed to improve battery life of a portable Linux computer by integrating with the operating system and changing parameters of the computer based on battery or powered connection.

Additionally, Jupiter provides quick access to some of the commonly needed hardware controls like screen output and resolution, WIFI, and bluetooth.

If you use Linux on a portable computer, let Jupiter take the effort out of going mobile.

By using this to intelligently control the CPU frequency when on battery and AC along with the tuning to the kernel and hardware, it can make a huge difference to the temperature expelled by your laptop.

Ubuntu 11:10 installation instructions: here

Graphics Card Drivers

If you have a dedicated graphics card in your laptop, you’ll also be better off installing the proprietary graphics drivers provided by the hardware vendor. While the open source ones do an awesome job of getting the card to work, more often than not they don’t include any control over the frequency scaling and keep the card running at max, along with all those other little features the card has, they’ll probably all always be running.

Nvidia : Link
ATI/AMD : Link

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