Battery Powered Linux Mini-HOWTO: Appendix

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If you happen to be a Linux distributor, thank you for reading all this. Laptops are becoming more and more popular, but still most Linux distributions are not very well prepared for portable computing. Please make this document obsolete and change this for your distribution.

  • The installation routine should include a configuration, optimized for laptops. The « mimimal install » is often not lean enough. There are a lot of things that a laptop user does not need on the road. Just a few examples. There is no need for three different versions of vi (as found in Suse Linux). Most portable systems do not need printing support (they will never be connected to a printer, printing is usually done with the desktop system at home). Quite a few laptops do not need any network support at all.
  • Add better power management and seamless pcmcia support to your distribution. Add a precompiled kernel and an alternative set of pcmcia drivers with apm support that the user can install on demand. Include a precompiled apmd package with your distribution.
  • Add support for dynamically switching network configurations. Most Linux laptops travel between locations with different network settings (e. g. the network at home, the network at the office and the network at the university) and have to change the network id very often. Changing a Linux system’s network id is a pain with most distributions.

Please mail me if your distribution is optimized for portable computing and what kind of features you added for that. Future versions of this HOWTO will include a section where you can advertise your distribution’s laptop features.

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5.2 Credits

  • The information about battery technology is mostly based on the article « Stromkonserve » by Michael Reiter, published in « c’t Magazin fuer Computertechnik » (Heise Verlag Hannover, Germany), edition 10/96, page 204. Used by permission. Visit their website at
  • The following people contributed to this document:
    Frithjof Anders 
    David Bateman 
    Florent Chabaud 
    Markus Gutschke 
    Kenneth E. Harker 
    Bjoern Kriews 
    R. Manmatha 
    Grant Taylor 
    James Youngman 

5.3 About this document

The current version of this text and many other HOWTOs, most of them a lot more useful than this one, can be found at the main Linux documentation site or at one of its many mirror sites.

Most of this text was written during my trips between Hamburg and Hannover on German rail. (The new ice-2 coaches have power outlets for laptops, yeah!).

And now hum along with me: « …on the road again… »

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