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Monitor the battery health and performance

In the panel at the top or bottom of the screen should be a battery indicator if you are running Linux on a laptop. It is very useful for keeping an eye on the amount of battery power left so that you don't run out in the middle of something important. The battery icon shows the state of the battery and it is fully green when there is a full charge and it slowly changes over time.

If you let the mouse over over the battery indicator a pop-up message is displayed that tells you how many hours and minutes the computer can be used for. Of course, it depends on what you are doing and power-hungry applications can exhaust the battery quickly while simple applications can enable you to exceed the estimated time left. The message also tells you the percentage charge left in the battery.

If you don't have a battery indicator in the top or bottom panel it can easily be added. Right click the panel and select Add to Panel from the menu that is displayed. You'll find an item called Battery Charge Monitor that you can select and add.

Left click the battery indicator in the panel and a menu is displayed. You can put the computer into Hibernate mode. This shuts it down, but the current state is saved so you can start up quickly and carry on exactly what you were doing before. There is also a Laptop Battery menu that shows the percentage charge remaining. Click tyhis and a Device Information dialog is displayed. This shows the status, percentage charge, vendor, technology, serial number, model, design charge, charge rate, and other information.

When the battery indocator is right clicked a different menu is displayed. Choose Preferences and the Power Management Preferences window appears. Here you can choose the settings for AC power, battery power and general settings. Select Power History from the menu and a very interesting dialog appears that contains a live chart that shows the power history by default. From the drop-down Graph-Type menu you can choose to display the charge or voltage history, charge and discharge time profiles and so on.

It is quite interesting and you can see when certain events occured, such as active and inactive sessions, suspend, resume, laptop lid closed and so on. Don't immediately panic if you see peaks and troughs in the chart because this is normal. Power usage goes up and down depending on which applications you run and whether they use the processor, sound, DVD, and other components, and how heavily.

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