OpenSuse 11.2 virtually unusable on battery power: HP dv8000 laptop

I recently bought a 12-cell (extended-life) battery for my HP dv8000 AMD Turion64 laptop. While the extra battery life is spectacular, the machine is virtually unusable when not plugged in. Either the hardware or the OS (I’m not sure which) seems to view each of the 12 cells as a separate battery, so whenever a cell nears depletion and the machine prepares to transition to the next cell, the computer slows to a standstill, as though it were shifting into an extreme version of Powersave mode. This can last for several minutes at a time, during which period all I can do is stare helplessly at my screen.

I have all but disabled Powersave features in the Power Management applet, setting the laptop to Performance mode on both AC and battery power, with Powersave only kicking in below 10%. So that isn’t the source of the problem. I have also disabled Compositing and all desktop effects, except the mouse pointer application-icon animations that appear when I open an application, which I can’t figure out how to disable. All this to no avail.

Plug the machine back in and it zips along at a merry Linux pace. I don’t want to keep it plugged in all the time, though, because a) this is a laptop and therefore should be mobile; and b) keeping a charged battery plugged in drastically shortens its battery life. Besides, this is a brand-new battery; it should still be working fine.

Is there anything I can do to resolve this issue?

If you create a new user account and login with that. See if there is any difference. Regardless of your current settings, it’s not unknown for user configs to get borked somehow. Doing this will just help to isolate the issue.

You said it is a new battery, presumably to replace a basic battery?
So is this issue New to the New battery or did it happen originally?

The issue is most certainly related to the new battery. I never had any problem like this with the original (presumably 6-cell) battery.

I will try creating a new user account, but I’m not sure how to do that efficiently. I’m sure there’s a menu for that somewhere. (EDIT: Ah, yes, YaST2 users.) So you are suggesting I log in as the new user, operate on battery power, and see what happens?

By the way, I just now realized that there is a Laptop sub-forum. I apologize for not placing this thread there and promise to be more vigilant in the future. Mods, feel free to move this thread if necessary.

You got it.

Let us know how it goes.

I basically punted and installed Xfce 4.6. While it’s meant customizing a lot of my settings over again, and my laptop volume buttons still don’t work yet, I have no more battery problems. Which is awesome. I bought the battery because the previous battery was shot and I had to keep my laptop plugged in. While I was using KDE, though, I also had to keep my laptop plugged in, which defeated the whole purpose of having a laptop. Now that I’ve installed Xfce, my laptop is actually mobile again. And fast to boot. I notice that I can use Gmail in Firefox under Xfce, too, which was impossible with KDE.

Though the GUI is hardly sexy, there are a lot of little things I like about Xfce so far. For example, it’s a lot easier to set up startup programs. Configuring syndaemon as a startup process was a breeze; I was never able to figure out how to do it in KDE.

Based on my (admittedly brief) experience so far, I’m thinking of making Xfce my default GUI.

Good on ya for coming up with a solution.

While you are playing with Xfce, another desktop to consider is LXDE. Its even more lightweight than Xfce (and with less features) but it will fly on such a relatively powerful computer.

Unlike gnome and kde where the users bicker all the time , from what I have seen the Xfce developers (and hopefully users) will continue to support each other.

LXDE is not as mature on openSUSE as Xfce, so that may be a negative aspect. There is a liveCD for LXDE for openSUSE-11.2 (look here: Derivatives - openSUSE ) and LXDE will be an option in openSUSE-11.3 when it comes out later this year.

I am installing LXDE as we speak, but I won’t have time to test it tonight. I am in deathly need of sleep.

I notice that my laptop is still treating each cell of the battery as a separate battery. So whenever a cell runs low, I get an unobtrusive message telling me the laptop is running on low power. However, unlike in KDE and Windows XP, I don’t notice any reduction in performance. I wonder what it is about this battery that causes my laptop to monitor it as a collection of batteries instead of a single unit.

Thanks for your help on this issue. It’s nice restoring a 5-year-old laptop to usability without paying out of pocket to upgrade hardware.

Another nice thing about Xfce is that I have not yet received any General Fault error messages. I was receiving those every few minutes in KDE, necessitating a reboot.

If the observation is accurate, then IMHO that reads like a hardware failure. I honestly can not see desktop software having any influence over implementating that sort of functionality. Possibly the only place where desktop/power-managment software would come in to play would be its capability to survive such an anomalous state.

As a note, my previous post was not clear. What I meant to say was the Xfce developers and the LXDE developers work together, and that is superb to see. Hopefully the Xfce and LXDE users will do the same, and it sets an example that would be nice to see wrt KDE and Gnome users working together instead of bickering.

I forgot to mention, there is a new LXDE IRC support channel, which is on “freenode” and IRC channel #opensuse-lxde.

So after you get LXDE up and running, install the program “xchat”, and then run xchat, and select “freenode”. Once on “freenode”, in the xchat menu type:

/join #opensuse-lxde

for lxde specific support, or in the xchat menu type

/join #suse

for openSUSE specific support

That will give you reasonably quick almost real time support, as opposed to the somewhat slower support you will see on our forum. Also, the LXDE IRC channel has the desktop packager for LXDE for openSUSE often logged in, and he knows his stuff wrt LXDE.

I agree with oldcpu here.

If the observation is accurate, then IMHO that reads like a hardware failure. I honestly can not see desktop software having any influence over implementating that sort of functionality.

On the following from the OP.

I notice that my laptop is still treating each cell of the battery as a separate battery.

Each cell is connected in series to reach the required voltage,if you use 6 cells to supply that voltage,what I would consider to be the normal for a 12 cell battery would be 2 lots of 6 cells connected in series , and then those 2 lots connected in parallel to give the extra charge life .

These battery packs also have an over temperature sensor in them , if either the sensor (inside the battery pack),or the hardware that reads it is faulty I feel it could cause your problem.

As an example , a lightweight desktop will put a lot less load (read heat) on the batteries than KDE for example.And so behave better.

If the battery takes considerably longer to charge than expected I would suspect the battery temp sensor.

If not I would look at the laptop hardware itself.

The issue is most certainly related to the new battery. I never had any problem like this with the original (presumably 6-cell) battery.

I would check that sensor (they can be faulty from new).

Interesting you should say this. I had the laptop recharging the entire night, powered down, and the battery never fully recharged. How do I go about checking this sensor?

By the way, there are a lot of things I like about LXDE. The front end is prettier than XFCE, and it handles my laptop volume buttons automatically. However, it seems almost as laggy as KDE with respect to the battery issue.

If there is no option to do so provided by the BIOS, my guess is it is not possible.

In spacecraft batteries, we typically have multiple sensors that have sort of a “voting poll” with a “majority rule” of the reading, so that if one sensor fails its not “game over”. However needless to say, laptop batteries are a bit less expensive than those for a spacecraft rotfl!

[/QUOTE]If there is no option to do so provided by the BIOS, my guess is it is not possible.[/QUOTE]

Short of connecting a multimeter to the sensor wires and monitoring the output while running the machine ,or disassembling the battery pack and monitoring the temperature and the sensor output while heating the sensor.(neither should be attempted unless you know how).
oldcpu is probably correct.

however you can possibly get an idea by after running the battery flat , recharge it and feel the temp of the battery at intervals during the charging process .do the same with your old battery and see if there is a major difference.

I notice also that you mention XP is that also on the the machine if so what is behavior there?

XP is no longer on this machine. I reformatted the hard drive before installing Linux. However, I did have the same problem with the new battery under XP.

Interestingly, when the computer is plugged in, the battery charges in much the same as it discharges: as though it’s a collection of smaller batteries. The meter cyclically will move up to 100%, then back down, then back up again until the battery is fully charged.

Xfce handles the situation the best of all the configurations I’ve tried; however, below 25% battery charge, even it gets laggy. This is despite the fact I have turned off battery-saving features and have the laptop running in Performance mode.

reading that the problem was also there with another OS tends to confirm a hardware problem.

Is there a warranty on your battery?

Is the battery designed for this particular model laptop?

Interestingly, when the computer is plugged in, the battery charges in much the same as it discharges: as though it’s a collection of smaller batteries. The meter cyclically will move up to 100%, then back down, then back up again until the battery is fully charged.

The only battery packs I have taken apart and repaired were quite old,things may have moved along since then.

Xfce handles the situation the best of all the configurations I’ve tried; however, below 25% battery charge, even it gets laggy. This is despite the fact I have turned off battery-saving features and have the laptop running in Performance mode.

I would expect diferent problems from low voltage to this,It sounds like your BIOS is taking over here,can you go in there and check for possible setting changes you may need.

quoting myself here,

Each cell is connected in series to reach the required voltage,if you use 6 cells to supply that voltage,what I would consider to be the normal for a 12 cell battery would be 2 lots of 6 cells connected in series , and then those 2 lots connected in parallel to give the extra charge life .

These battery packs also have an over temperature sensor in them , if either the sensor (inside the battery pack),or the hardware that reads it is faulty I feel it could cause your problem.

These battery packs have become fare more complicated thanks to the abundance of cheap electronics, As I found with a few checks,my previous statements still hold true at the most basic level, but they can now even have there own version of a BIOS.

Can’t any thing sit still for 2 seconds?

I checked my BIOS settings and not surprisingly, the CMOS editor doesn’t give any provision for checking the battery. HP does offer a BatteryCheck utility, but Wine doesn’t seem able to run it.

Hi. Saw your problems. Running an HP dv9000 for past 3 yrs. Let’s start anew w/battery OK? First, shut down complete, remove battery, then unplug machine. Next, remove battery. then w/unit face-up, open your notebook as though to use it but: Do Not plug it in. With no power still (or plug in) depress and HOLD the power button for approx. 90 seconds; this will drain the ‘cap’ capacitor that’s dedicated to battery sense. Now, install battery as normal, and again: Do Not plug it in. Re-open the unit and power on either w/hard key or ‘soft’ key at panel above keyboard. Notice the amount of power? If system boots, fine. Read battery monitor to deterrmine how much power remains. If it did have enough power remaining to boot ----Do Not plug it in, start something that will completely drain (start a movie, or banshee or something heavy on graphics, etc.) Idea here is to *completely drain that battery! If no boot, using power cord, start to recharge system (go ahead and use while recharge if you want). Pay attention to length of time for complete charge! should be about 1 1/2 -to- 2 hrs. avg. Now, either case (above) once you have complete charge, make sure — I say again—be sure that whatever usage style you have you must completely drain (before recharge) the battery each time you use it. By each ‘time’ I mean before recharge. IOW, never recharge batt when it gets ‘low’, say 20% or whatever—even though it may be convenient to do so! Lithium batts and NiCad batts (lithium not so much…) must be ‘trained’. Think of brushing your hair to get it to ‘know’ where to be :slight_smile: In any event, a 6 or 8 cell requires such attention about 3-4 cycles for ‘training’. Your 12-cell will require 6-8 of these (inconvienient) cycles. Anyway, once you do this, you’ll be all set. Just remember to complete-drain / complete-charge and you’ll be OK. Then, every 4-5 'cycles pull that puppy out, hold down that power key as above, and your batt will last at least 3 years. If still have same probs after that hit the forum or send me an email; HP will just have to give you another unit! Take care, HTH.