Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Make your system run cooler this summer

My system is nearly 11 years old - quite a feat! And yet, with limited resources, it becomes a necessity to use whatever is at your disposal efficiently and with regard to the future. In short, we, the poor, have to take care of our hardware.

Linux has superior capabilities when it comes to fine-grained control over your hardware. Features such as Machine Check Exceptions make sure you don't fry your CPU. But you can do a lot more to keep your system running cooler and healthier:

  • Check to see if the CPU and system fans are installed properly and are running at optimal speed. The vents for airflow should not be blocked. Above all else do not cover the CPU or the monitor! I've seen systems catch on fire because the owner thought to cover them with plastic bags.
  • Use processor clock modulation when you're not doing CPU intensive stuff. For example, I tend to leave my system on through the night when I'm downloading a new Fedora release. So what I do is, I use the powersave governor to reduce the CPU speed to a minimum, and turn off the monitor. I have a Pentium 4 based CPU, so my frequency scaling driver is p4-clockmod. Here are the commands I use:
  1. modprobe p4-clockmod
  2. modprobe cpufreq-powersave
  3. echo powersave > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor

  • When you want to do something CPU intensive, switch to the "performance" governor:
  1. echo performance > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor

  • You can use the "ondemand" governor too, which scales the processor frequency as and when required:
  1. echo ondemand > /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor