Miserware Energy Saving Software now cross-platform

Perhaps you will recall the Miserware power saving software I blogged about last year?

I’m still running it on all of my machines here and it has been great – I really don’t notice it at all. It just sits in the background and according to the logs is saving between ~20% & ~60% power consumption by my various CPUs. And that’s just what it should do.

Miserware have just (18th Jan 2010) started a new trial programme to celebrate the introduction of the first Beta of the power saving software for that [ahem] other OS, Windows. The trial itself and entry into a competition to win iPod Nanos or Asus PCs is open from today and the Micromiser software is available for: Vista, Windows 7, Windows XP, Debian 4.0, 5.0, unstable, Fedora 8, 9, 10, 11, RHEL 4.7, 5.3, SLES 10 and Ubuntu 7.04, 8.04, 8.10, 9.04, 9.10.

If you want to try it out and join in the trial and competition just follow this link to sign up.

Note: Do please note that (on Linux at least – am not sure about Windows as I don’t use it) there is a script you should run after installation called mw-feedback. It sends back textual information about your hardware. This is a plain text file of mine for Lobsang so you can see what it contains. The purpose is so they can identify any hardware issues with the beta software and also verify the widest range of solutions for which the product is suitable.

Update on Miserware Beta – Power Saving on Linux

It’s well over a week now since I started using the Miserware MicroMiser software. I have it installed on all the Ubuntu PCs we have at home and on two laptops too. I have noticed no adverse effects from running the software. In fact you really do forget it is there. (The Micromiser software is packaged and available for easy install on Debian and it’s many derivatives, Fedora, RHEL, and SLES too so you are not limited to just Ubuntu’s Linux)

When I’m travelling around London (as I did quite a bit this week) I tend to take my 10″ webbook netbook device as it is lightweight and easy to cart around. For comms, I have a 3G dongle that gives me Internet access from virtually anywhere. [Ask Daviey just how handy that was the other day 😉 ]

Now, this is by no means a scientific result and I haven’t had time to actually do a proper comparison with and without the Miserware code, but I reckon I’m getting around 30mins more life from the battery since running the Micromiser software. Before installing the code I was getting between an hour to an hour and a half or so of battery life, so I guess that that would equate to an average improvement of around a third.

Those 3G devices get really hot after being on for an hour! They make a really nice hand warmer in the winter though 😉 My lappy is running Ubuntu 9.04 desktop.

The Beta trial is still active and running and Miserware are very happy to have more subscribers sign-up. So If you would like an invite, leave a comment here and I’ll get on it asap.

One point that came up from a couple of people who were interested in taking part in the trial was to do with some restrictions on what you could say publicly about your observations. I am happy to say that Miserware have updated the license to be a little clearer and allow for more information disclosure. Here’s the text of the mail (with obfuscated email address) I received regarding the changes:

Dear MicroMiser beta participant,

Thank you for your involvement in the MicroMiser beta! The response so far has been tremendous and well beyond our expectations. The information we are getting when you run the mw-feedback script is really helping us improve our products and documentation.

The license you agreed to when registering for the beta said you needed permission from MiserWare to publish data reported by our software. We would like to lift this requirement to some extent by allowing you to share performance and power numbers reported by MicroMiser. More precisely our lawyers told us to say it like this:

“You are hereby authorized to disclose information regarding the performance of the MicroMiser software, provided that such information is provided to you in a MicroMiser software report.”

This includes any information (including energy savings information) provided by MicroMiser in any of its log files and/or information reported in tools such as the mw-feedback script which reports system specific information to MiserWare thereby aiding future development and earning you points in the incentive program.

Several folks have asked about benchmarking against other power management software. With regard to benchmarking, we want to clarify the intent of the license. Our intent was not to preclude benchmarking altogether, but to ensure the measurement methodology is fair to all parties. More precisely, our lawyers told us to paste both permissions together:

“You are hereby authorized to disclose information regarding the performance of the MicroMiser software, (i) provided that such information is provided to you in a MicroMiser software report, or (ii) provided that such information is obtained using techniques approved in writing by MiserWare.”

There is no need for you to sign another license agreement as these clarifications simply give you additional permissions under the original license.

These clarifications are the result of your feedback. Please continue to send your comments to f–db–k at miserware dot com . We promise to keep listening.



So, if you want to help these guys with their Beta, and get on the incentive program too (I’ve just won and received a really cool green iPod Nano) simply leave me a short comment below.

Power Saving Software for Linux

My friend Alan sent me an invitation to sign up for a beta trial of MiserWare‘s MicroMiser power saving software.

MiserWare MicroMiser is an intelligent software power management solution for x86 servers, laptops, and PCs running Linux. MicroMiser automatically optimizes a system to use energy more efficiently without compromising performance or availability. The MicroMiser Power Management Daemon (see below) when installed on a server, laptop, or PC, matches the energy consumed by the system to the load on the system automatically. MicroMiser typically lowers total system energy use by 10-35% even when a system is 100% utilized. MicroMiser also tracks the energy saved for use in estimating cost savings and carbon emission reductions.

I have installed it on 4 PCs so far and all seems to be fine. Installation is very simple as the download is in a deb or rpm package.

I am especially interested to monitor any battery-life performance improvements on my laptop computers and any savings to my always-on–home-server will be most appreciated. The site has downloads for most of the recent Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, RHEL, and SLES distributions.

It appears to work on VIA C7 chips, and Intel Core2 8X00 and mobile T5000 series. Well, it does for me.

As you can see above, the company claim between 10 and 35% power savings with this software which is definately not to be sneezed at in these frugal times.

If you would like to take part in the beta, leave a comment below (I need your email address, which is not shown if you just fill in the comment form boxes) and I will endeavour to get you an invite.

Australian FOSS Advocates Miss-a-Trick (IMHO)

I found this on my Google News reader this morning.

Australia’s open source community leaders have written an open letter to Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for consideration of free and open source software in the implementation of the Digital Education Revolution for the National Secondary School Computer Fund.

The letter, signed by 10 local open source professionals, calls for greater use of free and open source software in schools, particularly with the election promise of $1000 to fund a computer for every secondary student in the country.

You can read the letter in full at the same URL: www.techworld.com.au/article/251554/open_source_community_pushes_canberra_school_computer_fund, bet here’s the key paragraph:

We urge you to consider the cost-saving implications of advocating the use of free and open source software in schools to further the aims of the digital education revolution and maximise the impact of this critical investment in the future.

Although I applaud and condone the sentiment behind the letter, I can’t help but feel that concentrating on one single aspect of FOSS (the cost) was rather missing a trick here. As we approach the BETT show next week and my head is firmly in FOSS-in-Education mode right now I think there are other really great features of FOSS that are in my opinion at least as, if not even more, important than cash:

  • The Freedom to Study the software. As Alan Bell so eloquently put it the other day, this freedom to study should be mandated by all Governments where educational software is concerned. When you attend other types of creative classes (woodworking, car mechanics, chemistry for example) the whole point is to learn how things work and how to use tools to make new stuff. With ICT (as it is called here in the UK) based on proprietary software, you cannot even ask how it works, or how it could be improved. Talk about how to kill curiosity.
  • The second point that greatly concerns me, is that by relying on proprietary software in the publicly funded education sector, when your children come home with digital school work (in proprietary binary formats), the educator is essentially expecting every parent to buy and use the same software as is used in schools. At the very least, schools should be also mandated to use Open Standard Formats for digital documents so that parents are free to choose what software suits them rather than be dictated too.

So, whilst I do wholeheartedly support the goals of the request in the letter to the Australian minister, I really think they have missed an opportunity to highlight other significant benefits of FOSS to the wider community as well as just the teachers.

On a technical level, there are other significant benefits too: Virus and Malware Freedom, increased reliability, extending life of existing hardware, flexibility to change (want to use/test/investigate Suse, Fedora, Ubuntu Server? Simple).

Of course I may be lacking some information as to why the letter is so brief and succinct. Perhaps it is about as long a letter as the minister is capable of reading or something, but I’d love to hear more on this from those in-the-know so to speak.

Whilst I’m thinking about it, perhaps we could all collaborate and come up with a list of compelling and virtually inarguable reasons for why our educators should be using FOSS wherever possible.

Come on then. Give us your best shot!

The Sourcerer’s 1st Apprentice?

I received an email the other day from a self-acclaimed apprentice. Rather than trying to comment or analyse Ben’s learnings to date, I’ll leave Ben to speak for himself and you to make up your own minds…

Greetings!  And thank you for a most entertaining and informative site.

I am rambling towards a serious point.  Children’s computing and affordable online security using Linux.  A  grandchild called Gabriel features,  with his ‘new’ sixth birthday ruggedised laptop.  More of this later on.

I cannot claim the title of sourcerer -  one day, maybe.

But even apprentices can get lucky, especially if they persevere.  This apprentice is an old Unix enthusiast from 1981, constrained to use MS in the name of conformity by employers and clients alike.  Retired now!

I even paid good money for the Mark Williams Company’s “Coherent” clone of UNIX, way back when.  Excellent, great fun, but it had to go when the then employer wanted their Compaq  back.  Then time rolled by, and the opportunity passed.  <sigh>

……. for the last couple of years we have been free, yes, free I say!

It started with an AMD desktop  box with SuSE 10 that smoked XP when running X-Plane (we used this as a CAD tool for aircraft design verification).  35% faster on the same box.   Wow!  Meant we could save the money for a new box for another year, maybe two. That was a significant saving.

OK, it was ‘fun’ getting the drivers sorted for OpenGL, but we had help. That was one of the great revelations – the amazing amount of help one can find – often faster and better informed than mainstream OS support.

Then we discovered that far from needing to keep  SuSE 10 offline in order to protect our main earning tool from online nasties, it was more than capable of protecting itself, and updated itself smoothly and effectively when connected. No more Norton! No more AdAware!   It just works!  Wow.

By pure apprentice-style experimentation – we had found out that we could telnet into our cheapo  Actiontec ADSL WiFi router, and that once logged in this way we had a prompt that read:    root#_

Our router/firewall was a Linux engine running Busybox.  About the size of a pack of cigarillos, and not much more costly.  Amazing. The impact this had on me was immediate. Curiosity was ON.

After some careful study the vanilla SuSE 10 installation defences turned out to be even  harder than our firewall box!
This is obvious to many, but it was a big happy surprise for us. If there is one thing I hate it is the drudge of updating and running malware scanners and such.  Too cheap to go for the paid option, and had some nasty surprises from the big name vendors too.

A quick trawl around had me downloading ISOs and burning CDs and trying out live distros and then installing them pretty much at random.  Ubuntu really appealed – and Xubuntu was installed on the old Tosh laptop, still running today.  Fabulous forums.

I have got used to Evolution, and swear by Bogofilter – works better on our industrial quantities of spam than SpamAssassin.

My wife enjoys computer games – but guess what? after raiding the Ubuntu repositories and making sure that OpenGL was good to go, the variety and quality of the sort of games that she prefers was judged hugely superior to that on Windows. By her.

So she won the Toshiba, and we put Ubuntu 7.10 on her desktop too. She says repeatedly that the Linux desktop is far more user friendly because :  “…. it is easier to go back, and not get stuck”

So far, so ordinary.  Family discovers free software. Yawn. But there must be many parents faced with what follows….

More distant family members had a problem – young Gabriel had been increasingly monopolising his family computer for over a year, and he was approaching his sixth birthday.  Not a lot of money around, so choice was limited.  Given the size of his room a laptop was ideal, but the price? Laptops can be delicate, too.

A few keyboards had already been ‘disabled’ on his family desktop, and cheaply replaced, but laptop keyboards can be hard to obtain as well as pricey.  Good hardware was critical to a good result.

A used Itronix GoBook was the answer, found on eBay at around 55 quid depending on spec, fully ruggedised, water resistant keys, solid alloy case, and tough as old boots. We  bought a couple.

They work OK, and run surprisingly long on the ancient batteries, over 3 hours with light use.  Not bad for 2001 hardware.

The OS supplied was Windows 2000, a variant of Windows NT and the CPU fitted to these was panting under Norton 07;   AVG not a lot better.  So Windows web access was disabled, and
Xubuntu 8.04 installed in another partition.

Xubuntu’s  significantly lighter weight  XFCE desktop was just light enough for the Pentium III running 700 MHz (divided by 2 remember, that’s 350 MHz in real money), but it was still
a bit slow loading – well the HDD is slow, so fair enough. We can live with that.

Once tweaked up, we had Batman wallpaper and sound theme, with the compositor in XFCE giving a good imitation of Aeroglass ™ on less cpu than my Palm.  Amazing.  Gabriel was suitably stunned, and even his computer-savvy older brother was impressed.

More to the point he had a proven OS that is more immune to nasties than the best maintained Windows machine we have seen, and since all the software is from the Ubuntu repositories, no fiddly admin intervention is required to update weekly.

His mother need never worry about updating a raft of nagware; Firefox is as well-blocked against unsuitable sites as anything else available – and all in free software!  The total cost of ownership of this laptop is what we paid for it.  No annual Symantec tax, no long hours (add it up annually) updating things to protect Windows from its own inadequacies.

For a single mum, that time is priceless, not to mention the money.

With Gcompris and stacks of Linux  educational software on board, Gabriel has a machine that is (hopefully) good for the rest of his time at first school. He can learn/use Windows 2K if he wants to, but without the risk of connecting Windows to the internet.  The Win drivers have
been ‘got at’ .

And thanks to the Batman wallpaper/sounds, it has ultimate cred with his school-friends.  No problems there, then.  A rugged OS that has street cred, educational value and is hardened against attack at no ongoing cost in time or money – all at the popular price.

The last word should be Gabriel’s – whilst staring at the BSOD on a Win system he said with the gnomic aplomb of the young:-

“Mine doesn’t do that…. this computer is  bad.”

All the best, Ben Mullett

We are big fans of Knoppix and DSL – they work so well at their intended tasks, and Puppy Linux is remarkable – VestaPup and MacPup are particularly good fun.

Gabriel will doubtless wish to update his wallpaper/theme eventually, and then we have the fun of showing him how…..

Many thanks for the great email Ben. You don’t sound like much of an apprentice to me; more like an “old hand”. I think you have passed with distinctions and may consider yourself a Sourcerer (there’s no formal exam or certificate – enthusiasm and passion are what really count)! And I’m certain Gabriel will be sure to follow in his Grandad’s footsteps 🙂

Your comment about Firefox,

… Firefox is as well-blocked against unsuitable sites as anything else available – and all in free software!

is amazingly poigniant at the moment as the debate rolls on as to just how “Free” Firefox really is. But the sentiment is sound.

Please point Gabriel to this post – I’m sure he will be delighted to read about his computing activities on-line… If you wish, send me a picture of the laptop (and/or Gabriel or yourself) and I’ll add it to this post so we can all see; a ruggedised and water-resistant PIII lappy running Xubuntu sounds cooler than Iceland!