Monitoring Notebook Battery with IBAM

Dmitri Popov

Productivity Sauce

Dec 08, 2009 GMT
Dmitri Popov

While KDE, Gnome, and Xfce come with dedicated graphical utilities for monitoring notebook battery, you might still want to use IBAM to keep an eye on the battery parameters directly from the command line. IBAM stands for Intelligent Battery Monitor, and it "uses statistical and adaptive linear methods to provide accurate estimations of minutes of battery left or of the time needed until full recharge." In layman terms, this means that IBAM provides a more accurate estimate of the remaining battery life and charge time. IBAM does this by creating a battery and charge profile from which it can compute the actual times.

To find out the remaining battery life (or charging time, if the notebook is plugged into the mains), simply run the ibam command. As any command-line tool, IBAM supports a number of useful command line parameters, and you can get a quick overview of the available options by running the ibam --help command. My personal favorite is the -a (or --all) option which displays detailed information about the battery. --plot is another nifty option which generates a chart of battery life and charge time. On Ubuntu, IBAM is available in the Universe software repository, so installing the utility is as easy as running the sudo apt-get install ibam command. If using IBAM from the command line is not your cup of tea, you will be pleased to learn that the utility is also available as a plugin for the KGrellM graphical system monitor. To install the plugin on Ubuntu, use the sudo apt-get install gkrellm-ibam command. You can then enable the installed module in the Plugins section of the GKrellM Configuration window.


  • Real-Usage Data

    Although acpi will give you information about your current charge, the point of this article is not simply about viewing battery information in the CLI, but rather that this is a program that records real usage data about the charge/drain of your battery in order to provide a superior estimate. That being said, I have not yet tried the program so I don't know how much more accurate it is than information straight from acpi.
  • acpi is installed by default on most distributions

    no need to install anything -- simply type 'acpi' when you want to see battery status.
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