Article: How to keep your laptop cooled down

Matthew Frederico mfrederico at
Tue Mar 20 10:37:28 MDT 2007

I know this is long, but I am posting it here as it is relevant to the linux
community - and hopefully poor souls experiencing 2nd degree burns because
of their laptops will find this useful.

     I recently had a very, dare I say, "heated" install of FC6 on my laptop
(HP Pavilion DV2000).  I was running Windows XP 32bit on it beforehand and
it stayed cool, performed as expected, and everything was copecetic.
Suddenly and without warning adware reared its ugly head in the form of
viagra pop-ups on my screen.  Then almost on cue a week later, I realized it
had some virus that kept crashing my computer whenever I would attempt to
quarantine it.  That was the LAST straw. I turned to old reliable: Linux.
FC6_64 to be exact.

     To cut to the chase, I didn't do anything magic with FC6_64, but it
SURE did get hot.  So hot in fact, that it was almost too hot to touch the
thouchpad on my laptop!  For days I dug around and realized it was my HARD
DRIVE causing so much heat.  I resolved to fix it.  Besides, beryl eye-candy
was worth it right? (Yay, burning windows!)

    I dug and dug in.  Some of this may be redundant, but I have left it
here to clarify what is going on, and what / why I did what I did.

Bare in mind my main goal and objective is to eradicate any unneeded hard
drive access so as to "cool down" my laptop.

How to keep your laptop "cool"
# /sbin/hdparm -W 1
- Caveat,  it does say "DANGEROUS" in the list of parameters if hdparm.
Don't be scared!  In reading posts from the hdparm maintainer, he says it is
perfectly safe.  If the POWER goes out,  don't fret,  you have a battery in
your laptop and your work should be saved.  This option increases the
overall performance of your laptop experience dramatically. What this means
in terms of cooling is hard drives now have time to spin down and cool of
for a bit before committing a write to disk.

laptop-mode - (
- This is a nifty little setup that adds some great power saving concepts
into your laptop where you can set up different profiles for on AC, battery,
hard drive spindown timings and more nifty little power saving attributes.
He has a great FAQ page that explains a lot about  where and when to use
laptop mode.

# yum remove beagle
- I recently discovered this little bugger running OVER AND OVER .. I'd kill
it, and it would LIVE again.  Seeing as I have NO clear idea how to use it -
nor usefulness FOR it - I removed it.   Why does it exist? According to the
docs, this is safe as it is simply a plugin to Metacity and everything
else.  Now my hard drive doesn't blink all the time while browsing.

/etc/fstab options
- Also according to multiple sources, noatime is the "proper" option for
most filesystems - as there is really no reason for them to "check" the file
access time -- Every 5 seconds!!  Those of you who rsync lots of files
should take notice.   Activating this in my /etc/fstab filesystems makes a
difference in disk access.
e.g.:/dev/VolGroup00/LogVol00    /    ext3    noatime    1 1

- Apparently, Firefox LOVES /tmp files.  Ram is cheap, so I created a small
(128MB) ramdisk for /tmp - and now firefox, and other programs that like to
write to /tmp no longer access the hard drive.
e.g: none     /tmp/     tmpfs    noatime,size=128    0 0

# /sbin/chkconfig syslogd off;/sbin/service syslogd stop
- Before there is weeping and wailing, my laptop is a workstation.  I don't
plan on doing anything I can't get from dmesg.  I'm not running a mail
server, not running anything mission critical that I'd need to log anything
for.    I am trying to rid myself of  heat exhaust from my hard drive.  I
needed to remove the mere possibility that syslogd "could" cause it to

- Oh, and remember the /tmp dir?  If you were feeling tricky, you could
write all your logs to there instead!

I really hope this post helps others with their laptops, and keeping the
temperature down and perhaps increasing the performance as well.

Best Regards,

-- Matthew Frederico
Office: (801) 938-4071

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