PowerTOP is a Linux* tool used to diagnose issues with power consumption and power management. In addition to being a diagnostic tool, PowerTOP also has an interactive mode you can use to experiment with various power management settings, for cases where the Linux distribution has not enabled those settings.
PowerTOP is coded in C++. It was written for Linux-based operating systems.
GNU* libc (
glibc) and Linux
pthreads are needed for PowerTOP to function
properly. The GNU build system (
gettext, are required to build PowerTOP.
In addition, PowerTOP requires the following:
- kernel version => 2.6.38
pciutils-devel(is only required if you have PCI)
Example packages to install in Ubuntu*:
sudo apt install libpci-dev libnl-3-dev libnl-genl-3-dev gettext \ libgettextpo-dev autopoint gettext libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev libtool-bin \ dh-autoreconf autoconf-archive pkg-config
autogen.sh script needs to be run only once to generate
You need to re-run it only if the build system configuration files
configure.ac) are modified. The remaining steps are required whenever
source files are modified.
To build PowerTOP from the cloned source, use the following commands:
./autogen.sh ./configure make
The following sections go over basic operation of PowerTOP. This includes
kernel configuration options (or kernel patches) needed for full functionality.
powertop --help to see all options.
Kernel parameters and (optional) patches
PowerTOP needs some kernel config options enabled to function properly. As of linux-3.3.0, these are (the list probably is incomplete):
CONFIG_NO_HZ CONFIG_HIGH_RES_TIMERS CONFIG_HPET_TIMER CONFIG_CPU_FREQ_GOV_ONDEMAND CONFIG_USB_SUSPEND CONFIG_SND_AC97_POWER_SAVE CONFIG_TIMER_STATS CONFIG_PERF_EVENTS CONFIG_PERF_COUNTERS CONFIG_TRACEPOINTS CONFIG_TRACING CONFIG_EVENT_POWER_TRACING_DEPRECATED CONFIG_X86_MSR ACPI_PROCFS_POWER CONFIG_DEBUG_FS
Use these configs from linux-3.13.rc1:
The patches in the
patches/ sub-directory are optional but enable full
Outputting a report
When PowerTOP is executed as root and without arguments, it runs in
interactive mode. In this mode, PowerTOP most resembles
For generating reports, or for filing functional bug reports, there are two
output modes: CSV and HTML. You can set sample times, the number of iterations,
a workload over which to run PowerTOP, and whether to include
For an HTML report, execute PowerTOP with this option:
This creates a static
report.html file, suitable for sharing.
For a CSV report, execute PowerTOP with this option:
This creates a static
powertop.csv file, also suitable for sharing.
If you wish to file a functional bug report, generate and share a
debug-mode HTML report and share it, using the following command:
powertop --debug --html=report.html
Important Note: As PowerTOP is intended for privileged (
root) use, your
reports-- especially when run with
--debug-- will contain verbose system
information. PowerTOP does not sanitize, scrub, or otherwise anonymize its
reports. Be mindful of this when sharing reports.
Developers: If you make changes to the HTML reporting code, validate HTML output by using the W3C* Markup Validation Service and the W3C CSS Validation Service:
Calibrating and power numbers
PowerTOP, when running on battery, tracks power consumption and activity on the system. Once there are sufficient measurements, PowerTOP can start to report power estimates for various activities. You can help increase the accuracy of the estimation by running a calibration cycle at least once:
Calibration entails cycling through various display brightness levels (including "off"), USB device activities, and other workloads.
Extech Power Analyzer / Datalogger support
Our analysis teams use the Extech* Power Analyzer/Datalogger (model number 380803). PowerTOP supports this device over the serial cable by passing the device node on the command line using this command:
(where ttyUSB0 is the devicenode of the serial-to-usb adapter on our system)
Contributing to PowerTOP and getting support
There are numerous ways you and your friends can contribute to PowerTOP. See
CONTRIBUTE.md document for more details. Elevator summary: "fork, and
We have a mailing list:
- Subscribe at:
- Browse archives at:
If you find bugs, you can file an issue-- see
CONTRIBUTE.md for further
- File bugs/wishes at:
Code from other open source projects
PowerTOP contains some code from other open source projects; we'd like to thank the authors of those projects for their work. Specifically, PowerTOP contains code from
Parse Event Library - Copyright 2009, 2010 Red Hat Inc Steven Rostedt <email@example.com> nl80211 userspace tool - Copyright 2007, 2008 Johannes Berg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Copyright and License
PowerTOP Copyright (C) 2020 Intel Corporation This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; version 2. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details. You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301 USA
COPYING file for a copy of the aforementioned (GPLv2) license.
/* SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0-only */