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Linux power supply class
Power supply class used to represent battery, UPS, AC or DC power supply
properties to user-space.
It defines core set of attributes, which should be applicable to (almost)
every power supply out there. Attributes are available via sysfs and uevent
Each attribute has well defined meaning, up to unit of measure used. While
the attributes provided are believed to be universally applicable to any
power supply, specific monitoring hardware may not be able to provide them
all, so any of them may be skipped.
Power supply class is extensible, and allows to define drivers own attributes.
The core attribute set is subject to the standard Linux evolution (i.e.
if it will be found that some attribute is applicable to many power supply
types or their drivers, it can be added to the core set).
It also integrates with LED framework, for the purpose of providing
typically expected feedback of battery charging/fully charged status and
AC/USB power supply online status. (Note that specific details of the
indication (including whether to use it at all) are fully controllable by
user and/or specific machine defaults, per design principles of LED
Power supply class has predefined set of attributes, this eliminates code
duplication across drivers. Power supply class insist on reusing its
predefined attributes *and* their units.
So, userspace gets predictable set of attributes and their units for any
kind of power supply, and can process/present them to a user in consistent
manner. Results for different power supplies and machines are also directly
See drivers/power/ds2760_battery.c and drivers/power/pda_power.c for the
example how to declare and handle attributes.
Quoting include/linux/power_supply.h:
All voltages, currents, charges, energies, time and temperatures in µV,
µA, µAh, µWh, seconds and tenths of degree Celsius unless otherwise
stated. It's driver's job to convert its raw values to units in which
this class operates.
Attributes/properties detailed
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Charge/Energy/Capacity - how to not confuse ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
~ ~
~ Because both "charge" (µAh) and "energy" (µWh) represents "capacity" ~
~ of battery, this class distinguish these terms. Don't mix them! ~
~ ~
~ CHARGE_* attributes represents capacity in µAh only. ~
~ ENERGY_* attributes represents capacity in µWh only. ~
~ CAPACITY attribute represents capacity in *percents*, from 0 to 100. ~
~ ~
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
_AVG - *hardware* averaged value, use it if your hardware is really able to
report averaged values.
_NOW - momentary/instantaneous values.
STATUS - this attribute represents operating status (charging, full,
discharging (i.e. powering a load), etc.). This corresponds to
BATTERY_STATUS_* values, as defined in battery.h.
CHARGE_TYPE - batteries can typically charge at different rates.
This defines trickle and fast charges. For batteries that
are already charged or discharging, 'n/a' can be displayed (or
'unknown', if the status is not known).
HEALTH - represents health of the battery, values corresponds to
POWER_SUPPLY_HEALTH_*, defined in battery.h.
VOLTAGE_MAX_DESIGN, VOLTAGE_MIN_DESIGN - design values for maximal and
minimal power supply voltages. Maximal/minimal means values of voltages
when battery considered "full"/"empty" at normal conditions. Yes, there is
no direct relation between voltage and battery capacity, but some dumb
batteries use voltage for very approximated calculation of capacity.
Battery driver also can use this attribute just to inform userspace
about maximal and minimal voltage thresholds of a given battery.
VOLTAGE_MAX, VOLTAGE_MIN - same as _DESIGN voltage values except that
these ones should be used if hardware could only guess (measure and
retain) the thresholds of a given power supply.
CHARGE_FULL_DESIGN, CHARGE_EMPTY_DESIGN - design charge values, when
battery considered full/empty.
ENERGY_FULL_DESIGN, ENERGY_EMPTY_DESIGN - same as above but for energy.
CHARGE_FULL, CHARGE_EMPTY - These attributes means "last remembered value
of charge when battery became full/empty". It also could mean "value of
charge when battery considered full/empty at given conditions (temperature,
age)". I.e. these attributes represents real thresholds, not design values.
CHARGE_COUNTER - the current charge counter (in µAh). This could easily
be negative; there is no empty or full value. It is only useful for
relative, time-based measurements.
ENERGY_FULL, ENERGY_EMPTY - same as above but for energy.
CAPACITY - capacity in percents.
CAPACITY_LEVEL - capacity level. This corresponds to
TEMP - temperature of the power supply.
TEMP_AMBIENT - ambient temperature.
TIME_TO_EMPTY - seconds left for battery to be considered empty (i.e.
while battery powers a load)
TIME_TO_FULL - seconds left for battery to be considered full (i.e.
while battery is charging)
Battery <-> external power supply interaction
Often power supplies are acting as supplies and supplicants at the same
time. Batteries are good example. So, batteries usually care if they're
externally powered or not.
For that case, power supply class implements notification mechanism for
External power supply (AC) lists supplicants (batteries) names in
"supplied_to" struct member, and each power_supply_changed() call
issued by external power supply will notify supplicants via
external_power_changed callback.
Q: Where is POWER_SUPPLY_PROP_XYZ attribute?
A: If you cannot find attribute suitable for your driver needs, feel free
to add it and send patch along with your driver.
The attributes available currently are the ones currently provided by the
drivers written.
Good candidates to add in future: model/part#, cycle_time, manufacturer,
Q: I have some very specific attribute (e.g. battery color), should I add
this attribute to standard ones?
A: Most likely, no. Such attribute can be placed in the driver itself, if
it is useful. Of course, if the attribute in question applicable to
large set of batteries, provided by many drivers, and/or comes from
some general battery specification/standard, it may be a candidate to
be added to the core attribute set.
Q: Suppose, my battery monitoring chip/firmware does not provides capacity
in percents, but provides charge_{now,full,empty}. Should I calculate
percentage capacity manually, inside the driver, and register CAPACITY
attribute? The same question about time_to_empty/time_to_full.
A: Most likely, no. This class is designed to export properties which are
directly measurable by the specific hardware available.
Inferring not available properties using some heuristics or mathematical
model is not subject of work for a battery driver. Such functionality
should be factored out, and in fact, apm_power, the driver to serve
legacy APM API on top of power supply class, uses a simple heuristic of
approximating remaining battery capacity based on its charge, current,
voltage and so on. But full-fledged battery model is likely not subject
for kernel at all, as it would require floating point calculation to deal
with things like differential equations and Kalman filters. This is
better be handled by batteryd/libbattery, yet to be written.