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My laptop, running Ubuntu 11.10, doesn't recognise that a battery is installed until I pull it out, then put it back in again. This presents a problem when I boot up from battery. Why is this?

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Depending on your brand of laptop, this could be a known bug. It might be fixed with updated BIOS as in the case of Acer here:

http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1066981

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