View Full Version : [ubuntu] Is it possible to have variants of a kernel, with and without Nvidia drivers?

October 27th, 2010, 10:09 AM
Hi everone!
It's my first post, but I migrated to ubuntu some 3 years ago. The thing was, everything was working so smoothly, and the forums were so helpful to me with what was already written, that I never needed to post any questions... and never knew the answer to other peoples questions :).

So first of all, thank you very much to all of you for all the great help and all the enjoyment this system has given me for the past 3 years, even if you didn't know I was enjoying it so much!

Now, to my question... I decided that, in a relatively near future (say in the next 3-4 months) I want to buy a new laptop. I'm all for portability, but I do some pretty heavy graphics work (I'm a crystallographer and use both molecular display, molecular dynamics and structure solution software). That's why, when I saw the alienware M11x, I thought this was precisely the computer I've always wanted.

Here's a link with information on the computer:

It had, to me, a further advantage, and that is that the discrete graphics card can be switched off per BIOS. At the moment I have a studio xps 1340, and I absolutely hate how loud it is, because the graphics card is always on, and how little the battery lasts.

For writing, surfing and so on, I actually don't need the big card, with the integrated one, it is more than enough. But of course, sometimes, especially for molecular dynamics sessions and, ok, ok, also for gaming :), the big one becomes necessary.

So I would not actually mind having to restart the computer to switch cards and what not, but of course, then the problem with the Nvidia drivers comes. As far as I know, if the Nvidia drivers are installed, and no Nvidia graphics card is running, it will mess around with your X11 configuration ands so on...

My question is, is it somehow possible to have a kernel installed twice, with two different flavors?
One flavor would have the Nvidia drivers on it, and so to boot to it I would just connect the computer, load BIOS, connect the graphics card, and boot to that particular Kernel in Grub.
The other flavor would have no Nvidia drivers, therefore, I'd disconnect the card on BIOS, boot to the other kernel, and be as happy as can be.

The only thread I've seen about this is this one:
And you will probably agree with me that it is not particularly informative beyond "yeah, it can be one"

Thank you very much for your help!