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    Lightbulb nVidia Optimus and Ubuntu explained [UPDATED]

    Incoming transmission
    05 September 2011
    It would seem like someone is getting Optimus functional on Ubuntu Linux. See here:
    End of transmission
    First, all thanks go to Ubuntu China (
    1. What is nVidia Optimus?
    With Optimus, the system switches between the integrated (graphics) card and the independent card, so the user can obtain high performance by using the independent card, while a longer battery life can be obtained by using the integrated card.

    2. How it works (in a nutshell)
    High perf: Integrated + Independent. The independent card is responsible for calculations, and the integrated card is responsible for actually displaying the info from the GRAM.
    Low perf: Integrated only. In this mode, the integrated card is responsible for both the calculations and the displaying.

    In fact, the real displaying part is done solely by the integrated card, which means there is no way to use only the independent card, and there is no way to disable the integrated card. It is impossible, either by software or by hardware, to actually switch between the two cards.

    To those of you looking for drivers for Optimus: STOP. Just STOP. The newer nVidia Linux drivers, such as the 260.## release, are for purely independent cards, NOT FOR DUAL-CARDS (Optimus).

    Worse news:

    So what to do?

    After a fresh, clean install of Ubuntu, DO NOT INSTALL THE RESTRICTED DRIVER. Check whether your computer is running Optimus. If it isn't explicitly shown on the outer casing (as in my case), run:
    lspci | grep VGA
    If you have such an output or similar, showing both an Intel card and an nVidia card:
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev ##)
    02:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device #### (rev ##)
    You're humped. Again, DO NOT INSTALL THE RESTRICTED DRIVER. Basically just flat-out don't install any drivers. The system runs the integrated card fine, as as long as Modern Warfare II isn't ported onto Ubuntu you should be fine. My i3-370M + GT 420M runs Tux Racer mighty smooth.

    You may, however, be able to find some graphics card switching options in your computer's BIOS. You will need to check your own BIOS. If no switching options are present, then you may be able to switch off the nVidia card to save some juice: http://linux-hybrid-graphics.blogspo...tch-onoff.html
    That thing there is still very green, so proceed with caution is what I can say to you.

    What if I already installed the Restricted Driver, and now my computer is not booting X?
    1. Boot into Recovery mode (GRUB). Start failsafe-X.
    2. When you're in, go to System > Administration > Additional Drivers to deactivate the nVidia driver.
    3. Move Xorg:
    sudo mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.old
    4. Reboot. Intel card should kick in.
    I hope this post helps. All thanks go to the great Ubuntu community. All hail the great Tux!
    Last edited by 3602; September 6th, 2011 at 12:41 AM.

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