Support for Optimus

I though that Optimus would be supported in the latest drivers and kernel (3.9+), however, it seems like most people claims you still need to use Bumblebee, that it is only patrial, that it is fully supported, and so on.

I did try to check with the latest Ubuntu 13.10 daily build, but the nVidia card can still not even be found in the update setting window.

I do believe I have a 540GT card, don’t have the laptop in front of me now, so can’t double check, but I assume this support will count for all Optimus cards? Where can I find some more trustworthy information about this than several users on other forums claiming the opposite things?

Found this:

Nvidia: We have no plans to support Optimus on Linux at this time.

This is rather old, so it might have changed since then, but it would be nice to know. I might have to get a new laptop. Now that Steam will focus on Linux, I will go back to PC for gaming, and I would like a suitable laptop, and have to decide between nVidia, ATI and Intel. I would really like an honest reply from the nVidia guys so I know if I will have to look elsewhere,that support is on the way and it is just a small wait, can turn Optimus off in the bios (have not checked that … ) or through software, and so on.

Optimus is supported from upward of Kernel 3.9, you also need nvidia-prime for Ubuntu and Kernel 3.8 raring. However its different from Optimus in Windows where Nvidia card is off unless needed and for basic tasks, rendering etc is done by Intel. Here Nvidia runs all the time doing everything and Intel is just used as sink. Problem is heat and power consumption goes up.

Thanks for the information.

Does this means that in for instance Ubuntu 13.10, I will only need to check software update manager for drivers to install the driver for nVidia?

Don’t think it will be that much of a problem considering power consumption, since this laptop is always plugged. Since the laptop will be used mainly for gaming, heat will probably an issue anyway, since the nVidia GPU will probably be running most of the time.

If you are installing 13.10, most likely it would be installed out of the box and won’t need any intervention. Otherwise you can install it through hardware drivers applet.

I did install 13.10 final beta yesterday (Tuesday 08:00 here now). Without the nVidia-driver (only nouveau driver), the mouse flashed a lot! Really annoying, and that did not happen with the default drivers in 13.04.

I ran something like “sudo apt-get install nvidia-settings nvidia-prime nvidia-319”.
The drivers did still not pop up in software settings.

What happened:

When I rebooted, the secondary screen was turned off by default. So I went into nVidia Settings, there it was put to disabled for some reason. I enabled it, and saved the changes, and was told to restart.

Now I got a message saying that there is something wring with my graphical settings, and I need to fix it myself manually. I can not get into my graphical session and I would never figure this would make such a problem.

Try 12.04.3, 13.10 is still in beta.

So 13.04 does not work?

Nope, it doesn’t have the patched 3.80 nor the support for nvidia-prime

Thanks for the tips! I will give it a try it out later today. I see the kernel is under 3.9 (it is at 3.8 in 12.04.3), so might have to upgrade that.

The LTS 3.8 Kernel has been patched to work with nvidia-prime and also newer xorg is used for this in 12.04.3

Great, thanks again for the information! The ISO is downloaded. Will update on how it went tomorrow :)

The exact same problems occur now. This is what I do:

I installed Ubuntu 12.04.03, then ran this command:
“sudo apt-get install nvidia-prime nvidia-setting nvidia-319”

After that I restarted. Having my HDMI inserted, I only got two black screens. I took out the HDMI, and after a forced restart I got an image on the laptop screen. After I bootet up, I inserted the HDMI to the external LCD, it didn’t work, but I didn’t loose the desktop on the laptop.

I then went to the settings to look there. I did the same thing as I did on the 13.10 final beta. Activated the second screen.

After that I did not get in to the desktop again. This time at least I took a backup, and can test if it is nVidia that runs. Will problems with secondary screens be fixed later?

I also noticed that I had no drop-down menu to choose resolution, this had to be typed manually. Is this how it is meant to be?

On my Optimus system, I never need to install any nvidia drivers. During installation of Ubuntu, its automatically installed. My HDMI is detected when I plug it in and works right out of the box.

The nouveau driver is installed by default it seems, but not the native nVidia driver. That has never been done in Ubuntu. Some distributions, like Mandriva, Sabayon (I believe), and so on, use the proprietary drivers by default.

I do also have some graphical issues with the nouveau drivers on my laptop that causes a flashy mouse that did not occur in 13.04, but also, the open drivers can not yet compete with the closed one to nVidia:

Seems like nVidia recently gave out lots of documentation aimed to help developing better open source 3D support. If this leads to rapid development in the open source drivers, and that they manage to match the closed ones, it could also be suitable.

Does any developer know when and if we will get full support for Optimus for nVidia’s native drivers? I need to know since I might have to get a new laptop for this. My choices are either wait for support in coming drivers, and meanwhile deal with bumblebee, prime or however people get the nVidia drivers to work. Look for laptops with nVidia not using Optimus technology. See how ATI has progressed. Or see how well Iris Pro performs (I assume Intel support is as good as usual).

Its done on my system when I install from USB with 12.04.3 Optimus full switching support is coming in Kernel 3.12 but Nvidia needs to implement it. Currently you can use other distros to run Bumblebee. I run Manjaro with kernel 3.11 and nvidia 325 and Bumblebee runs fine.

I would actually like to approach this from another angle. It has been stated that bumblebee and nvidia-prime (that is, xrandr offloading while the card just stays on) cannot work together, which is a reasonable expectation if you only ever use one X server. That is the case for 99% of people.

However, I have been running my games under a separate X server for years, so it would be just as well if my regular X server only ever ran intel, and then I could turn on my card to start the second X server (maybe using bumblebee?) and use xrandr offloading to do all the rendering on nvidia, then turning the card off when the second X dies. My understanding of the situation has gaps, I’m sure, but the way it seems to me is that in this specific use case, which nobody has thought about yet for good reason, bumblebee and xrandr offloading could work together.

Is this possible? How would I need to modify bumblebee and/or nvidia-prime to make this work? Or is my understanding of this situation fubar?

I do install from a USB too. Use one USB as multiboot with several distributions, since it is easier to keep track of than having lots of CD/DVDs.

I really don’t want to install anything manually. It should not be harder than look for additional drivers, get it listed there and let the Update Manager sort out the installation and setup of the drivers. But that will not happen with this release most likely.

Will try again when Ubuntu 13.10 gets out. Or see if it is a distribution that comes with proprietary drivers configured for you out of the box.

If you are looking for out of the box installation with Bumblebee and latest Nvidia, look no further than Manjaro where its installed right out of the box if you select non free option and it also lets you run latest kernel 3.11 with it.

Don’t care much about what I use as long as it works with as little fuss as possible. Guess I’ll just as well give it a try, been curious for Manjaro for a while. Will download and try it out :)