Which Linux should I install to get my Optimus system to work


I own a Lenovo Thinkpad W530 with a Nvidia Quadro K2000M and I have installed Ubuntu Gnome 14.04 LTS x64 on it. At the moment I am using the nouveau driver and it is working, but I am not satisfied with this. There are refresh problems and artifacts on external monitors, gnome-shell crashes on other annoying bugs…

Unfortunately the proprietary nvidia package does not work, Ubuntu isn’t starting after installing these and it seems that there is no proper way to use the nvidia driver and an external monitor. This would be only possible with bumblebee and restarting the XServer every time I want to switch to an other display setup.
So I was wondering about using an other distribution like Arch Linux or similar. And I heard the nvidia optius drivers would work great with wayland. Is this correct? And which distribution would you recommend to me?

Thank you!

Can nobody help me or at least give me some ideas?

You might want to read this https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/NVIDIA_Optimus for Arch or this https://wiki.ubuntu.com/X/Config/HybridGraphics for Ubuntu, which are exactly the same thing. It is the official optimus solution. It’ll give the best performance you can have, but everything will always run on the nvidia card.

Until now I always read the German Ubuntu wiki. In the wiki on ubuntu.com I found an interesting sentence:

A MUXless system with an Intel card and an NVIDIA discrete card.

What does this mean? Do I have to set the graphics settings to “Discrete”, “Intel only” or “Optimus” in the BIOS? Because I guess my Thinkpad W530 does have a MUX.

Of course I tried the exact same installation process as mentioned in the wiki. But after reboot my system won’t start again. I have to open the recovery console and manually reinstall ‘xserver-xorg-video-intel’ and ‘xserver-xorg-video-nouveau’ to get it working again.

If you want to only use the Nvidia card, select “Discrete”.

If you want to only use the Intel card, select “Intel only”.

If you want the flexibility to use either, select “Optimus”.

For simplicity and best performance, at the expense of more power drain & heat, select “Discrete”.

If you want accelerated graphics + beeing able to switch between discrete (= Quadro K2000M) and Intel (CPU integrated graphic chipset) you just have to install the drivers using the jockey:

This screenshot was made under Unity but you can do the same with gnome or whatever.

After the installation is done reboot and launch “X server settings”; you will have “PRIME” settings.
Note that if you want to change between discrete/integrated GPU you need to log out and log in again.


Technically you can use any Linux Distro… one of note that is gaining popularity is ones based on Arch Linux. If you wish for a more simplified distro of Arch? Check out Manjaro Linux, which comes with nVidia Optimus pre-setup.


Right on the main page a review snipplet even sasy “Manjaro Linux targets beginners and advanced users at the same time. We provide user interface tools and scripts to make life easier. Manjaro supports NVIDIA’s Optimus technology out of the box… – Philip Müller”

Here’s the fascinating story of me and my nVidia K1000M graphics card on Linux:

I installed Arch at first, soon to realize nothing really works out of the box and feeling too old for struggling with drivers and kernel modules, I switched to Manjaro.

Manjaro linux is overall really a charm, one of the best distros out there, but I was using it with my on-board intel graphics card, which is really OK until you realize the VGA/DisplayPort ports are wired to the nVidia chip.

So at first I tried Nouvea. With Nouvea, it boots. But you are in for random crashes every now and then which is really a mess when you’re working 10 hours a day with your computer and you have enough on your plate being a developer and all.

Then I tried the proprietry nVidia driver, but neither of the repository or official nVidia website versions of the driver work. The latter crashes right after the boot, and the former has some inconsistency with the XOrg server, and I literally tried EVERY Xorg.conf file proposed on the internet, but every single on of them would fail.

I must say, before all this, I tried bumblebee wishing for a clean and easy solution to my problem, and bumblebee DOES work on Manjaro with my card, but you can’t really use it with Intel Virtual Output, so if you’re in for CUDA or Optirun it might get you what you need, but you can’t use it for the second monitor.

So I switched to Ubuntu Gnome 16.04 wishing for out of box graphic card support. It does support the graphic card out-of-box, but as expected, it provides Nouveau by default. Nouveau on Ubuntu doesn’t crash all the time, like in Manjaro. So if the second monitor is all you need, you should be good to go.

But as you know, any open-source driver will haunt you later when you’re about to do some high profile activity, like Virtual machines and CUDA and games and everything.

Be advised installing nvidia-current or nvidia 340 on Ubuntu would CRASH your operating system with nVidia K1000M.

So here we are. I’m currently using nouveau, as I need the second display and nothing else works properly.

And for the record I’m a developer and I’ve been using Linux for 8 years so if I can’t get it running with 2-3 days of effort, I think it’s safe to say more than half the users wouldn’t be able to do it.

Special thanks to nVidia for their awesome support in Linux. I would’ve been way better off with a decent on-board intel graphic card.