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I have a notebook (ASUS N43) with a geforce GT435M graphics card. This card has the optimus technology. The notebook has a blue/white indicator which shows when the geforce is active or inactive, respectively.

On windows it works perfectly, blue/off when idle, white/on when using Firefox for example. On the other hand, when using ubuntu (10.10, but upgrading to 11.04) it is always on even when I'm doing nothing. I suppose this is a problem related with linux's drivers right?

Two questions:

  1. Should I download and install nvidia driver from their website or stick with the one ubuntu comes with? Could the nvidia's driver solve the optimus problem?
  2. Is there any simple way to get optimus working on ubuntu/linux? I saw some websites with some projects (bumblebee) developing some drivers... does it work? Is it stable?

[UPDATE:] I followed @avilella's instructions and everything went well I guess. But the led continues to be always white meaning that the graphic is always on. Your example of google-chrome didn't work. The OpenGl gave me this results:

$ glxgears
Running synchronized to the vertical refresh.  The framerate should be
approximately the same as the monitor refresh rate.
299 frames in 5.0 seconds = 59.631 FPS

$ optirun glxgears
* Starting Bumblebee X server bumblebee
/usr/local/bin/bumblebee-enablecard: 1: ��: not found [ OK ]
1445 frames in 5.0 seconds = 288.877 FPS

What does it mean? What is that optirun? What improvements should I notice? So... my problem still subsists.

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1  
There isn't any Ubuntu's drivers per se. The preinstalled driver stack are open-source Noveau drivers. –  Oxwivi Jun 5 '11 at 14:58
    
What about that "X driver"? –  DiAlex Jun 5 '11 at 19:33
    
@DiAlex, please elaborate. Just to make things clear, Noveau drivers are for Nvidia. X is a display server, –  Oxwivi Jun 5 '11 at 19:44
2  
No, very little of the things you use are by Ubuntu and for Ubuntu. Noveau is one of the upstream projects that churns out bits of the programs that are combined to make distros like Ubuntu you use. –  Oxwivi Jun 7 '11 at 11:55
2  
Noveau, unlike ATI and Intel's open-source drivers, are not supported by Nvidia and as such it's difficult for them completely support all the features although they have made great progress. Nvidia itself has decided not to support a number of their features on Linux. Bumblebee, as one the answers suggested, is one such project to bring open-source support of new features to Linux that Nvidia refuses to. –  Oxwivi Jun 7 '11 at 11:57

4 Answers 4

Many users have reported their success using bumblebee in the linux hybrid-graphics mailing list. If you want to try it, you can follow these commands in a gnome-terminal:

sudo apt-get install git
# type password
git clone https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee.git
cd bumblebee/
sudo ./install.sh
optirun glxgears
# check the speed and compare to running:
glxgears
# If you have google-chrome installed, you can try it with/without optirun and report the FPS values on the mailing list:
optirun google-chrome http://webglsamples.googlecode.com/hg/aquarium/aquarium.html

For more info: http://launchpad.net/~hybrid-graphics-linux

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Does it work for any Ubuntu's kernel 2.6.* version or just a specific one? –  DiAlex Jun 7 '11 at 11:50
    
I've done what you said and update question. Please check it ;) –  DiAlex Jun 9 '11 at 18:13

Now also available as PPA:

To remove the old script/git version

sudo bumblebee-uninstall
sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates

To install the PPA version

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mj-casalogic/bumblebee
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bumblebee
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1  
Ah, there is the developer of Bumblebee. –  Lekensteyn Jul 7 '11 at 14:43

Bumblebee allows you to run specific programs on the discrete graphic card, inside of an X session using the integrated graphic card. To start a program on the discrete graphics card, you type "optirun" before the command for your program. For example, on GNOME, type:

Alt+F2 optirun google-chrome

or open a terminal and type:

optirun google-chrome

As part of the features for a hybrid graphics system, bumblebee can switch on/off before and after calling programs with optirun using acpi_call, which allows you to switch off discrete graphics card to improve battery life, and switch it on again when calling optirun. Different laptop models have different acpi_calls, and bumblebee keeps a list on /usr/share/doc/bumblebee:

If you want power saving by shutting the nVidia down when not in use,
please adjust the scripts:
/usr/local/bin/bumblebee-enablecard and
/usr/local/bin/bumblebee-disablecard for your machine.

Examples and documentation is available in /usr/share/doc/bumblebee/

For example, supposing you submitted your DSDT information, there would be a file you could copy like this:

sudo cp /usr/share/doc/bumblebee/bumblebee-disablecard.asus.N53Sv /usr/local/bin/bumblebee-disablecard

Since we don't seem to have the DSDT and SSDT info for your model, please submit your laptop's DSDT.dsl and SSDT tables as an attachment to this bug report:

https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/752542

To compile your DSDT and SSDTs information, install if you haven't already the acpidump and iasl tools:

sudo apt-get install acpidump iasl

or sudo yum install pmtools iasl

Then run the following commands on a bash terminal:

mkdir ~/acpiinfo ; cd ~/acpiinfo
sudo acpidump > acpidump.txt
# enter password
sudo acpixtract acpidump.txt
ls *.dat | while read i; do iasl -d "${i}"; done
name=`sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name`
mkdir "${name}" && cp *.dsl "${name}"/
tar czf "${name}.tar.gz" "${name}"/ && ls -l "$( pwd )/${name}".tar.gz

This will create a tar.gz file that you can attach to the bug report. Finally, for posting the information in the bug report, you can check the laptop and graphics card model identifiers with these commands:

sudo dmidecode -s system-product-name && sudo dmidecode -s system-version
lspci -vnnn | perl -lne 'print if /^\d+\:.+(\[\S+\:\S+\])/' | grep VGA

This information will allow the full development of hybrid graphics features for Linux. Thanks for your help!

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Well, I don't know if it will also be the case this time. But when I tried to install NVidia's drivers (the ones i downloaded from their website) last time, it screwed up X (wich means: my graphical user interface had died!).

And I've got some good news for you on the Optimus problem: http://www.martin-juhl.dk/2011/05/optimus-on-linux-problem-solved/

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