I'm trying to connect my external monitor (via VGA cable) to my laptop, using Bumblebee and the Optimus configuration.

I have a Lenovo W520, with an Intel GMA HD 3000 and an Nvidia Quadro 2000M. The BIOS has three options regarding the graphic cards - integrated, discrete, and Optimus.

The use case is very simple. For work, I just use the integrated card and the laptop display; when I watch movies though, I want to use my projector. Now, what I have to do in this case is:

  • reboot
  • start windows
  • watch the movie

Thanks to Bumblebee, I'm able now to keep the setup always as Optimus.

Before BB, I had to change the BIOS setting every time I wanted to watch a movie, because even in windows, using integrated graphics caused the projector not to be detected by the system (I suppose that this is what they generally mean by "hardwired output", and that the VGA output is hardwired to the discrete card).

Now, what I'd like to do, is to be able to connect the external monitor without having to switch O/S, that is, to use it in Ubuntu.

Is it possible?

Right now, if I want to use the external monitor on Ubuntu, the only option is to change the BIOS to use the discrete graphics, then use nvidia-settings.

If I use instead the Optimus setup, even when I run it using "optirun nvidia-settings -c :8", I don't get any option for an external monitor.

Is there something I can do?

4 Answers 4


I have a W520. It is not the same setup as the T420 - the VGA output is wired to the nvidia card, so the "this" link from Samsagax will not work. I've prepared a blog post here outlining the options you have. I was unable to get either external monitor to work with Bumblebee, and I do not believe it is possible with the W520. However, you can use an extenal monitor in optimus mode, but you either have to use xinerama or open a separate X screen on the extenal monitor.

  • 3
    Here is a new solution that will probably be better for most people - you don't even have to log out of X to use an external display/projector: zachstechnotes.blogspot.com/2012/04/post-title.html All rendering is done on the intel card and then the data is dumped to the nvidia device for output to the external display
    – Zach
    Apr 27, 2012 at 5:41

(redirected from linux-hybrid-graphics list)

I have a Thinkpad T420 which might be similar (but may be not).

On my T420, VGA is attached to the Intel and Display-Port is attached to the NVIDIA. So for the VGA output I can use the usual xrandr.

The Display-Port is a different story. For that I have to change the xorg.conf from bumblebee in /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia:

The option ConnectedMonitor from DFP (the default) to DP1 for DisplayPort.


Newer versions of the Intel driver include a program called intel-virtual-output which greatly simplifies setup of double and triple displays on a W520.

The intel-virtual-output command provides a way for an X server on the Intel card to duplicate screens to another X server. It looks at the available screens on the remote display and presents them on the Intel X server as VIRTUAL1, VIRTUAL2, etc.

The following script (run as root) works for me, but most likely you'll need to tweak things:


# Power on the nvidia card with bumblebee.
modprobe bbswitch
echo ON > /proc/acpi/bbswitch

# Run X display :8 on the nvidia card.
optirun true

# Tell the intel card to create virtual screens on :0 and
# copy whatever they're displaying to equivalent screens on :8

# Configure my monitors the way I like them.
xrandr --output VIRTUAL3 --auto
xrandr --output VIRTUAL1 --auto --right-of VIRTUAL3
xrandr --output LVDS1 --off

This setup enables my DisplayPort to DVI cable (VIRTUAL3) on the left and the VGA (VIRTUAL1) on the right. It also disables the laptop screen.

Note that since these are just virtual screens from the driver, in theory your GUI's display configuration tool should be able to figure it out after you've run intel-virtual-output.

In practice, the display configuration tool in xubuntu did not really do coherent things. That's why those xrandr commands are there. If you're running gnome or kde it might be worth trying the GUI tool before messing with xrandr. Otherwise, before you run this you'll probably want to tweak some things for whatever setup you're actually using. Running just xrandr tells you what displays are currently connected. You can connect and disconnect your monitors to see which plug connects to which VIRTUAL[0-9] display. The laptop screen is LVDS1. Then it's just a matter of doing the xrandr commands with --right-of, --left-of, --below, etc. to get things in their proper place.

When you want to go mobile again you can run this (again, as root):


# Turn on the laptop screen.
xrandr --output LVDS1 --auto

# Turn off my the other screens.
xrandr --output VIRTUAL1 --off
xrandr --output VIRTUAL3 --off

# Kill the xorg server running on the nvidia card.
kill $(ps ax | grep Xorg | grep :8 | awk '{print $1}')

# Wait plenty of time for it to die.
sleep 5

# Remove the nvidia kernel module so we can shut down the card.
# If you're running another driver this might be something different.
rmmod nvidia

# Use bumblebee to turn off the nvidia card and save power.
echo OFF > /proc/acpi/bbswitch

I'm running xubuntu 14.04 using the proprietary nvidia driver version 337.25. I've also got bumblebee packages from https://launchpad.net/~bumblebee/+archive/ubuntu/stable.

Interestingly, this setup is the reverse of the usual Optimus setup. Usually you're selectively running programs on the nvidia card and copying buffers from the nvidia card to the intel card which actually talks to the monitors. In this case you're running everything on the intel card and copying the relevant screen buffers to the nvidia card.

If you're wondering, yes, this makes it hard to run nvidia accelerated applications. I've not yet figured out a way to make games perform well, and even with HD video it slows down over time. It even appears to not be double-buffering because you get visible left-right top-down scanning after playing fairly high-resolution video for a while. That said, most projectors will probably be fine.

  • Note that my answer is essentially the same as @Zach's, except it's using intel-virtual-output which ships with the default driver rather than using a custom patch and hybrid-screenclone. The strategy is exactly the same, but this is a lot less effort and in my experience actually works on newer version of ubuntu. Thanks Zach for documenting the strategy that makes this work.
    – Hans
    Sep 18, 2014 at 0:47
  • 1
    Credit also goes to unixreich.com/blog/2013/…
    – Hans
    Sep 18, 2014 at 0:58
  • Editing xorg.conf.nvidia as in your reference was necessary for me on Ubuntu 14.10 (in particular, I needed to comment UseEDID and UseDisplayDevice). However, I didn't need to use a PPA (Bumblebee from Ubuntu worked just fine) and I also don't need any scripts to start and stop the multi-monitor setup -- simply starting or killing intel-virtual-output as regular user works for me. (It executes optirun as necessary.) Can you confirm?
    – krlmlr
    Dec 10, 2014 at 10:17
  • Do you use the GUI to set up the screens? Perhaps that issue was an xubuntu problem. I'll have to try the other stuff when I get a chance.
    – Hans
    Dec 10, 2014 at 18:08
  • Yes, the GUI works for setting up the screens.
    – krlmlr
    Dec 10, 2014 at 18:12

Maybe try this.

But is dependent on hardwiring.

  • 1
    Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! While this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. Feb 12, 2012 at 16:53

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