I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my alienware m11x, which has both integrated and discrete graphics. I also installed gnome-shell, but upon login it defaults to fallback mode. I'm pretty sure this is an issue with the graphics drivers.

However, there are no graphics drivers listed in the 'additional drivers' so I'm not sure what drivers I need. I know even the discrete graphics are capable of running gnome shell (I had linux mint previously installed and it ran gnome shell fine), its just a matter of installing the right drivers. Are there some drivers I can install from the command line? I also found this page: http://intellinuxgraphics.org/ but I have no idea what I need.

Any help would be awesome.

  • Since the detailed spec of m11x is not available from Alienware website, it will be useful if your can provide information about your graphics hardware. You can issue command "lspci" in shell to find out. Most likely you will see the name of vendor and the part number of your graphics chipset. After that you can start with vendor's web site, search for driver section.
    – user62432
    Commented May 10, 2012 at 17:46

4 Answers 4


Looking up the Alienware M11x's specs on Dell's website, it appears that you are running with an integrated/discrete setup composed of Intel Integrated Graphics and the nVidia GeForce GT 335M.1 From Dell's website:

With the Alienware™ M11x gaming laptop, you can play anything, anywhere. While weighing in at less than 4.51 pounds, the M11x packs enough power to handle the latest games. It truly redefines the gaming capabilities of sub-15" laptops.You can also maximize battery life by switching to integrated graphics or switch to the 1GB NVIDIA® GeForce® GT 335M graphics for an intense gaming experience.

This kind of setup comes with nVidia Optimus technology, which, sadly, only runs on Windows 7.

However, all hope may not be lost. There is an open-source alternative: Bumblebee. It is available as a PPA.

For detailed information on how to get nVidia Optimus cards working on Ubuntu through Bumblebee, see How well do laptops with Nvidia Optimus work?

Once you install Bumblebee, you should restart. After you've rebooted, you will be able to run programs on the nVidia card with the terminal command optirun.

Test that it's working properly by opening a new terminal window with Ctrl+Alt+T and entering

optirun glxspheres

The above command will start glxspheres, a program which consists of a ton of 3D spheres. Additionally, if you look back at the terminal, you should see the word nvidia in the GL vendor string. Congratulations, Bumblebee's installed correctly and you can now use your nVidia card for graphics-intensive programs such as games.

I personally have a laptop with the nVidia GeForce GT 540M and Bumblebee effectively replicates the behavior of Optimus. An added bonus is that, like Optimus, Bumblebee turns off your nVidia card when you're not using it, so you'll get a better battery life than you would without Bumblebee.

1 Whatever you do, do not install the proprietary nVidia drivers from nvidia.com! This may totally mess up Ubuntu!

  • @AlishaTChen I was able to find specs (on behalf of the asker) for the Alienware M11x on the Dell website. They said it has an nVidia GeForce GT 335M card. (Sorry, low rep restrictions force me to reply here, instead of on the question.) Commented May 10, 2012 at 20:23

Try This :

  1. Find out the graphic cards you have: lspci | grep VGA

  2. Install updated Intel driver: https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-x-swat/+archive/x-updates

  3. If discreet card is AMD/ATI: http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/linux/Pages/radeon_linux.aspx http://wiki.cchtml.com/index.php/Ubuntu_Precise_Installation_Guide

Let us know if it works :)

  • It turns out I have already have the xserver-xorg-video-intel driver installed... Are there other intel drivers i need?
    – user115188
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 16:19

Peter's link will come in handy for you. First you'll need to purge any drivers that you already installed, and his link will walk you through that. When I first installed Bumblebee on my Dell with Optimus it used the NVIDIA card with optirun but the Intel card ran without hardware-acceleration. If you have this issue refer to this question. Particularly the part talking about /var/log/Xorg.0.log should come in handy. Take a look at your log file and make sure the GLX library is being loaded properly. For me it was trying to load the NVIDIA GLX library for both cards, and the Intel card needs its own GLX library. The Intel library and drivers should already be installed. The only driver you need to install is the NVIDIA one, and the Bumblebee installation will install this for you. All you should need to do is make sure they're being loaded properly.


I looked up your laptop's features and it seems your graphics card is an NVIDIA GT 540M.

You can choose between two ways:

  1. Follow these instructions, which will add a repository to your setup which will let you install the correct driver and afterwards update it automatically:

  2. For your card you would need to download this driver:

    This download will give you a file with the extension: .run

    Just execute this file as root or sudo from the command line before starting any window manager (or log out from your current session). You may have to shut down lightGDM (the login greeter) as well.

Both ways should setup your xorg.conf file to use the new driver.

After installing the driver, you should restart your machine.


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