Minimum goal: Ability to switch between the graphic cards without drivers re-installation. Restarting computer in the process is fine.

There are lots of 'how to get switchable graphics to work' guides but I found none on how to configure a system for switchable graphics operation on Ubuntu from the ground up, nor explaining the current driver situation for particular computer models (integrated+discrete combinations).

Examples: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/HybridGraphics http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Switchable_Graphics

My system being mature and on Intel integrated card also makes things complicated.

System information:
Ubuntu 12.04 amd64, installed clean with system configured to use only the integrated Intel card Lenovo Thinkpad T500
Intel GMA 4500MHD / ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3650

Current situation:
Mature and up-to-date system with no configuration changes to what's given above.
I've made a backup image of the system (Clonezilla) so regardless of what's written below let's assume it's our starting point. If something in What I have already tried is not clear you may as well diregard it.

What I have already tried:
Configuring BIOS to switchable graphics and:

  1. Installing Additional Hardware drivers - returned an error.
  2. Installing proprietary amd-driver-installer-12.6-legacy-x86.x86_64.run automatically - system starts to 'low-graphics mode'.
  3. Tried fixing as per https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BinaryDriverHowto/ATI#Manually_installing_Catalyst_12.6.2C_special_case_for_Intel.2BAC8-ATI_hybrid_graphics
  4. Got lost, gave up.

BIOS settings:
Please note that while configuring BIOS for integrated graphics only is pretty straightforward, configuring for switchable graphics is not. Despite that if you know the driver installation part well, I'm willing to test all the BIOS settings combinations on my own.

  • Have you tried out this method? ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=11712748 (although this has only been confirmed to work on AMD HD6xxx series and up) Sep 19, 2012 at 21:27
  • 1
    @Glutanimate No, I haven't. Reason: ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?p=12242803#post12242803
    – Bucic
    Sep 19, 2012 at 21:41
  • I'm heavily interested in this question. What will be the use of having it done this way.
    – kmassada
    Oct 4, 2012 at 8:41
  • @kmassada It's not any particular way. It's about switching graphics, that's it. I just specified that even the most primitive method is allowed, even involving computer restart. The only thing I don't want to do is installing drivers from scratch each time I'd like to use another graphics chip, as I don't think it could be defined as 'switching'. That's all.
    – Bucic
    Oct 5, 2012 at 21:01

2 Answers 2


I found a solution for while googling. You have to put a script in rc.local specifying which VGA you want to use.

This link explains everything.

I will post important notes here:

  1. First install needed driver and script from git

    sudo apt-get install git && cd ~/  
    git clone https://github.com/mkottman/acpi_call.git  
    cd acpi_call && make  
    sudo insmod acpi_call.ko  
    chmod a+x test_off.sh
  2. de-activate ATI VGA

    sh test_off.sh
  3. Now you can check if your ATI VGA is already disabled by lspci -vnnn | grep VGA.
    It will show the following output:

    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller [8086:0116] (rev 09) (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller [0300]: ATI Technologies Inc NI Seymour [AMD Radeon HD 3650M] [1002:6760] (rev ff) (prog-if ff)

  4. If it works, to make this run at boot, edit /etc/rc.local:

    sudo insmod /acpi_call/acpi_call.ko
    sudo sh /acpi_call/test_off.sh
  5. Also, remove radeon blacklisting by editing /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:

    #blacklist radeon

    You should have xorg.conf like this to make VGA detectable :

     Section "ServerLayout"
     Identifier "aticonfig Layout"
     Screen 0 "aticonfig-Screen[0]-0" 0 0
     Section "Module"
     Load "glx"
     Section "Monitor"
     Identifier "aticonfig-Monitor[0]-0"
     Option "VendorName" "ATI Proprietary Driver"
     Option "ModelName" "Generic Autodetecting Monitor"
     Option "DPMS" "true"
     Section "Device"
     Identifier "aticonfig-Device[0]-0"
     # Driver "fglrx"
     BusID "PCI:1:0:0"
     # Section "Screen"
     # Identifier "Default Screen"
     # DefaultDepth 24
     # EndSection
     Section "Screen"
     Identifier "aticonfig-Screen[0]-0"
     Device "aticonfig-Device[0]-0"
     Monitor "aticonfig-Monitor[0]-0"
     DefaultDepth 24
     SubSection "Display"
     Viewport 0 0
     Depth 24

Note: To activate ATI/AMD radeon VGA again: Just comment what we've added to rc.local

Solution 2

I found this solution from askubuntu.com, I might be easier to put into practice:

This question assumes using vga_switcheroo.

Add this to /etc/fstab:

none  /sys/kernel/debug debugfs defaults 0 0
  • Thanks for your input. I won't be able to test it before the bounty ends (tomorrow). Have >you< actually tested it? Are you sure the procedure addresses this particular question? Isn't it the case that the authot from cisight.com always uses his Intel graphics, regardless of having his ATI/AMD switched on or off?
    – Bucic
    Oct 5, 2012 at 21:07
  • first, Sorry I don't have right now a dual graphics card to test it. Second, I Noted how to re-enable ATI again, You can choose which card you want.
    – user91632
    Oct 6, 2012 at 6:11
  • Since the bounty is ending soon and I can't confirm your answer validity, I'll mark your quwstion and you'll get the bounty. However if the answer turns out invalid, I'll ask moderator to unmark it, if possible.
    – Bucic
    Oct 7, 2012 at 7:13
  • Error in Solution1: After ~/acpi_call$ chmod a+x test_off.sh I get the following error: chmod: cannot access `test_off.sh': No such file or directory . No other errors up to this point.
    – Bucic
    Dec 27, 2012 at 20:27

This is currently not possible with AMD/ATI proprietary drivers. Please refer to Any way to make switching between discrete and integrated graphics from the BIOS work with proprietary drivers?

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