Just trying to install Ubuntu on my laptop and can't get nvidia drivers to work. Have been googling and trying for a while, but since I am not used to Ubuntu I am not sure quite how to diagnose the problem, whether is a bug and should be attached, and plus a lot of the information on google seems quite old.

My laptop is a dell xps, with a 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GT 550M Graphics Card, which, according to here, http://www.nvidia.com/object/linux-display-ia32-270.41.19-driver.html, should be supported.

I am trying to install Ubuntu Natty 11.04. First of all, the often mentioned System->Administration->Hardware drivers isn't there on my installation, there is however a System->Administration->Additional drivers. It shows only one entry, NVIDIA accelerated graphics driver. On the bottom it says "The driver is activated but not currently in use."

I have re-installed nvidia-current a few times, restart a few times, to no avail. System-Administration->Hardware yields "You do not appear to be using the NVIDIA X driver. Please edit your X configuration file (just run nvidia-xconfig as root), and restart the X server."

Running nvidia-xconfig tells me that it can't find an xorg.conf, and is generating a new one. With that xorg.conf, the computer fails to start the X server back up again until I delete the xorg.conf again.

Xorg -configure returns a very strange xorg.conf with 5 screens.

Here some more output

florian@FloWorkLinux:~$ /usr/lib/nux/unity_support_test -p
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
Xlib:  extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0".
Error: unable to create the OpenGL context
florian@FloWorkLinux:~$ sudo lshw -C display
   description: VGA compatible controller
   product: nVidia Corporation
   vendor: nVidia Corporation
   physical id: 0
   bus info: pci@0000:01:00.0
   version: a1
   width: 64 bits
   clock: 33MHz
   capabilities: pm msi pciexpress vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
   configuration: driver=nvidia latency=0
   resources: irq:16 memory:f0000000-f1ffffff memory:c0000000-cfffffff 
memory:d0000000-d3ffffff ioport:4000(size=128) memory:f2000000-f207ffff
   description: VGA compatible controller
   product: 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller
   vendor: Intel Corporation
   physical id: 2
   bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
   version: 09
   width: 64 bits
   clock: 33MHz
   capabilities: msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
   configuration: driver=i915 latency=0
   resources: irq:52 memory:f2400000-f27fffff memory:e0000000-efffffff ioport:5000(size=64)
florian@FloWorkLinux:~$ lspci | grep nVidia
01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device 0dd6 (rev a1)

The bit of the generated xorg.conf that relates to nvidia is

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "Device0"
    Driver         "nvidia"
    VendorName     "NVIDIA Corporation"

Help appreciated, thanks

4 Answers 4


The XPS series (without 3D) have two graphics units. An Intel onboard chip and the Nvidia chip. The Nvidia gpu is activated and disactiviated depending on load by software within the Windows driver called Optimus. NVidia has not choosen to release this for Linux yet.

On my XPS 17 I am simply not running any NVidia drivers at the moment and Ubuntu is working great. I will take a look at https://github.com/z0rc/debumblebee when I have a chance. This should give some of the same functionality as Optimus.


The main branch of bumblebee is here:
For more information, check this website:


check this thread: How do I use an activated(but not in use) driver?

You are not alone as this a known bug.


Bumblebee is not the latest incarnation of the driver you want. For instructions on how to setup any Dell with Optimus technology, try here...

Ubuntu Oneiric 11.10 on Dell XPS17 L702x

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