I would like to run Ubuntu on my new Thinkpad E470. Is Nvidia Optimus supported? It used to be that you would have to run the proprietary drivers with the dGPU enabled always instead of using the iGPU. Has the situation improved, especially regarding battery life? If possible I would just run with the iGPU as I don't plan to do any gaming. Would I just refrain from installing the proprietary driver to achieve this?

  • For the most part I just use the iGPU on all my optimus laptops. While nvidia is supported thru nvidia-prime it has awful tearing & the solution for that isn't yet working in Ubuntu. As far as video playback I find vaapi performs quite well.
    – doug
    Apr 13 '17 at 11:58
  • So when I install Ubuntu it's running on the iGPU by default with the dGPU not enabled?
    – H3R3T1K
    Apr 13 '17 at 12:17
  • yes, by default you use the iGPU, period.. As long as you don't install nvidia drivers that won't change.
    – doug
    Apr 14 '17 at 3:03

You have three options. Your first option is bumblebee which is currently outdated although it is still under development and is reported as working in Ubuntu 16.04.

To install bumblebee, open up a terminal window and type the following:

sudo apt install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus nvidia-381

Another option is prime which works fairly well but only seems to support nouveau and requires an X-Server restart to change the active GPU. To install prime, open up a terminal window and type the following:

sudo apt install nvidia-381 nvidia-prime

After installing prime, you should have a window that looks like this: PRIME

Your third option is to install reverse prime although I would not recommend that as it sets your NVIDIA GPU as your default GPU and will drain your battery like crazy.

sources: Do I need to install Bumblebee for Hybrid Graphics system to enable Optimus on Ubuntu 16.04?


If you only want to use your Intel card, your best bet is to enter your BIOS/UEFI configuration and set the option for using only the iGPU. However, if you think you will want to use the Nvidia card too (e.g. for SuperTuxKart), your best bet seems to be Bumblebee. Bumblebee runs everything on the iGPU by default, and you can run specific applications on the dGPU by prefixing the command with optirun, e.g. optirun supertuxkart. Install it by running:

sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus nvidia-340

(You may want to use a newer version of the Nvidia drivers, just change 340 to whatever version you want.)

Alternatively, you could just use nvidia-prime, which allows switching between the GPUs using sudo prime-select (intel/nvidia), but this solution requires a reboot after switching for the changes to take affect. (and who wants to reboot just to play a few minutes of SuperTuxKart?)

Relevant links:

Do I need to install Bumblebee for Hybrid Graphics system to enable Optimus on Ubuntu 16.04?

How to set up nVidia Optimus/Bumblebee in 14.04 (note that the UI mentioned in the top answer no longer exists)



http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/4/SLN298431/a-guide-to-nvidia-optimus-on-dell-pcs-with-an-ubuntu-operating-system?lang=EN (shows how to use nvidia-prime)

  • I thought Bumblebee was out of date
    – H3R3T1K
    Apr 14 '17 at 20:22
  • See the top answer in the top link. Apr 15 '17 at 0:06

Possible duplicate solution of this answer of dschinn1001 here, follow the links there - you would have to remove the installed nvidia-drivers and install the packages, which are currently available via links there. cuda-sdk-1.1-beta is working fine with cuda optimus :

Black screen on boot when any NVIDIA drivers installed

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