I have Ubuntu 11.10 and a switchable graphics Intel/ATI

After many and many troubles with proprietary drivers, I last uninstalled them to install the opensource alternative. But now my question is:

  1. How to choiche what VGA to use?
  2. How to know what one is use by Ubuntu?

I know that I can use vgaswitcheroo but I cannot find it on my installation? Anyone can help? Thanks in advance

  • which computer/laptop model are we talking about?
    – Jan Groth
    Commented Jan 31, 2012 at 12:44
  • hp dv7 laptop VGA graphics intel/ATI
    – Hoghweed
    Commented Feb 1, 2012 at 22:43

1 Answer 1


Arr dirty old switchable graphics are still a pain in the ars...

first, open a terminal and become root:

sudo su

check if there is a 'debug' directory in /sys/kernel/

if it's not, go and add this line to /etc/fstab

none                    /sys/kernel/debug debugfs defaults 0 0

(and reboot)

You should now see a debug directory in /sys/kernel check if the vgaswitcheroo directory exists in /sys/kernel/debug

if not, make sure to use Intel and Ati Foss drivers ( not fglrx )

once you see the file /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch you're ready to party hard!

If you want to use the intel card, just paste in a terminal (as root)

echo DIGD > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

now log out and in again ( not rebootin'! ) -> welcome to the intel card's power

if you want to switch to the ati card, do same as above but paste this time

echo DDIS > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

and you're ready to fire more 3d performance up!

if your laptop's fan is always on, this might mean that both cards are activated. as you're only using one at a time, we simply power the unused one off:

echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

you can always check wich card is currently running with this command

cat /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

i want you to notice at this time, that the intel's and the foss ati driver's 3d-performances are ... well ... not actually that awesome. And the foss ati driver's powermanagement is just crap or no one ever implemented that i dunno...

if you desire full 3d performance and working powermanagement (you know, there is a difference between having 2h of batterylife or 6h ..) you can still try to fight with fglrx ( ati's propetary driver ). Once you made it working with fglrx, you can simply switch graphic cards via the ati catalyst control center ( including re-logins ). But fglrx is a tricky * ... i might be a long dark path to success - if it's ever working on one's machine ...

however, check this site for more details about switchin' with foss drivers and vgaswitcheroo: http://asusm51ta-with-linux.blogspot.com/

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