[clug] Avoiding NVIDIA Optimus ?

Kevin Pulo kev at pulo.com.au
Wed Jul 20 00:10:41 MDT 2011

On Wed, Jul 20, 2011 at 11:35:01AM +1000, Warren Gardner wrote:

> My main concern was the 'floating key' keyboard until I got home and
> googled NVIDIA Optimus.
> >From what I gather:
> NVIDIA do not provide (much) support for linux. If I have a laptop
> with Optimus not only will I not be able to utilise the graphics card,
> I will be lucky to boot the computer.  To boot it would depend on the
> options in BIOS, and even then the unusable graphics card will chew
> battery and cook the computer.

I have a Dell XPS 15 on the way which also has a GT540 with Optimus.
My understanding is that the Optimus issue is basically "solved" by

https://github.com/MrMEEE/bumblebee     (scroll down to the README)

The Dell is worse because it doesn't have switchable graphics.  This
means that only the integrated gfx card is physically wired up to any
output ports (including the internal screen), with no mux to choose
between the integrated vs discrete gfx.  ie. the video out signals of
the nvidia card are simply not connected to anything (although I've
seen a report which indicates that the discrete gfx may be used for
hdmi out, with the integrated gfx for the internal dfp and displayport
(including vga)).

I will be very surprised if any of this prevents the machine from
booting, or anything that drastic.  I expect to see two VGA cards in
the output of lspci, and that unsurprisingly trying to use the nvidia
one for X will give no output.  I expect that Bumblebee will handle
things at least adequately, where I can manually run my 3D
visualisation tools through the optirun64 wrapper to get them running
on the NV card, with the output being rendered to a texture that the
integrated card is displaying in a window (or whatever similar
mechanism it uses).

The laptop will spend most of its life plugged into the wall, so I
don't care if the discrete gfx is always on, but it seems that even
that is fixed in the current Bumblebee.

The AS5750G isn't listed as confirmed working, but the AS5745PG is, so
I like your chances.  If it has a hardware mux that allows the bios to
have an "optimus/integrated/discrete" setting, then so much the
better, since that would allow you to just use the discrete NVidia
card exclusively if you couldn't get Bumblebee going.  If DSE have a
display model, then you could probably convince them to let you reboot
it and have a look for such a setting in the bios.

So, in short, I'll be surprised if this is anywhere near the
show-stopper that it was even just 3 months ago.  There are a lot of
Linux hackers who got lumped with optimus lately, so it's little
wonder that a solution has been sorted out.


Kevin Pulo
kev at pulo.com.au
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