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My laptop is Dell Inspiron 5420, with two graphic cards:

  • Intel HD Graphics 4000
  • Nvidia GeForce GT 630M

I took the Thinkpad T400 configuration guide as an example to configure my Linux, but I only get the integrated card to work, and the card is not using the Intel driver

Currently, the behavior of my system is:

  • using the intel driver in the Xorg.config, X cannot starts, reports cannot find the device
  • using the vesa driver, the X could work, but no advanced graphic features, which means Gnome 3 is not available
  • using the nvidia / nouveau driver, according to the log, the X seems to be started, but I got a black screen with nothing

If you know a better guide/example to configure the system, please let me know. If you need my Xorg.config, I will post it.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

As far as I can tell from your problem description the correct term for what you want is "hybrid graphics" as you only use either adapter to power your monitor (actually any output), not both at the same time.

An overview over tools for what you want can be found (for example) here. You may be looking for the tool bbswitch from the Bumblebee-Project. Yet, you should not put anything about drivers into your xorg.conf. X should find and load the correct drivers itself. Also, I remember reading something about improved support for hybrid graphics in the most recent stable kernel, so you should get/build the most recent stable kernel for your distro. You may find more on the internet by the term "hybrid graphics" anyways.

Hope that helps.

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IIRC this is also what is called "Optimus" by nVidia. From what I know so far (put a grain of salt to it) is that Optimus still is problematic under Linux. – Nasha Aug 28 '15 at 9:53

what you need sounds like the bumblebee package. Bumblebee basically decides which graphics card to use if you tell bumblebee to decide for you.

How to install: (detailed guide, please CAREFULLY read)


Installation overview and explanation:

Install the needed packages via your package manager:

  • assuming you are on a 64bit-system and want to run 32-bit applications (not exclusively, but also). If not, you do not need to install any of the packages beginning with lib32 so called mutilib packages.
  • Be aware that you might need to add mutilib sources for you package manager in order to be able to download them (depending on your package manager).
  • pacman is a package manager, yours could be e.g. apt or yum etc.

pacman -S bumblebee mesa mesa-demos xf86-video-intel lib32-virtualgl lib32-nvidia-utils lib32-mesa-libgl

Be aware of:

  • Do NOT install nvidia-libgl this might cause a blackscreen or worse at startup!
  • Do NOT run the nvidia X server settings application and not nvidia-xconfig
    • If you do so the X will fail at target graphical interface reached
    • Here's how to resolve this issue: mv /etc/X11/xorg.conf /etc/X11/xorg.conf.bak
    • reason: xorg.conf is not needed for the default intel card.

After installation:

  • Activate the bumblebee daemon via sudo systemctl enable bumblebeed.service (Mind the d at the end!)
  • sudo reboot now

Usage example:

optirun <your application>

although in most cases primusrun is preferable:

primusrun <your application>

The reason is it avoids some of optiruns overhead and thus is more performant.

To check the status of bumblebee while running:

optirun --status

It should say something like: Bumblebee status: Ready (3.2.1). X is PID 26489, 1 applications using bumblebeed.

Anomaly: it seems depending on which linux kernel you use, switching off the nvidia-card again might prove a hard thing to do. Shouldnt bother you though except if power-consumption is crucial, then you gotta reboot.

Please ask if you have any questions or can contribute to improve this answer.

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