The Nerd Lifestyle

Dell XPS 15 (L502X)running linux (ubuntu 11.04) with nvidia optimus support

with 15 comments

I ended up with a snazzy new Dell XPS for my birthday. A dream laptop for me, it even included a fancy 2 gig video card.

It came with Windows 7 (which I don’t have a direct problem with) but my preference when I compute at home is to use linux. I partitioned part of it off and loaded up the new lubuntu. Install went fine but the sucker ran hot, loud, sucked the battery and the gpu seemed to be on but not in use. Something definitely seemed off.

This lead me on a search which explained about the nvidia Optimus GPU and people struggling with this on linux.

What is Optimus?

This is a technology created by Nvidia to switch off the power hungry GPU when not needed. On my laptop it switchs from the beefy 2 gig Nvidia GPU to the onboard Intel GPU. So when not gaming or doing graphic intense work, the system is running on less power (thus longer battery, less fan noise, heat, etc).

The problem?

Nvidia did not produce any Optimus drivers for linux and has stated that there are no plans to support it on linux. Typically in the past Nvidia has supplied some closed source drivers for their nvidia cards.

The solution?

The Bumblebee Project! After digging around on the ubuntu forums, I was ready to give up. Many people stated that nvidia would not be writing this driver and there is no current solution. Then murmurs of the Bumblebee project came about. A bit buggy at first, it has really started to gain steam. I’ve been using it error free for a while and really am happy to have my laptop running somewhat smooth.

And it just got easier to install if you are using debian/ubuntu. Bumblebee has now been packaged into a PPA @ Launchpad.

First thing you’ll want to do is add the repository:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mj-casalogic/bumblebee

Then update and install:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install bumblebee

It’ll take you through the installer which will ask you which profile you want to use. At this point from what I understand these are successful profiles submitted. All of the ones for my laptop have worked just fine.

After the install you can launch a program using the command optirun

Example: optirun java -jar ~/Downloads/minecraft.jar

This will launch minecraft using the nvidia card.

At the time of writing there is also:
Arch, OpenSuSE, Fedora, Mint support.

Links:

Github page lots of info for all the newest

Link to the bumblebee launchpad site

Author’s blog which has bumblebee info also

Written by eod

July 27th, 2011 at 2:56 am

Posted in Computing

15 Responses to 'Dell XPS 15 (L502X)running linux (ubuntu 11.04) with nvidia optimus support'

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  1. Hi thanks for this article on optimus support! I am scheduled to receive the same laptop (XPS 15 L502X) from Dell as a replacement for my broken XPS 15 L501X laptop. My L501x shipped with a GeForce 435M video card WITHOUT optimus and has been working great in Ubuntu (10.10 and 11.04).

    The L502X that Dell will be shipping me comes with a GeForce 540M graphics card that includes optimus.
    I’m concerned that I’ll run into some big problems running Ubuntu linux due to optimus…

    Can you give me any additional insights to your experience with the L502X and bumblebee? Please feel free to email me! Thanks so much for your help!

    Orestis

    3 Aug 11 at 1:05 am

  2. I had no problem getting Ubuntu to run right out of the gate. The issue was it was not using that new geforce card (yet it was on and sucking down power). The only game I really play lately on the laptop is Minecraft which optimus switches over and handles just fine. I just recently messed with my default profile and it sometimes has issues coming out of sleep mode but that just started yesterday. Could just be a fluke.

    eod

    4 Aug 11 at 6:26 pm

  3. Here more info about Dell XPS 15 L502x on Ubuntu….https://wiki.edubuntu.org/HardwareSupport/Machines/Laptops/Dell/XPS/15
    Enjoy.

    A,

    Andrew

    12 Aug 11 at 6:18 pm

  4. Thank you so much for posting, it helped me a lot!

    Andy

    21 Aug 11 at 2:47 pm

  5. Hello,
    Thank you for this blog, can you tell me (if you have one) if backlight keybard works on Linux?

    zoube

    30 Aug 11 at 1:06 pm

  6. Hi, I just installed ubuntu 11 (64 bits) on my l502x on virtual box and I cannot get aspect ratio work right. It only gives me 4:3 options to configure it bun no one 16:9. Could some one tell me how may I fix that problem?
    Thanks

    Luciano

    19 Sep 11 at 4:44 pm

  7. [...] Dell XPS 15 (L502X)running linux (ubuntu 11.04) with nvidia optimus support [...]

  8. Hello

    Any way to solve the heating problems?
    My Fan is continuously running…
    Btw the bumblebee disables the CPU by default?

    Regards

    Amar

    20 Oct 11 at 4:18 pm

  9. Hello and thank you for such a concise description of the situation. I gave up Optimus + Ubuntu a few months back, gave my dream laptop to my wife and went back to my workstation.

    BUt I am back and very please to hear there has been progress, well, really I knew there would be.

    Thanks again for such a concise and accurate post.

    Rob

    26 Oct 11 at 8:13 pm

  10. @Amar
    Please follow this website
    http://linux-hybrid-graphics.blogspot.com/

    I think the “a” option will give you a solution :)

    but remember to run
    sudo sh test_off.sh OFF

    14quartz

    10 Nov 11 at 1:02 pm

  11. I get the following. Has this repository been discontinued?

    drew@ubuntu:~$ sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mj-casalogic/bumblebee
    [sudo] password for drew:
    You are about to add the following PPA to your system:
    The Bumblebee Project
    PLEASE DON’T USE THIS ANYMORE…

    Move to the Ironhide project instead:

    https://launchpad.net/~mj-casalogic/+archive/ironhide/+packages
    More info: https://launchpad.net/~mj-casalogic/+archive/bumblebee
    Press [ENTER] to continue or ctrl-c to cancel adding it

    Drew

    27 Mar 12 at 6:46 pm

  12. I’m unable to install the the bumblebee PPA…I tried it manually too but I get the following error.

    Executing: gpg –ignore-time-conflict –no-options –no-default-keyring –secret-keyring /tmp/tmp.PxsV9CXLOg –trustdb-name /etc/apt/trustdb.gpg –keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg –primary-keyring /etc/apt/trusted.gpg –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com –recv-keys 8110A93A
    gpg: requesting key 8110A93A from hkp server keyserver.ubuntu.com
    gpg: keyserver timed out
    gpg: keyserver receive failed: keyserver error

    onereic

    ridik

    10 May 12 at 7:46 pm

  13. [...] to save battery life i installed and configured TLP and Cpu-Freq, but i noticed a huge work of my fan and the notebook is always hot in the gpu zone i tried to install bumblebee but with no results, from the official site and this one too http://e0d.com/blog/dell-xps-15-l502…pport#comments [...]

  14. [...] to save battery life i installed and configured TLP and Cpu-Freq, but i noticed a huge work of my fan and the notebook is always hot in the gpu zone i tried to install bumblebee but with no results, from the official site and this one too http://e0d.com/blog/dell-xps-15-l502…pport#comments [...]

  15. [...] to save battery life i installed and configured TLP and Cpu-Freq, but i noticed a huge work of my fan and the notebook is always hot in the gpu zone i tried to install bumblebee but with no results, from the official site and this one too http://e0d.com/blog/dell-xps-15-l502…pport#comments [...]

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