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Enable Nvidia Optimus with Ubuntu 12.10

Nvidia Optimus is a software/hardware solution that automatically switches between a low end graphics card and a high-end Nvidia graphics card based on demand. This solution allows laptops with longer battery run time. Because this solution utilizes both software and hardware, the correct software is necessary for any given operating system. Nvidia provides the software for Windows 7 and Windows 8. No official software exists for Ubuntu and other Linux distributions.

The good news is that the Bumblebee project aims to provide high quality integration between Linux and Nvidia Optimus. It means they will provide the software solution that is missing on Ubuntu. It's really quite easy to install. But the Bumblebee project has some missing information on its installation page. So, here are the five simple commands to install it on Ubuntu 12.10 (you must execute them in the Terminal):

  • sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get -y install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia linux-headers-generic
  • sudo apt-get update
  • sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

Once you completed the installation, you can use "glxspheres" (which is installed along with Bumblebee) to test the installation. You can also get some performance data with it.

To run glxspheres with the low-end graphics card, simply type "glxspheres" in the Terminal. To run glxspheres with the high-end Nvidia graphics card, use the "optirun glxspheres" command. Remember, whenever you want to use the high-end Nvidia graphics card on your notebook command, you must issue the command with "optirun" in front.

Jake
Sat, 09 Mar 2013 02:00:09 +0300

The following are performance data that I pulled off my Asus G46VW-BSI5N06 gaming ultrabook after enabling Bumblebee:

Intel HD 4000

Polygons in scene: 62464
Visual ID of window: 0xac
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Ivybridge Mobile
28.402353 frames/sec - 31.697026 Mpixels/sec
28.478480 frames/sec - 31.781983 Mpixels/sec
28.542409 frames/sec - 31.853328 Mpixels/sec
25.740931 frames/sec - 28.726879 Mpixels/sec
30.486606 frames/sec - 34.023052 Mpixels/sec
26.882713 frames/sec - 30.001108 Mpixels/sec
26.633890 frames/sec - 29.723421 Mpixels/sec
28.908546 frames/sec - 32.261937 Mpixels/sec

Nvidia GTX 660M

Polygons in scene: 62464
Visual ID of window: 0x21
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: GeForce GTX 660M/PCIe/SSE2
79.729625 frames/sec - 88.978262 Mpixels/sec
81.587066 frames/sec - 91.051166 Mpixels/sec
82.750341 frames/sec - 92.349381 Mpixels/sec
79.917097 frames/sec - 89.187481 Mpixels/sec
83.681452 frames/sec - 93.388500 Mpixels/sec
85.317589 frames/sec - 95.214430 Mpixels/sec
82.924812 frames/sec - 92.544090 Mpixels/sec
87.978919 frames/sec - 98.184474 Mpixels/sec

Note: I installed and ran these numbers over VNC. Not sure if VNC has any impact on the numbers. But you can clearly see that the high-end graphics card blew the low-end graphics card out of the water.

Jake
Sat, 09 Mar 2013 02:06:07 +0300

Looks like running glxspheres through VNC makes a huge difference. Running it directly on the laptop monitor, without going through VNC provides a huge improvement:

Intel HD 4000

Polygons in scene: 62464
Visual ID of window: 0xac
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel(R) Ivybridge Mobile
60.219484 frames/sec - 67.204944 Mpixels/sec
60.071837 frames/sec - 67.040170 Mpixels/sec
60.030326 frames/sec - 66.993844 Mpixels/sec
60.002937 frames/sec - 66.963278 Mpixels/sec
60.032016 frames/sec - 66.995730 Mpixels/sec
60.029382 frames/sec - 66.992790 Mpixels/sec
59.918736 frames/sec - 66.869309 Mpixels/sec
60.146539 frames/sec - 67.123538 Mpixels/sec

Nvidia GTX 660M

Polygons in scene: 62464
Visual ID of window: 0x21
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: GeForce GTX 660M/PCIe/SSE2
164.339512 frames/sec - 183.402896 Mpixels/sec
200.314720 frames/sec - 223.551227 Mpixels/sec
196.872680 frames/sec - 219.709911 Mpixels/sec
201.856463 frames/sec - 225.271813 Mpixels/sec
203.597228 frames/sec - 227.214507 Mpixels/sec
200.070147 frames/sec - 223.278285 Mpixels/sec
200.183591 frames/sec - 223.404887 Mpixels/sec
230.470795 frames/sec - 257.205407 Mpixels/sec

Jake
Sat, 09 Mar 2013 23:44:17 +0300

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Title: Asus G46VW - Set Display and Keyboard Brightness in Ubuntu 12.10
Weblog: GearHack
Excerpt: After personalizing Ubuntu 12.10 to my liking, I found that Ubuntu has trouble remember my screen brightness settings, even though I set it through the "Brightness and Lock" options in "System Settings...". Ubuntu also recognizes the keyboard backlight. When you change it on the keyboard, Ubuntu pop . . .
Tracked: Sat, 09 Mar 2013 02:09:39 +0300

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