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NVIDIA are working towards better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux

By - | Views: 33,928

Thanks to a little Twitter tip, we've learned today that NVIDIA are indeed working to provide better support for NVIDIA Optimus on Linux.

Currently, if you have a laptop with NVIDIA Optimus the official NVIDIA driver gives you the option between using the Intel GPU or switching over to the NVIDIA GPU. It doesn't handle it like you would expect it to on Windows, where it would offload the work to the more powerful NVIDIA GPU. Not an ideal situation, to switch between the two GPUs and from when I had a laptop with one (some time ago) it required logging out before it would take effect.

There's a forum topic talking about it on the official NVIDIA forum, which has been open since 2016. Aaron Plattner from NVIDIA said they were looking into it, but that was also back in 2016. A few hours ago, Plattner again gave an update in that post about it:

Hi folks,

Yes, it's still being worked on. Kyle laid the groundwork with the server-side vendor-neutral dispatch code that's in X.Org xserver 1.20. There's still some more work to be done there and support for it needs to be wired up inside our driver, but basic support for loading NVIDIA's GLX as a vendor in the server is in place. Kyle is putting together a proposal for the next steps.

Since I'm not currently up to speed on all the developments surrounding it, I thought it was quite interesting to learn. Hopefully some of you will too.

There are other ways to do it currently on Linux, like Bumblebee but having it done officially would be great. The less hassle Linux users and gamers have to go through, the better it is for everyone.

Hat tip to Luke.

Article taken from
Tags: Drivers, NVIDIA
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly. Find me on Mastodon.
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Thormack Aug 16, 2018
Hope NVIDIA actually DOES something about it.
Thankfully I could get bumblebee working. Not an ideal solution of course.

Before bumblebee, I was using my Optimus system in DISCRETE mode.
For some unknown reason, my FAN keep getting crazy even in simple tasks and from time to time it did short bursts. Extremely annoying!!
Purple Library Guy Aug 16, 2018
Quoting: GuestLaptops are expensive portable toys, no serious gamer uses them. All that I know who had a gaming laptop are using a desktop computer now.
Ah, are we at this kind of discussion? Well, my hard drive is eight inches long.
soulsource Aug 16, 2018
Why can't nVidia just use the same functionality that is working like a charm with the Nouveau (the open source community nVidia driver) and the AMD drivers?

I'm of course talking about DRI PRIME, which has been working as good as Craptimus works on Windows (what is really not that good - screen tearing and stuff) for the last two years on my Gentoo-laptop.
stretch611 Aug 16, 2018
Quoting: GuestLaptops are expensive portable toys, no serious gamer uses them. All that I know who had a gaming laptop are using a desktop computer now.

I use my laptop for gaming. I use it for work, and I use it for casual surfing of the internet. Not a big surprise, I am using it to write this comment right now. I do have 3 "Desktop" computers right now as well... Admittedly, the youngest of which is 3 years old, so my current and prior laptop are both more powerful.

The fact is, my laptop works best for me. For work, it means that I can bring it with me to a client's location or even a cafe if we meet for lunch. As a developer, gaming laptops have the power I need to run multiple virtual machines, and a display with the resolution that I like when coding. In addition, the graphics card means I can attached 2 additional displays for 3 total monitors without any problems. I also find that gaming laptops usually have a decent keyboard as well.

When I visit relatives, especially for the holidays, I tend to stay a week or two. (one time I even stayed a full month.) Having a good gaming/work laptop is essential. Without a laptop, I would have to lug a full sized desktop, keyboard, and monitor to my relatives... and then hope they have the space to actually set it up (and seeing how I go during the holidays, space is a premium both in my car trunk and their houses.) Otherwise, I would not be able to do any work or gaming and have to borrow time on their computers when they aren't using them. (resulting in me needing to leave in a day or two, which is inconvenient due to the time and distance it requires to get to my relatives.)

Now, I consider myself a serious gamer... but your idea of serious gamer is obviously different than mine. And before you try to convince me that somehow your definition of serious gamer is the only correct definition, think of all the windows gamers that refuse to think that gaming on linux is even possible, or the console players that refuse to acknowledge PC gaming at all... Any self serving definition of serious gamer is just as wrong as the others regardless of your preferred platform.
rea987 Aug 16, 2018
Remember the status of AMD drivers on Linux couple years earlier? We were used to hear vague promises like "we are having a big progress, next xorg release will be remarkable, 0,22 FPS difference with previous milestone, etc... Now, we are witnessing a similar attitude and terminology from Nvidia. Sigh...

Nvidia Optimus forces me to downgrade 10 year old ETQW's resolution into 720p and graphical fidelity into bare minimums to get decent framerate that keeps me competitive on Geforce 940m. Not to mention most of standard Nvidia options are unavailable and SDL1.2 titles can get only native desktop resolution unless a third party tool like SDLCL is used.
sigz Aug 16, 2018
the best alternative is in my opinion the nvidia-xrun way ( ) you just start a secondary X session that fully runs on the nvidia GPU, all the games have 100% gpu power like nvidia prime, but you don't have to logout your current intel session, you don't need to shutdown your current work. The only flaw is that you must switch manually to a secondary terminal (ctrl+alt+Fx) and start your new X session, this cannot be automated.

Last edited by sigz on 16 August 2018 at 7:54 am UTC
lucinos Aug 16, 2018
too late nvidia, too late. I really do not care what nvidia does as I will never buy neither recommend nvidia for the foreseeable future. Just use an APU for laptop as they are good enough, and for desktop amd is now very good for gaming on linux.
x_wing Aug 16, 2018
Quoting: Guest
Quoting: Shmerl
Quoting: GuestIs this feature in place yet for AMD?

Doesn't AMD work with upstream PRIME properly already?

The only reason Nvidia is in such a mess is because they don't care to upstream their driver.

From your Archwiki link, it sounds like it's working, but you have to use an env variable for programs you want to run with your discrete GPU. I guess it's not automatic yet, where it moves rendering tasks over to the discrete when it somehow detects that rendering demands are high. I think that's how it's supposed to work, anyway.

I can guarantee that it works. One or two years ago I remember testing prime on a laptop of a friend (he had installed Linux mint on notebook with an integrated RX460) and it worked flawlessly with steam or any OpenGL application.

AMD has been doing everything so right at Linux that in less than 5 years to end up with a better driver than Nvidia on every aspect. I hope Nvidia starts to take same path, but for now I'll keep buying AMDGPUs for my systems. Definitely, Nvidia ain't the way it's meant to be played on Linux (IMHO ).

Last edited by x_wing on 16 August 2018 at 11:26 am UTC
drvictor666 Aug 16, 2018
I hope one day, the long battle with broken screen or lost performance after every other nvidia/kernel/xorg update will be over. I also hope it will be over because they fix it, not because i ditch the laptop :D
edo Aug 16, 2018
Quoting: GuestLaptops are expensive portable toys, no serious gamer uses them. All that I know who had a gaming laptop are using a desktop computer now.

Gaming is just one of the many things I do with my laptop. For a programmer is very important to have a pc that they can carry around at their will.
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