NVIDIA Optimus is a technology that allows an Intel integrated GPU and discrete NVIDIA GPU to be built into and accessed by a laptop. Getting Optimus graphics to work on Arch Linux requires a few somewhat complicated steps, explained below. There are several methods available:
- disabling one of the devices in BIOS, which may result in improved battery life if the NVIDIA device is disabled, but may not be available with all BIOSes and does not allow GPU switching
- using the official Optimus support included with the proprietary NVIDIA driver, which offers the best NVIDIA performance but does not allow GPU switching and can be more buggy than the open-source driver
- using the PRIME functionality of the open-source nouveau driver, which allows GPU switching and powersaving but offers poor performance compared to the proprietary NVIDIA driver and may cause issues with sleep and hibernate
- using the third-party Bumblebee program to implement Optimus-like functionality, which offers GPU switching and powersaving but requires extra configuration
- using the nvidia-xrun utility to run separate X sessions with discrete nvidia graphics with full performance
These options are explained in detail below.
- 1 Disabling switchable graphics
- 2 Using nvidia
- 3 Troubleshooting
- 3.1 Tearing/Broken VSync
- 3.2 Failed to initialize the NVIDIA GPU at PCI:1:0:0 (GPU fallen off the bus / RmInitAdapter failed!)
- 3.3 Resolution, screen scan wrong. EDID errors in Xorg.log
- 3.4 Wrong resolution without EDID errors
- 3.5 Lockup issue (lspci hangs)
- 3.6 No screens found on a laptop/NVIDIA Optimus
- 4 Using nouveau
- 5 Using Bumblebee
- 6 Using nvidia-xrun
Disabling switchable graphics
If you only care to use a certain GPU without switching, check the options in your system's BIOS. There should be an option to disable one of the cards. Some laptops only allow disabling of the discrete card, or vice-versa, but it is worth checking if you only plan to use one of the cards.
For another way see Hybrid graphics#Fully Power Down Discrete GPU.
If you want to use both cards, or cannot disable the card you do not want, see the options below.
The proprietary NVIDIA driver does not support dynamic switching like the nouveau driver (meaning it can only use the NVIDIA device). It also has notable screen-tearing issues that NVIDIA recognizes but has not fixed, unless you are using x.org > 1.19 and enable prime sync, see . However, it does allow use of the discrete GPU and has (as of January 2017) a marked edge in performance over the nouveau driver.
$ lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D'
The PCI address is the first 7 characters of the line that mentions NVIDIA. It will look something like
01:00.0. In the
xorg.conf, you will need to format it as
01:00.0 would be formatted as
If X.Org X server version 1.17.2 or higher is installed ()
Section "Module" Load "modesetting" EndSection Section "Device" Identifier "nvidia" Driver "nvidia" BusID "<BusID for NVIDIA device here>" Option "AllowEmptyInitialConfiguration" EndSection
Next, add the following two lines to the beginning of your
xrandr --setprovideroutputsource modesetting NVIDIA-0 xrandr --auto
Now reboot to load the drivers, and X should start.
If your display dpi is not correct add the following line:
xrandr --dpi 96
If you get a black screen when starting X, make sure that there are no ampersands after the two
xrandr commands in
~/.xinitrc. If there are ampersands, it seems that the window manager can run before the
xrandr commands finish executing, leading to a black screen.
If you are using a display manager then you will need to create or edit a display setup script for your display manager instead of using
For the LightDM display manager:
#!/bin/sh xrandr --setprovideroutputsource modesetting NVIDIA-0 xrandr --auto
Make the script executable:
# chmod +x /etc/lightdm/display_setup.sh
Now configure lightdm to run the script by editing the
[Seat:*] section in
Now reboot and your display manager should start.
xrandr --setprovideroutputsource modesetting NVIDIA-0 xrandr --auto
For the GDM display manager create two new .desktop files:
[Desktop Entry] Type=Application Name=Optimus Exec=sh -c "xrandr --setprovideroutputsource modesetting NVIDIA-0; xrandr --auto" NoDisplay=true X-GNOME-Autostart-Phase=DisplayServer
Make sure that GDM use X as default backend.
You can check if the NVIDIA graphics are being used by installingand running
$ glxinfo | grep NVIDIA
For more information, look at NVIDIA's official page on the topic .
This requires DRM kernel mode setting, which will in turn enable the PRIME synchronization and fix the tearing.1.19 or higher, kernel 4.5 or higher, and 370.23 or higher. Then enable
You can read the official forum thread for details.
Failed to initialize the NVIDIA GPU at PCI:1:0:0 (GPU fallen off the bus / RmInitAdapter failed!)
Resolution, screen scan wrong. EDID errors in Xorg.log
This is due to the NVIDIA driver not detecting the EDID for the display. You need to manually specify the path to an EDID file or provide the same information in a similar way.
To provide the path to the EDID file edit the Device Section for the NVIDIA card in Xorg.conf, adding these lines and changing parts to reflect your own system:
Section "Device" Option "ConnectedMonitor" "CRT-0" Option "CustomEDID" "CRT-0:/sys/class/drm/card0-LVDS-1/edid" Option "IgnoreEDID" "false" Option "UseEDID" "true" EndSection
If Xorg wont start try swapping out all references of CRT to DFB. card0 is the identifier for the intel card to which the display is connected via LVDS. The edid binary is in this directory. If the hardware arrangement is different, the value for CustomEDID might vary but yet this has to be confirmed. The path will start in any case with /sys/class/drm.
Alternatively you can generate your edid with tools likeand point the driver to this file. Even modelines can be used, but then be sure to change "UseEDID" and "IgnoreEDID".
Wrong resolution without EDID errors
Using nvidia-xconfig, incorrect information might be generated in Xorg.conf and in particular wrong monitor refresh rates that restruct the possible resolutions. Try commenting out the
VertRefresh lines. If this helps, you can probably also remove everything else not mentioned in this article.
Lockup issue (lspci hangs)
Symptoms: lspci hangs, system suspend fails, shutdown hangs, optirun hangs.
Applies to: newer laptops with GTX 965M or alike when bbswitch (e.g. via Bumblebee) or nouveau is in use.
When the dGPU power resource is turned on, it may fail to do so and hang in ACPI code (kernel bug 156341).
For known model-specific workarounds, see this issue.
In other cases you can try to boot with
acpi_osi="!Windows 2015" or
acpi_osi=! acpi_osi="Windows 2009" added to your Kernel parameters. (Consider reporting your laptop to that issue.)
No screens found on a laptop/NVIDIA Optimus
$ lspci | grep VGA
outputs something similar to:
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 02) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: nVidia Corporation Device 0df4 (rev a1)
NVIDIA drivers now offer Optimus support since 319.12 Beta  with kernels above and including 3.9.
If you wish to use Bumblebee, which will implement powersaving and some other useful features, see the wiki article on Bumblebee.