Intel graphics

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Since Intel provides and supports open source drivers, Intel graphics are now essentially plug-and-play.

Note: For use within the console without X, see Uvesafb.


It is a popular mistake to think of "Intel 945G" and "Intel GMA 945" as being the same graphics chip with different names. As a matter of fact, the latter does not exist. Intel uses "GMA" to indicate the graphics core, or the GPU. Anything other than that is actually the model of the motherboard chipset, like "915G", "945GM", "G965" or "G45".

The more common GPUs and their corresponding motherboard chipsets are:

GPU                Chipset/Northbridge
Intel GMA 900         910, 915
Intel GMA 950         945

The "i810" chipset (again, motherboard; not GPU) is actually really old and was manufactured long before the 9xx product line with which the GMA onboard-graphics branding began. Similarly, alternative names for the 910, 915 and 945 chips may include the i prefix.

See this for a list.



Prerequisite: Xorg

Install the xf86-video-intel package which is available in the official repositories.

You may need to install lib32-intel-dri in 64-bit systems to use acceleration in 32-bit programs.

Note: lib32-intel-dri is found in the [multilib] repository.


There is no need for any kind of configuration to get the Xorg running (an xorg.conf is unneeded, but needs to be configured correctly if present).

One thing that you should have already done from the start (not a configuration step per se) is to add your user to the relevant group:

# gpasswd -a username video

KMS (Kernel Mode Setting)

KMS is required in order to run X and a desktop environment such as GNOME, KDE, Xfce, LXDE, etc. KMS is supported by Intel chipsets that use the i915 DRM driver and is enabled by default as of kernel v2.6.32. Versions 2.10 and newer of the xf86-video-intel driver no longer support UMS, making the use of KMS mandatory[1]. KMS is typically initialized after the kernel is bootstrapped. It is possible, however, to enable KMS during bootstrap itself, allowing the entire boot process to run at the native resolution.

Note: When using KMS, you must remove any references to vga from the kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst

To proceed, add the i915 module to the MODULES line in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf:

Note: If you have a first generation Core i{3,5,7} series processor with an integrated GPU, failure to add i915 to the MODULES array in /etc/mkinitcpio.conf will likely cause the error kernel: intel ips [...]: failed to get i915 symbols, graphics turbo disabled.
Note: You may need to add the intel_agp module too if the system complains at boot time.

Now, regenerate the initramfs:

# mkinitcpio -p linux

and reboot the system. Everything should work now. If you are having problems, try explicitly enabling KMS by adding i915.modeset=1 to your kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst:

# (0) Arch Linux
title  Arch Linux
root   (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/... i915.modeset=1
initrd /boot/initramfs-linux.img

and make sure that you do not use the vga=... property nor nomodeset. Now, reboot and Xorg will work.

If you ever want to disable KMS, you can change the i915.modeset option to 0 in GRUB's /boot/grub/menu.lst, without rebuilding anything:

# (0) Arch Linux
title  Arch Linux
root   (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-linux root=/dev/... i915.modeset=0
initrd /boot/initramfs-linux.img

i915.modeset=0 is the Intel equivalent to nomodeset for other video cards.

Note: Adding nomodeset to the kernel boot line might prevent GNOME 3's gnome-shell or KDE's desktop effects from running.

For disabling it without having to edit /boot/grub/menu.lst, turn on the machine and when you see GRUB's screen, hit a key to disable the timeout. Select the kernel you want to boot (probably the one already selected) and hit Template:Keypress for "edit". Now select the line starting with "kernel" and hit Template:Keypress again for editing. You can now add the i915.modeset option and disable KMS by setting it to 0. Press Template:Keypress and then Template:Keypress to boot. Note that this will be temporary, so it will be enabled again upon rebooting.

Note: Downgrade to kernel or disable modesetting with kernel boot parameter if you get a blank screen during boot process with the Intel GMA 950.

See also

Tips and tricks

Setting scaling mode

This can be useful for some full screen applications.

xrandr --output LVDS1 --set PANEL_FITTING param

where param can be

  • center: resolution will be kept exactly as defined, no scaling will be made,
  • full: scale the resolution so it uses the entire screen or
  • full_aspect: scale the resolution to the maximum possible but keep the aspect ratio.

If it does not work, you can try

xrandr --output LVDS1 --set "scaling mode" param

where param is one of "Full", "Center" or "Full aspect".

KMS Issue: console is limited to small area

One of the low-resolution video ports may be enabled on boot which is causing the terminal to utilize a small area of the screen. To fix, explicitly disable the port with an i915 module setting. For example, add the following to the end of the kernel line in /boot/grub/menu.lst:


If that does not work, you may also try disabling TV1 or VGA1 instead of SVIDEO-1.

Hardware acceleration

If you want to enable hardware accelerated video decode/encode in multimedia applications (such as VLC or MPlayer) for Intel HD graphics controllers (G45, Sandybridge), install the libva-driver-intel package, available in the Official Repositories.

Supported hardware



Glxgears shows low performance results

If you run glxgears in order to check your system's graphics performance, you may notice that glxgears shows results around 60 FPS:

311 frames in 5.0 seconds = 61.973 FPS
311 frames in 5.0 seconds = 62.064 FPS
311 frames in 5.0 seconds = 62.026 FPS

That is happening not because there is a performance regression, but because your system graphics are using vertical sync (vsync), that means, your display's native frames per second.

Note: glxgears is not a benchmark for performance comparison between two or more systems.
Note: To disable VSync just add in your /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf in Section "Device" string Option "SwapbuffersWait" "false"

Blank screen during boot, when "Loading modules"

If you are using "late start" KMS and the screen goes blank when "Loading modules", it may help to add i915 and intel_agp to the initramfs. See KMS above.

Alternatively, appending the following to the kernel command line seems to work as well:


External monitor connected to laptop flashes black every 30 seconds

If your laptop uses Intel HD graphics and your external LCD is flashing to black every 30 seconds, upgrading your video driver and kernel may help. As of now using xf86-video-intel version 2.14.0-1 and kernel 2.6.37-5 have solved this issue.

Only a single low-resolution present

If Xorg starts with 800x600 and does not find any other resolutions, it may be because you have an /etc/X11/xorg.conf file left over from your NVIDIA setup. Simply changing the driver from "nvidia" to "intel" is not sufficient when moving from NVIDIA's xorg.conf to Intel's. Try to delete /etc/X11/xorg.conf, letting the driver pick the settings itself.

Video tearing

Install VA-API support by installing the libva-driver-intel package. Use a VAAPI supported video player. If you use mplayer, install mplayer-vaapi, and use -vo vaapi parameter. To fix tearing on flash videos, try to enable hardware video decoding from /etc/adobe/mms.cfg and add line EnableLinuxHWVideoDecode=1. If hardware video decoding is still not working, you can also try adding OverrideGPUValidation = 1.

X freeze/crash with intel driver

If you have issue with X crashing, or GPU hang, or problem with frozen X, then the fix may be to use the "Shadow" option:

 Section "Device"
    Identifier "old intel stuff"
    Driver "intel"
    Option "Shadow" "True"
    Option "DRI" "false"

Because it disables (most) video acceleration functions, using this fix (Option "Shadow" "True") may cause problems with gnome-screenshot and similar programs like gimp, or gcolor2.

Another option that can help on some implementations is to enable semaphores in the kernel video driver, by adding i915.semaphores=1 to the kernel command line. To make this change permanent on GRUB2 installations, changing the kernel command-line entry in /etc/default/grub and re-running grub-mkconfig will make that change permanent.

 GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash i915.semaphores=1"

Adding undetected resolutions

This issue is covered on the Xrandr page.