[ltp] Thinkpad W520, nouveau and external monitors

Micha linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Fri, 17 Feb 2012 15:34:56 +0200

I have the w520 with a Quadro 2000m. The nouvou driver is not even
remotely an option for me though so I can't report on that (first thing
I do with a new kernel is delete it so it doesn't get in the way). As
for the hardware setup, the external connectors are indeed connected to
the NVIDIA and can't be run from the intel processor. With the default
optimus setup X won't start with the nvidia driver so you can't connect
external monitors. You can however change the video settings in the bios
from optimus to discrete (always run discrete graphics internal and
external, intel disabled). In this case the external connectors work
just fine with nvidia-settings. The propriatry nvidia driver doens't
know xrandr I'm afraid. You are however limited to two monitors total,
two external or one internal and one external. I've heard some partial
success stories about bumblebee and CUDA works as well, so it may be
possible to do something more interesting. Note however that if I'm
running off the Intel and connect and external monitor the kernel goes
crazy and starts spewing all sorts of junk to console and the machine
begins to be mostly unusable (and still no external display in that setup).

Also note (unrelated to the graphics) that I haven't been able to
connect my usb3 external hard drive to the usb3 port as it crashes
either the usb storage or the whole usb stack, not sure.

Hope it helps

On 17/02/2012 14:38, Marco Vittorini Orgeas wrote:
> Hi list,
> I am in the middle of a pre-purchasing evaluation of some thinkpad
> models, in particular I am looking at w520 line and trying to understand
> if I will be able to easily attach an external monitor to the VGA output
> and configure it with the xrandr extension, all done using the free
> nouveau driver.
> Is there somebody who owns such a system and can report if such a
> configuration can be easily achieved?
> Note: I don't mind if the laptop monitor is off when I attached  the
> external one: that's because sometimes I am in a place where I can
> access some big LCD monitors and I'd like to work on those by connecting
> them to the laptop.
> I've done a bit  of research on the matter and it seems that w520 models
> are equipped with either a NVIDIA 1000m or 2000M coupled with an on-chip
> integrated intel GPU.
> The intel GPU is used to save on power consumption and seems to be
> connected *only* to the laptop LCD, so to have the VGA working the
> nvidia card has to be used instead (on windows this can be done
> automatically with the optimus nvidia extension but on linux this is not
> yet supported and it should be pre-selected in BIOS on boot which mode
> to use) see
> http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Installing_Debian_Wheezy_on_a_ThinkPad_W520
> and
> http://zachstechnotes.blogspot.com/2012/01/tri-head-display-on-linux-thinkpad-w520.html
> .
> In conclusion, nouveau + nvidia 1000m/2000m + external VGA monitor: is
> this possible ?
> Thank you in advance,
>                         Marco