[ltp] Thinkpad W520, nouveau and external monitors

Marco Vittorini Orgeas linux-thinkpad@linux-thinkpad.org
Fri, 17 Feb 2012 18:01:40 +0100

On 2/17/2012 5:19 PM, Fen Labalme wrote:
> I have a new T520 with integrated intel GPU (i7-2760) and Nvidia (NVS 
> 4200M) discrete graphics.  It comes with Windows 7 and BIOS set to 
> "Optimus" that does smart switching between the two.  I'm running 
> Ubuntu 11.10 with nouveau and have the BIOS set to "Integrated" that 
> uses only the Intel GPU (GNU/Linux does not yet natively support 
> Optimus) and am able to attach an external monitor via VGA seamlessly 
> (I use compiz and get an extended desktop - both Laptop and External 
> monitor making one large desktop).
I've read around that while T series is designed to handle the external 
interfaces also with the on-chip GPU, the W series intel GPU completely 
bypasses them.
So, in order to output on something different from the laptop lcd, you 
need to use the Nvidia gpu.
See my previous-es links for more info on this.
> The only issue I have is that my external monitor is larger than the 
> VGA can handle, so I have black stripes on the sides.  I'm hoping that 
> I can use Bumblebee <https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Bumblebee> 
> to support attaching the large external monitor to the DisplayPort and 
> get full resolution (this works under Windows 7) but am not yet sure 
> if this will work under GNU/Linux (see my as-yet-unanswered question 
> at 
> http://askubuntu.com/questions/104857/can-t520bumblebee-run-an-external-monitor-via-displayport).
> But if you want only the external monitor (and not the laptop, too) I 
> suspect that you could handle larger monitors just fine, though I have 
> not tested this.
> BTW: I tried the Nvidia proprietary blob from 
> https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-x-swat/+archive/x-updates 
> <https://launchpad.net/%7Eubuntu-x-swat/+archive/x-updates> and it 
> seems to run fine, too.  But like you, I'd rather stick with free and 
> open source software.
Well, yes, apart from preferring free options, as I said I had a very 
*bad* experience with the nvidia blob in the past with a t61 (and 
looking around it seems I am not alone - there are a lot of bugs reports 
opened on linux nvidia forums), without adding that the "BLOB" is 
developed without any rationale behind it, in a closed manner with users 
scattering around problems and hacks in the forums.
That's why I would stay as much as possible away from it.