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optimus-manager

IMPORTANT : this README is for version v1.2. If you are still using the previous version (v1.1), the corresponding README is available here : https://github.com/Askannz/optimus-manager/wiki/v1.1-README

This Linux program provides a solution for GPU switching on Optimus laptops (i.e laptops with a dual Nvidia/Intel GPU configuration).

Obviously this is unofficial, I am not affiliated with Nvidia in any way.

Only Archlinux and Archlinux-based distributions (such as Manjaro) are supported for now. Only Xorg sessions are supported (no Wayland).

Supported display managers are : SDDM, LightDM, GDM.

optimus-manager might still work with other display managers but you have to configure them manually (see this FAQ section).

Introduction

GPU offloading and power management with Nvidia cards are not properly supported on Linux (though there has been some great progress recently), which can make it hard to use your Optimus laptop at full performance. optimus-manager provides a workaround to this problem by allowing you to run your whole desktop session on the Nvidia GPU, while the Intel GPU only acts as a "relay" between the Nvidia GPU and your screen.

This is essentially a port to Archlinux of the nvidia-prime solution created by Canonical for Ubuntu.

To learn more about the current Optimus situation on Linux and how this solution works, read the Home Wiki page.

IMPORTANT : Gnome and GDM users

If you use Gnome or the Gnome Display Manager (GDM), there are a couple extra requirements to be able to use optimus-manager :

  • The default gdm package from the Archlinux and Manjaro repositories is not compatible with optimus-manager, so you must replace it with this patched version : gdm-prime (also replaces libgdm). The patch was written by Canonical for Ubuntu and simply adds two script entry points specifically for Prime switching. The package is otherwise identical to the official one.

  • Gnome launches Wayland sessions by default, which are incompatible with optimus-manager. To force Xorg sessions, You need to edit the file /etc/gdm/custom.conf and remove the # before the line #WaylandEnable=false.

Another quirk of GDM is that the X server may not automatically restart after a GPU switch. If you see an empty black screen or a black screen with a blinking cursor, try switching back to an empty TTY (with Ctrl+Alt+F5 for instance), then back to TTY1 with Ctrl+Alt+F1. See this FAQ question.

Installation

Naturally, you must have the proprietary nvidia driver installed on your system. On Archlinux, you can use the packages nvidia or nvidia-dkms. On Manjaro, it is fine to use the built-in driver utility.

You can install optimus-manager from this AUR package : optimus-manager

After installation, the optimus-manager daemon should have been started automatically, but you can check its status with systemctl status optimus-manager.service.

Important notes :

  • Custom Xorg config : optimus-manager works by auto-generating a Xorg configuration file and putting it into /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/. If you already have custom Xorg configuration files at that location or at /etc/X11/xorg.conf , it is strongly advised that you remove anything GPU-related from them to make sure that they do not interfere with the GPU switching process.

  • Nvidia-generated Xorg config : Similarly, if you have ever used the nvidia-xonfig utility or the Save to X Configuration File button in the Nvidia control panel, a Xorg config file may have been generated at /etc/X11/xorg.conf . It is highly recommended to delete it before trying to switch GPUs.

  • Manjaro-generated Xorg config : Manjaro has its own driver utility called MHWD that also auto-generates a Xorg config file at /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/90-mhwd.conf. optimus-manager will automatically delete that file to avoid issues.

  • Manjaro Gnome : see the previous section Gnome and GDM users

  • Manjaro KDE : Manjaro ships with a default configuration for SDDM (the default login manager for KDE) which overrides some keys needed by optimus-manager. To fix this, you need to edit the file /etc/sddm.conf and simply put a # before the line starting with DisplayCommandand the one starting with DisplayStopCommand.

  • Bumblebee : optimus-manager is incompatible with Bumblebee since both tools would be trying to control GPU power switching at the same time. If Bumblebee is installed, you must disable its daemon (sudo systemctl disable bumblebeed.service, then reboot). This is particularly important for Manjaro users since Bumblebee is installed by default.

  • nvidia-xrun : if you have previously installed nvidia-xrun by following instructions on the Arch Wiki, make sure all its configuration files are removed. See issue (https://github.com/Askannz/optimus-manager/issues/135).

  • GPU monitoring apps : if you have an application (or tray widget) that automatically monitors the Nvidia GPU for things like load, temperature, VRAM usage, etc, make sure it is not running before switching to Intel mode. Those applications work by constantly polling the nvidia driver, which may prevent it from being unloaded by optimus-manager.

Uninstallation

To uninstall the program, simply remove the optimus-manager package. The auto-generated Xorg config file will be automatically cleaned up.

You can also force cleanup by running optimus-manager --cleanup.

You can also disable optimus-manager by disabling the systemd service optimus-manager.service (needs a reboot to be applied).

Usage

Run

  • optimus-manager --switch nvidia to switch to the Nvidia GPU
  • optimus-manager --switch intel to switch to the Intel GPU and power the Nvidia GPU off
  • optimus-manager --switch hybrid to switch to the Intel GPU but leave the Nvidia GPU available for CUDA and PRIME Render offload
  • optimus-manager --switch auto to automatically detect which mode you are currently running and auto-switch to another (will switch to intel if you are in nvidia or hybrid mode, and to nvidia otherwise)

WARNING : Switching mode automatically logs you out, so make sure you save your work and close all your applications before doing so.

Auto-logout is supported for Gnome, KDE Plasma, Xfce, Deepin, i3, Openbox, AwesomeWM, and bspwm. You can disable it in the configuration file. In that case, the GPU switch will not be effective until the next login.

You can also specify which GPU you want to be used by default when the system boots :

optimus-manager --set-startup MODE

Where MODE can be intel, nvidia, hybrid.

System Tray App

optimus-manager systray screenshot

The program optimus-manager-qt provides a system tray icon for easy switching. It also includes a GUI for setting options without editing the configuration file manually.
AUR package : optimus-manager-qt

A Gnome Shell extension is also available here : optimus-manager-argos.

Kernel parameter

As an alternative to the --set-startup command, optimus-manager also allows you to set the startup GPU mode using a kernel parameter. This is useful if you want to create multiple entries in your bootloader with different GPU startup modes (for instance a "battery-saving" mode that starts with the Intel GPU, and a "gaming" mode that starts with Nvidia).

Simply add optimus-manager.startup=intel or optimus-manager.startup=nvidia to your kernel parameters list. Note that this parameter overrides whatever startup mode was set with optimus-manager --set-startup.

Also note that this parameter only affects which GPU your desktop session starts with ; it has absolutely no effect on the boot process before that, because optimus-manager has no control over it.

Power management

Since version v1.2, power management is disabled by default, so the Nvidia GPU will stay powered on (eating battery life) until manual configuration is done. This choice was made because there is no catch-all configuration that works for all laptop models, and incorrect configurations often break the boot process.

Please refer to the guide on power management in the Wiki.

Configuration

The default configuration file can be found at /usr/share/optimus-manager.conf. Please do not edit this file ; instead, edit the config file at /etc/optimus-manager/optimus-manager.conf (or create it if it does not exist).

Any parameter not specified in your config file will take value from the default file. Remember to include the section headers of the options you override.

Please refer to the comments in the default config file for descriptions of the available parameters. In particular, it is possible to set common Xorg options like DRI version or triple buffering, as well as some kernel module loading options.

No config changes will be effective until you computer is rebooted or the optimus-manager service is restarted.

You can also add your own Xorg options in /etc/optimus-manager/xorg-intel.conf and /etc/optimus-manager/xorg-nvidia.conf. Anything you put in those files will be written to the "Device" section of the auto-generated Xorg configuration file corresponding to their respective GPU mode.

If you need the display manager to run some specific commands to set up the display (to force a particular resolution, for instance), you can write them to /etc/optimus-manager/xsetup-intel.sh (for Intel mode) and /etc/optimus-manager/xsetup-nvidia.sh (for Nvidia mode).

Finally, if you need to run some specific code prior to enabling or after disabling the nvidia graphics card (for example, to manually enable the card if bbswitch is not supported), you can write the commands to /etc/optimus-manager/nvidia-enable.sh and /etc/optimus-manager/nvidia-disable.sh.

FAQ / Troubleshooting

See the FAQ section in the Wiki.

Credit

The Qt tray app was created by Shatur95.

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