Ubuntu – External displays with Bumblebee


I'm trying to connect my external monitor (via VGA cable) to my laptop, using Bumblebee and the Optimus configuration.

I have a Lenovo W520, with an Intel GMA HD 3000 and an Nvidia Quadro 2000M. The BIOS has three options regarding the graphic cards – integrated, discrete, and Optimus.

The use case is very simple. For work, I just use the integrated card and the laptop display; when I watch movies though, I want to use my projector. Now, what I have to do in this case is:

  • reboot
  • start windows
  • watch the movie

Thanks to Bumblebee, I'm able now to keep the setup always as Optimus.

Before BB, I had to change the BIOS setting every time I wanted to watch a movie, because even in windows, using integrated graphics caused the projector not to be detected by the system (I suppose that this is what they generally mean by "hardwired output", and that the VGA output is hardwired to the discrete card).

Now, what I'd like to do, is to be able to connect the external monitor without having to switch O/S, that is, to use it in Ubuntu.

Is it possible?

Right now, if I want to use the external monitor on Ubuntu, the only option is to change the BIOS to use the discrete graphics, then use nvidia-settings.

If I use instead the Optimus setup, even when I run it using "optirun nvidia-settings -c :8", I don't get any option for an external monitor.

Is there something I can do?

Best Answer

I have a W520. It is not the same setup as the T420 - the VGA output is wired to the nvidia card, so the "this" link from Samsagax will not work. I've prepared a blog post here outlining the options you have. I was unable to get either external monitor to work with Bumblebee, and I do not believe it is possible with the W520. However, you can use an extenal monitor in optimus mode, but you either have to use xinerama or open a separate X screen on the extenal monitor.