Dell L502x Optimus support on Ubuntu 14.04

The Dell XPS L502x is a hybrid graphics portable from few years back (2011?). It came with Windows 7 by default and as we all know Optimus technology (switching between the low-end Intel HD3000 graphics engine and mid-end NVIDIA GeForce engine) is working more or less flawless on the Windows OS. On Linux however things have not been so great, users had to fiddle around with the Bumblebee package which eventually would or wouldn’t work, plus if you wanted to use the power profile one had to run the application by adding the ‘optirun’ command (ex: optirun glxspheres).

More recently NVIDIA has done some improvement on their behalf into supporting Optimus by deploying the nvidia-prime package. And as of Ubuntu 14.04 this is also available in the LTS release, however in my experience it was not working… Running the ‘nvidia-settings’ command gave me a “PRIME: is it supported? no”-message. So how did I fix it?

Well first open “Software & updates”, go to the last tab that is about hardware drivers and install the Nouveau display driver. Newt open a terminal and run following commands:

sudo apt-get purge bumblebee*
sudo apt-get purge nvidia-*

Now reboot. When you’re logged in again, open the same drivers tab of the “Software & updates” window you’ve opened previously, and now again install the NVIDIA binary driver (nvidia-331-updates). Afterwards check if all necessary packages have been uinstalled, so run following commands:

sudo apt-get install nvidia-settings
sudo apt-get install nvidia-prime

If all went well during the driver install running both these commands should not install any extra packages. Now reboot again. When logged again, run again ‘nvidia-settings’ in a terminal, now you should see the following message: “PRIME: is it supported? yes”.

Schermafdruk van 2014-04-30 12:21:30

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6 thoughts on “Dell L502x Optimus support on Ubuntu 14.04

  1. Daniel says:

    Works brilliantly. Nice guide and easy instructions. I only followed the guide from installing nvidia-331-updates and onwards, since I was using a clean install of Ubuntu 14.04. It works great. It’s a shame that you have to log in and out to switch graphics, but it’s not too bad.

  2. 0lesya says:

    It saved my life, thanks for the guide!
    After one of the latest updates the ‘PRIME Profiles’ menu suddenly disappeared, as well as nvidia-331 (proprietary, tested) driver.
    After lots of searches, re-/uninstallations I still couldn’t fix it in any way, and it was driving me crazy. Until, at last, I found these instructions. 🙂

    I hope, that in the future the developers will find a way to enable switching between GPUs without logging out & in, but it’s still great.

    p.s.: is it safe to use it with new nvidia-340 driver?

  3. Im actually using zorin os 9 core (14.04) did the steps above twice on a clean install but on logging in it gives me desktop without gnome toolbars… only icons… any ideas?

  4. Dell User says:

    does anybody else find their computer freezing after this? can unfreeze by switching in and out of console mode but freezes definitely started appearing after I did this. Procedure seemed to have worked perfectly. Computer is a dell xps 15

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