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I have a Dell XPS L702X laptop which has an Intel and Nvidia card built into it. In Windows the laptop will switch between the two depending on power usage, so I can run the Intel card when I want better battery and the Nvidia card for games or general plugged-in use. In Windows 7 it works great (other than a weird white balance thing sometimes with the Intel card when it activates).

I install Ubuntu 11.10, and I had to install the Nvidia drivers after it was installed. When Ubuntu boots it uses the Nvidia drivers. Is there a way that I can choose to switch between the two at boot? For most things I don't need the 3D drivers to run and it seems to suck the battery as well as run the fan constantly, so I hate to run in Linux for long periods of time.

Since I don't think there is a way to get this to work like Windows, what's my best option? I don't mind having to reboot if that is what it takes.

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To use the nVidia card in Linux, you can try Bumblebee, which works reasonably well (but not automatically, you have to specify when you want to use the nVidia card); for Ubuntu, there is a PPA available.

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This functionality, the active switching between the Intel and Nvidia graphics chipsets, is called Nvidia Optimus.

As of now, Nvidia doesn't support Optimus technology on Linux, and it doesn't seem like they plan to in the near future.

You'll just have to choose between which graphics card you'd like to use. If you prefer Nvidia graphics, then install the Nvidia proprietary driver. If you prefer Intel graphics, then do nothing.

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Actually, Optimus can work under Linux using Bumblebee. –  Renan Mar 11 '12 at 4:38
    
There seems to be a bug. Ubuntu will install fine using the Intel drivers, but then when it boots it wants to always use the Nvidia drivers. I'll give Bumblebee a shot though. –  dragonmantank Mar 11 '12 at 5:14
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