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I have a T410 with an nVidia NVS 3100M, this is not a hybrid system, there is no Optimus. (No option in the BIOS for Optimus, lspci in linux as well as the Windows device manager only show the nVidia)

Using lspci I see the GPU as a present device, however, I can not, for the life of me, get any video driver to work that will let me start an X session, every time X craps out with the error (EE) No devices detected.

I have tried the nVidia binary blob, (with nvidia-config, made sure no nvidia support in the kernel), I have tried nouveau, I have tried nv, I have even tried generic vesa, nothing will work.

When I compare the dmesg that I get when loading the nvidia kernel module, I see that it is missing some lines compared with another system that also has an nvidia card, specifically the line mentioning the GPU name (3100M) is not there.

I have checked every option in the BIOS, there is nothing to control except for the BIOS video output port, which is set to the LCD panel.

I have no idea anymore what the problem may be, or even how I can diagnose this problem further. Any help will be appreciated.

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Sounds weird. The card should run perfectly with any recent GNU/Linux release. Maybe it's a hardware fault which you don't experience under Windows. – Shiki Sep 12 '12 at 5:18
It is weird indeed, but if something as fundamental as being detected by the driver is caused by a hardware fault I really would expect to see a similar problem in Windows, of course with nVidia being the closed shop it is I don't really have any way to check, short of replacing the laptop... – wich Sep 12 '12 at 5:24
Uhm Lenovo got a great warranty. Chances they can replace it locally at the service area are high. My laptop got replaced in 30 minutes. If you still have a warranty on it, that's your best shot. Bring a live Linux USB/disc with yourself. If you got now warranty, just use Windows and VMware 9. It's got 3D acceleration too. Don't get me wrong, I do want to help. – Shiki Sep 12 '12 at 5:26
The problem is that I would first have a corporate IT organization to get through; in short, not going to happen. – wich Sep 12 '12 at 5:28
Have you tried upgrading your BIOS to the latest version? Usually on ThinkPads, this also takes care of Video Card ROMs. You just may hit a bug here. A T410 should work just fine running Linux with X. – gertvdijk Sep 12 '12 at 7:36
up vote 0 down vote accepted

For those ever encountering a similar problem, the cause turned out to be the lack of a /sys mount point, many thanks to airlied @ freenode#nouveau

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