I found this post in Google when I was searching for a related issue. I hope you will read this because I registered on this forum just so I could reply to your post. I may have some solutions for you, so read on.
The status quo with nVidia Optimus (or Optimess as a commenter on a blog called it) on Linux is that nVidia does not support it. At least two nVidia employees have said so in public forums. I can look up the exact posts if you'd like me to. For now let's look at solutions though.
OK so you've already heard about Bumblebee and Ironhide which bring Optimus support to Linux. Well maybe it helps sharing my experience with them, before I get into a solution for your fan issue.
So, both these projects allow you to utilize the nVidia graphics chip on Linux, using the terminal command optirun. So let's say you wanted to run a game that supports OpenGL (SuperTuxKart for example), in the terminal you could run it accelerated by entering optirun supertuxkart followed by the Enter key of course. Similarly a Windows program would run under wine like so optirun wine SketchUp.exe. I've tested this thoroughly and it works great.
First I tried Ironhide, which works pretty good. From what I understand however, its code base isn't very secure, with untrusted sources et al. Don't pin me down to it, it's just something I've heard and cannot corroborate. Second I've tried Bumblebee (the restarted project that is), which gave me much better performance and more compatibility with other programs. For example Google SketchUp didn't run at all with Ironhide, but it did with Bumblebee.
Well hopefully now you can using the methods described above. However, you can not (as far as I know) - in the current state of either project - turn the card off. Even though it won't run it's OpenGL, OpenCL or CUDA acceleration, the card will still consume power. I'm never on the road myself, so it isn't much of a problem for me. Still, it would be nice to know that instead of the normal 90 Watts I normally use with this laptop, it would actually consume less and save energy that way.I even went as far as to tear the laptop apart to see if I could just completely unplug the Nvidia card, but of course its integrated into the main board. I really dont care if the Nvidia part works or not, though I have to say I would prefer it did because Ive always bought laptops with just basic specs, my focus being more in the area of battery life and RAM, etc. This is the first time I have bought a laptop with something remotely considered 'higher end' specs so it would be nice to get the experience of the graphics capabilities.
I feel your pain. You're running 11.10 right? And your graphics chip from the specs I can find online is a GT550M. I've had the exact same issue with my GT555M on Ubuntu 11.10, so that being such a close match to your card I'd say it's safe to assume we're suffering from the same issue. From what I've read on the Internet it is because of a bug in the Linux kernel. There are even some articles on this site (Phoronix) about it. I know it has also been fixed in a new kernel version, but I haven't tested it. When I switched to Ubuntu a few weeks ago I looked at the last few released from 10.04 LTS onwards and in the end I chose 11.04 because it was 1) the latest version that still supported Gnome 2.x (I don't like Unity at all, hence) and 2) because my fan wouldn't run constantly. One of my prerequisites for a laptop is that it's quiet, so I didn't go with the latest and greatest Oneric Ocelot (11.10). My advice therefore is, if you can, downgrade to Xubuntu 11.04. Backup all your settings and documents and then do a fresh install on a reformatted disk or partition. I'm pretty certain your fan issue will dissolve right away.At any rate, my main beef is with the stupid fan. It runs CONSTANTLY. Though my CPU temps stay mostly in the low 120* range. I assume the fan is running constantly because of the graphics card and having no specific driver for it. Thats my Assumption anyway.
At this time I recommend to use Bumblebee over Ironhide, but compatibility and performance may vary on other hardware and I only want to speak from my own experience.What I am not clear on is the proper install process for getting either Ironhide or any other driver installed. Can anyone help out with that?
The installation process is explained on this page: https://launchpad.net/~hybrid-graphics-linux and it is not all that difficult. Especially if you are going through the PPA route, it is simply entering some commands in a terminal and then you're good to go. However, I will attempt to simplify these steps for you and list below only the actual steps, leaving the added info out. Although I do recommend reading the page I reference above as well. This assumes you have an nVidia Optimus videocard and have not installed Bumblebee nor Ironhide before.
Bumblebee installation steps
- Open a terminal
- Ubuntu 11.04 and earlier: From the Gnome main menu click Applications > Accessories > Terminal.
- Ubuntu 11.10: In the Unity Dash type Terminal and then select it from the search results.
- Copy and paste the following command in the terminal (confirm this and subsequent terminal commands with the Enter key on your keyboard):
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
- Then do the same with this command:
sudo apt-get update
- And lastly this command:
sudo apt-get install bumblebee
You will see a bunch of text messages go by and you may be asked to confirm if you want to download and install the package. If you want to proceed, press Y on your keyboard followed by the Enter key.
That's it. With Ironhide you have to go through a configuration process, but Bumblebee doesn't require that.
So, using the commands I have already explained above with optirun you can start any program you'd like to run accelerated. Remember that it's not only OpenGL that is supported, but also other kinds of acceleration, I imagine video acceleration is among those as well, but I can't say for certain. The optirun command is the same by the way for both Bumblebee and Ironhide.
I really hope this helps you, or anyone else with this problem for that matter. Otherwise I've wasted an hour of my time typing this.