Optimus Support - Ironhide Project

  9 years ago

How to use the discrete Nvidia Graphic Card with the Optimus Technology



The Ironhide project seems a little outdated. I suggest to use the Bumblebee Project which is a more automatic configuration, but has no graphical application to specify power rules.



The proprietary Nvidia Optimus technology is a dual Intel/Nvidia graphic card system supposed to save battery life on laptops. On Windows, an automatic balance switch the Nvidia GC on when an application needs 3D rendering or video decoding. The Nvidia GC is switched off automaticly to save power when the application is closed. The Ironhide project is an experimental application on Ubuntu distros to launch softwares on the Nvidia card.

Basically, to deal with the Nvidia card, a second hided X graphic server is launched, and frames are send to the desktop by compressed images.

Each laptop model have specific commands to deal with the Nvidia card power switching (called ACPI). So, an online database is coming with Ironhide to share successfull settings between Optimus users.

1.Install the Ironhide project from PPA

The Ironhide project come from the Bumblebee project creator but only available on Ubuntu based Linux distros (like Linux Mint)

In the PPA repository come an new applet to configure some applications to be launched on the discrete graphic card.

To install them, you can add ppa:mj-casalogic/ironhide in your sources list and install it from Synaptic or Software Manager. The applications are named "ironhide" and "ironhide-ui".

Or you can just type this command in your terminal:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:mj-casalogic/ironhide && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ironhide ironhide-ui

2.Configure the Optimus server

On the installation, the settings are not fully set.

Before launching the configuration a reboot is necessary to setup easily the Nvidia driver module.

Then you can launch and follow steps in a terminal with :

sudo ironhide-configuration

This tool will detect your laptop model and suggest tested configuration. For X64Jv (and may N61Jv), you can use the first one.

Then a compression method is asked. You can use the XV, wich is the default one.

In case of problem, you can re-run this utility, and test different settings. An second application is available for working configuration named ironhide-settings for further settings.

3.Run application with the discrete card

To run an application on the Nvidia graphic card, you can use the optirun command followed by the application name, like:

optirun glxgears

You can specify the bits system to use with optirun32 (for 32bits) or optirun64 (for 64 bits).
Some applications won't run in some mode by their implementations.
For example, wine must be launch with optirun32, because of the 64bits mode in not implemented (yet).

4.Use the Ironhide applet

In your main menu shortcuts appears the "Ironhide Indicator" and "Ironhide Applications Settings" launchers.

With the Ironhide Indicator, an icon will appear in the task bar. From this, you can access to the preferred applications configured with Optimus support, and the configuration panel "Ironhide Applications Settings".

From here, you'll see the application from your main menu. Select one and press apply. On the next panel, you can specify the way to use the graphic card, the bits mode, and the compression type.

To get this applet on the launch of your gnome session, you can add it to the "Start Launched Applications" from the Control Center. Add a new line, and type ironhide-indicator in the command line.


Ironhide PPA
Ironhide Git Repository
Nvidia Optimus page
Follow the progress on Optimus on Phoronix


tedr56 9 years ago

Hi, thanks for follow this tutorial, however, I would suggest you to use the bumblebee project wich is a more automatic and updated solution.

I can't help for the repo error whoch no such informations.

Maybe the Ironhide project has evolved and the apps have been rename.

For the bumblebee project, follow the steps : http://bumblebee-project.org/install.html#Ubuntu

dedebatou 9 years ago


Thanks for this very good tutorial.
I'd try to install Ironhide, all seems ok but in my main menu shortcuts there is not appears the "Ironhide Indicator" and "Ironhide Applications Settings" launchers ! I don't understand why???

mooks 9 years ago


your tutorial is really awsome! however it doesn't work for me because i can't update synaptic with your repository.

i added it correctly but always get an error... how could that be?

tedr56 10 years ago

Thanks for this feedback. It's my first tutorials, I'll try to improve them.

blueXrider 10 years ago

From a newbie point of view.

1. No explanation as to what Ironhide is.
2. No stated advantages as to using this application.
3. No stated reasons as to compatibility issues ie: ATI cards
4. What enhancements are expected.
5. Screen-shots included in a tutorial make it easier to understand.
6. HTML links to support are also nice.

I would caution anyone following these instructions without further explanation.