Linux users with Nvidia Optimus (hybrid graphics) hardware currently face many challenges in order to optimally utilize their system. While there are many solutions that allow both integrated and discrete GPUs to be active, it is still not yet possible to utilize video outputs from both sources concurrently through a single display server session (X11 or Wayland). Although X.org 1.20 may allow this to be possible, until then there is only one other solution: separate session for each GPU. With a bit of work, it’s possible to use the Nvidia-XRun project to accomplish this.
Despite the many advances the GNU/Linux operating system has made over the past few years, there’s one area with which I have frequently struggled: hybrid Nvidia graphics. Being the owner of a laptop computer using Nvidia Optimus technology (i.e. having both an integrated Intel GPU and a discrete Nvidia GPU), I’ve spent more time then I’d like to admit getting the best performance possible out of both cards. Unlike on Windows, where Nvidia’s drivers and software make it easy to launch applications with either GPU, accomplishing the same isn’t quite as easy on Linux. Recently, I discovered a project that can accomplish this: Nvidia-XRun.
Although Arch Linux has packages for most everything, there is the odd circumstance when one can’t simply install one from even the AUR. I recently stumbled upon an old .deb archive, meant to be installed on Debian, Ubuntu, or a derivative, amongst some of my files. It’s for a game acquired from Humble Bundle, which I’ve had for so long I can no longer seem to find the URL to take me to the download page. While the AUR has various packages designed to install such files, they work with ones formatted in .tar.gz. As luck would have it, I discovered a handy utility alternative which allowed me to install the archive I have.
Recently, while performing some system updates, I mistakenly overwrote one of the system’s configuration files found in /etc. As I had not done any backups in some time (my own negligence), I wound up locking myself out of my system upon the next reboot. After using a live USB to restore the file from an older version, which I had to dig up, it was made evident I needed a better solution to prevent this from occurring. Enter etckeeper: a tool to keep track of all the changes made to configuration files.
One of the biggest advantages to using Arch Linux is having access to the Arch User Repositories (AUR). This allows packages which are not included in the official repositories to be provided all in one place. I much prefer this to (for example) Ubuntu PPAs which require a user include a separate PPA for every package they wish to install, and these may change with package updates. The reason such repositories exist in the first place is to allow a cohesive way for users to install packages through their system’s package manager more easily, instead of simply building and installing directly from source. Continue reading
As many Gnome users know, since Gnome Shell 3.18, the option to power down (much less prompt the user) by pressing the power button has been removed by the developers, now only allowing either Suspend, Hibernate, or simply to ignore the button press. While existing workarounds for this include using systemd to ungracefully shut the system down (no prompts), set a separate keyboard shortcut to achieve the same behaviour, or re-implementing the functionality manually in gnome-settings-daemon, I found these unnecessarily complicated or lacking value. Instead, I have developed my own method, which properly maps the power button to prompt the user to shutdown, reboot, or simply cancel. Continue reading
I’ve recently acquired a mouse that has extra buttons on it (side forward/back buttons), which I used on Windows for certain games. I discovered that while the keys were fairly easy to configure on Windows, it was more difficult to do on Linux. After looking up several guides, including information on the Arch Wiki, I had to put together something a bit different, which seems to be more simple than other suggestions I found. As a result, I’ve bound my forward and back keys on my mouse to Page Up and Page Down. Continue reading