We recently purchased a new computer for my mother. She wanted nothing to do with Windows, and asked if we could install Linux. An Ubuntu 10.10 install went well, but a few things were missing. Namely, the 10hr+ battery life claimed by the manufacturer. I quickly discovered the LCD brightness was set to 100% and both video cards were enabled.

First problem: The brightness adjustment keys didn’t work. That issue was easily fixed by following the steps at: http://wiki.daviddarts.com/Ubuntu_Maverick_on_the_Asus_UL30VT#Scripts_to_Activate_Screen_Brightness_Keys.

Second problem: The laptop includes two video cards: a slow low power-use Intel and a fast high power-use Nvidia. Only one card is enabled at a time in Windows; normally the Nvidia is disabled to save power. The steps listed on http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1366605&page=11 reference steps on http://linux-hybrid-graphics.blogspot.com/2010/07/using-acpicall-module-to-switch-onoff.html. To simplify the solution, I’ll document the complete set of steps to simply disable the Nvidia card here:

  1. Open a Terminal window and enter the following commands
  2. echo options nouveau modeset=0 | sudo tee -a /etc/modprobe.d/nouveau-kms.conf
  3. sudo update-initramfs -u
  4. git clone http://github.com/mkottman/acpi_call.git
  5. cd acpi_call
  6. make
  7. sudo insmod acpi_call.ko
  8. ./test\_off.sh
  9. sudo cp acpi_call.ko /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/
  10. sudo gedit /etc/modules
  11. Add acpi_call as the last line in the /etc/modules file. Save and close the file.
  12. sudo depmod
  13. sudo modprobe acpi_call
  14. To run test_off.sh on start up, go to: System > Preferences > Startup Applications > Startup Program > Add.
  15. Use anything for the name, such as “Turn off Nvidia Video”.
  16. Select test_off.sh as the command.
  17. Click: Add > Close.

Note: The above procedure simply disables the Nvidia card. If you need to switch between the two cards, the process is documented at: http://asusm51ta-with-linux.blogspot.com/. I’ll update this article in the future if I decide to further modify my mother’s system.