M11XR3 Bumblebee and the dual screen setup

The setup:

  • Alienware M11XR3
  • Ubuntu 11.04
  • external Screen via Displaport adapter

The problem :

If you run linux, none of the gui-tools will even detect secondary screens, regardless of the port you use, effectively rendering them useless.

The Solution:

You install Bumblebee, a little Software tool for linux that allows you to run any program on the built in Nvidia card(the M11XR3 has two crads built in an Intel and the Nvidia).
When you force the output to display 8 (bumblebee default) while you have a screen attached to the displayport, you will notice the program will appear on that screen.
Try it:
export DISPLAY=:8.0
optirun gedit

Dont forget to reset your machine using Display 0.0. Of course you can call basically any program, I just find gedit makes a good example. I am not sure whether this effect is just a side effect or wanted behaviour, let's just use it to set up a working solution here. We will not be able to achieve Twinview here but at least we can work on the external screen :-)

What has to be done:
1. Set up the bumblebee xorg to match our external monitor(it runs 640x480 by default)
xorg.conf.nvidia by default it should be in /etc/bumblebee.xorg.conf.nvidia i

2. install xserver-xorg-input-void
If you tried my example from above you will notice two mousepointers, one on each screen. The reason is that linux needs one for each xserver. In order to get rid of the one on the external screen we install a dummy driver. In order to use our mouse and keyboard correctly, we will use synergy.

Install: sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-input-void

3. install Synergy and set it up to work with our setup
Synergy is used to connect multiple PCs to one set of input devices. We have multiple xservers, but for synergy that doesn''t make a difference. After installation you can just drag the mouse from one screen to the other.
I have my external Screen at the right of my laptop. If you have a different setup you might have to mess around with the synergy config. Sample Config: synergy.conf. Put it in /etc/synergy.conf Install: sudo apt-get install synergy

starting synergy:
#synergy server synergys -f -a 127.0.0.1 --display :0 -n child &
#synergy client synergyc -f -n main --display :8 127.0.0.1 &


4. install a windowmanager to work on
You read that right. I couldnt figure out how to run two gnome sessions on the same machine without them interfering with each other''s setup. So i figured the best way to work on this might be running a different windowmanager on the external screen. I use openbox (sudo apt-get install openbox), but I assume xfce or windowmaker would also work just fine.
run openbox by: optirun openbox-session
There are plenty of sites out there that describe how to setup the different WMs. So... that's basically it. You might wanna write a little script to start everything, put a shortcut on the desktop, et voila. Should work(I use it daily now). the script could look like this:

#starting openbox on external screen export
DISPLAY=:8.0
optirun openbox-session &
sleep 5
#synergy server
synergys -f -a 127.0.0.1 --display :0 -n child &
sleep 5
#synergy client
synergyc -f -n main --display :8 127.0.0.1 &
sleep 5
export DISPLAY=:0.0

Since this is more of a howto I hope someone finds it usefull :-) Live long and prosper

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