Nvidia NVS 5400 (Optimus) propietary driver on Linux Mint 16

For about 6 months, since I’m using the Nvidia NVS 5400 (with Optimus technology) video card, I’ve been having weird random crashes at boot time. Optimus was disabled at UEFI and I tried many versions of the Nvidia closed drivers. This happened both in Linux Mint 15 and Linux Mint 16 and no kernel upgrade (at least for now) solved it.

I disabled nouveau and nvidia drivers and booted on plain text mode. What I noticed was a repetitive sequence of events: 1. grub started fine, 2. a video controlled was used by the kernel, 3. at some point, the video controller was switched for a new one and that was the moment of the random crash. If the system crashed, no log nor output was given: only a freeze (sometimes black) screen. I think this issue is in the new video controller, that doesn’t load well every time or can’t handle the nvidia chipset.

So, If you are stuck on this, what I did was editing the /etc/default/grub file replacing GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT var with the following: GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT=”video=vga text nvidia.blacklist=1 nomodeset”. Then you have to run updagrade-grub2. nomodeset does the trick: when we disable KMS (Kernel Mode-setting) system boots with a fallback/legacy video controller and no crashes. After booting, we log in using the command line interface, run startx and we are on desktop with nvidia drivers loaded.

Of course we won’t have a beautiful graphic splash boot screen but works like a charm! No crashes, no pain.

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