Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am currently beyond excited.  A few months ago, I made the (somewhat) mistake of buying an Acer Aspire 5750G off of  This computer is fantastic: It has an i7 processor, 500GB hard drive, 4 GB memory, and, wait for it, an nVidia GT540M graphics card, all for under $800.  I was am thrilled, but of course nothing is perfect.

The graphics card has been the source of much of my anger and frustration since buying Aragorn.  I have run Ubuntu on all my computers for about 3 years now.  I usually dual boot them with windows to appease my gaming habits, but my all of my work and anything non-game related is done on Linux.  I've had some recent frustrations with Ubuntu's current direction, but it hadn't been enough to boot me off entirely.  Well, not until Aragorn, anyway.

The problem is that this computer actually has two graphics cards: one is a low quality one attached to the motherboard, and the other is the nVidia GT540M.  In windows, nVidia has the Optimus software, which allows the computer to choose which card to use for which tasks: if it is just running a browser, it's fine to be on the onboard chipset, but if its running Civ, it switches to the nVidia card.

Linux didn't have any replacement for this software. This meant that linux could only use the first card it found, namely the one on the motherboard.  A series of issues ensued, including not being able to run unity or anything graphics intensive, including screen savers.

After months of arguing with the computer and attempting to fix issues and get around it, I got so fed up I tried to quit.

Seriously, I tried.

I spent 2 weeks using only Windows.  I can't believe I spent 22 years with only this operating system.  I can't stand it.  While the annoyances with Ubuntu were entirely aesthetic, the list of things that annoyed me in Windows are a bit more endless:

  • You can't highlight words and then middle click to copy?  Seriously? I have to hit ctrl-c ctrl-v every time?
  • No workspace switcher? You mean I have to actually have every window that is currently open in the same workspace?  Nope, my neuroses will not accept that.  And yes, there are things you can install that try to emulate the workspace switcher in windows, but none were anywhere close to as seamless as linux.
  • There is no replacement for Kile as a latex editor.  None.
  • No package manager? You mean I have to update all my programs by remembering that I have to update them? And to get packages, I have to go to semi-sketchy looking websites with no promise that the software isn't just malware? Grah. 
  • Trying to do anything on the terminal is far more obnoxious.  Granted, it may be that I'm used to unix commands, but even things as simple as changing permissions was a complete chore.
  • I kinda hate using the mouse.  I will admit to being a bit of a shortcut junky. As far as I found, there was no easy shortcut manager in windows.  Grah. 
  • This one is certainly the winner: Windows thinks it knows what I want it to do.  It just fixes things for me and tries to make sure that I can't mess up anything.  For example, it tried to keep matlab from saving movie files I had made.  Seriously?  Stop it.... I and I alone know what's best for my computer.  If I want to mess it up, so be it.  I'll learn something from it after the screaming of profanity has ended.

So yesterday, I had had enough.  I just couldn't take it anymore.  I booted Aragorn back into Ubuntu since I could happily live there even if there was no screensaver.  Just for kicks, I decided to look back into the Bumblebee page.  I had found this information when I first got the computer, but the project was not nearly complete enough for a n00b like me to be installing it.  I broke several installations of Ubuntu, reinstalled multiple times, and then gave up.  However, yesterday I found the bumblebee project up and running.  I installed it in 3 lines and now everything works. 

In case you are running ubuntu, installation instructions are below:

1. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable

1bis. If you are on Ubuntu prior to 11.10 and want newer drivers (recommended)
than the ones available in the official repos, run:

    sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-x-swat/x-updates

2. sudo apt-get update
3. sudo apt-get install bumblebee

It is truly beautiful.  Not only that, it has rekindled my love of the linux community.  There was a problem, it took some time, but some awesome people fixed it.

Now if only I was good enough to contribute........

Thank you, people who made Bumblebee possible!!! I very much appreciate your time and effort!


  1. So you name your computer Aragorn? My previous one was Narya, and the one before that Narsil. Good job Liz.
    And don't hate el Cuervo for this but there is software to do middle click copy in Windows, and if you so want you can definitely run Kile on it as well. Finally, Windows comes now with power shell, but it would be another thing to learn. I need to use Windows for work often, so I have found my way to make it very pleasant.

  2. Microsoft paid you to say that, didn't they, Cuervo?