The above image is copyrighted by Gigabyte, I just wanted to give a good stock photo of what their lower-end Aero laptop looked like.
How I Got It Working
Here’s a small bit of documentation regarding how I succesfully booted various GNU/Linux Distributions on my Aero15X laptop, for those interested.
Here’s a pic of the laptop when running Manjaro Gnome. I learned early on that I wouldn’t be able to succesfully boot Manjaro on this bad boy with the GTX 1070 dedicated GPU left on. After disabling the GPU in the BIOS, it turns out the Arch-based distro booted fine into a live medium and installed fine. The issue here is that neither bbswitch nor bumblebee itself properly enabled the graphics switching on here, so I was limited to the intel gpu with poor graphics performance, but decent 6-8 hour battery life.
After doing some initial research, it seems that NVIDIA Optimus needs a bit more support from the Linux kernel itsself, as of kernel 4.18.xx. Here’s hoping that, as of the release of kernel 5.xx.xx we will see a few more developments for Optimus in the future. In the first sentence of this paragraph, I linked a slightly aged guide to get it running. After trying a few things in that guide, here is what didn’t work for Arch-based distros:
1. disabling the GPU got the distro to install properly, but then bumblebee wouldn’t properly install afterwards
2. the nvidia-prime install in the AUR is depressingly out of date as of the end of 2018/Jan 2019 and therefore didn’t help me
3. nvidia-xrun would work properly, but various steps were required to get it running in another desktop on this laptop. I didn’t have time for such steps, as I use this thing for school as well as side-jobs until I move in June of 2019.
Just Straight Arch
Here we have a placeholder image, as I had too many issues getting bumblebee and the like to properly work after neither the ArcoLinux installer nor a terminal-based install for Arch would work properly with the GPU on…so of course I again installed this distro with the dGPU (dedicated GPU) off and everything went swimmingly on into a desktop. I’ve come to the conclusion, for future laptop choices, that I’ll either get an AMD Ryzen APU-equipped laptop for light gaming or something that has dedicated graphics without needing to rely on special drivers for NVIDIA’s terrible Optimus implementation. NVIDIA has a lot of hate on laptops from the Linux community and it seems, at this point, it is rightfully deserved. (I gave up with limited time)
Pop!_OS from System76
The installer for Pop!_OS was just as easy to navigate and go through as a simple Ubuntu installer. The .ISO was seeded with the drivers for NVIDIA graphics cards, so everything went painlessly with the GPU enabled in the BIOS. I can disable or enable it at will from the BIOS just like with Manjaro, however UNLIKE Manjaro, I can keep the GPU on when the computer restarts and everything is fine. Under Manjaro it was a blank screen after loading…
Everything is A-OK! Though I would love to run a rolling release distro on here instead…
MX Linux, a twist on classic Debian
After hearing about the distro MX Linux, that had been growing in popularity amongst GNU/Linux Youtubers/LBRYians and Distrowatch, I decided to give this a try.
After burning the 64 bit ISO to a flash drive and booting to it, it booted into the desktop fine, however after installation is a different story. It would stick at the disk encryption screen and then, even after I input the correct passphrase, it would freeze at this screen to the right. Oh well. Was worth a shot.
I love the “grand-daddy” distros more than offshoots these days- if I could start off with stock Debian, MX Linux or stock Arch on this guy and go from there I’d be happy. Alas, the curse of NVIDIA Optimus.