Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Run Ubuntu / Linux Mint 11.04 on HP dv6t Quad Core Edition with ATI/AMD Radeon HD 6770M Switchable Graphics


I just upgraded my notebook to a HP dv6t Quad Core Edition (September 2011) with Intel Core i7 2630QM and powered by ATI/AMD Radeon HD 6770M Switchable/Hybrid Graphics Card.

Running Ubuntu / Linux Mint 11.04 64-bit on it has a few problems like:

  • cannot boot Live CD / Live USB installer
  • crash / kernel panic during boot / stack trace regarding radeon module
  • cannot control screen backlight
  • screen is blank (completely dark black)
  • CPU / VGA / graphics / notebook fans are always on
  • power usage is high / sucking up battery / battery life is short
Fortunately, there are solutions and I will post how to solve them in this article series.

First of all please check your BIOS (press F10 during boot) to see if there's a switch for Switchable Graphics to Fixed/Dynamic. Or check if you have BIOS version F.1A or later.

If so then the switch feature should be there.

If not then I suggest upgrading to the latest BIOS from HP website. Please contact HP for further information as I cannot provide support on this.

Which mode should you pick? In my experience either Fixed or Dynamic works fine, what matters most is blacklisting radeon kernel module/driver.

To launch the Ubuntu 11.04 / Linux Mint 11 (Katya) Live CD / Live USB installer properly, at the GRUB2 boot choices screen press "e" or <Tab> (if you use unetbootin) to edit the GRUB2 boot command as follows:

  • remove : splash quiet
  • add (before "--") : radeon.modeset=0 rdblacklist=radeon xdriver=i915
I haven't tested which exact switches actually make the difference. If installer still hangs / crashes / blank screen, go to the BIOS and switch from Fixed to Dynamic and vice versa, then try again.

If you already installed Ubuntu / Linux Mint, follow these steps to blacklist radeon kernel module driver:
  1. Boot using Recovery choice (when prompted by GRUB2), or use Live CD / Live USB installer
  2. As root, create file /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-radeon.conf with the following contents:blacklist radeon
  3. Save the file and reboot.
Now you should be able to boot into Linux GUI / GNOME / X Server properly with the Intel Graphics card driver.

However even though you are using Intel graphics, the AMD/ATI Radeon HD 6770M graphics card is still powered on, consuming precious battery life.

To power off ATI Radeon HD card, as root, edit the file /etc/rc.local and append (before "exit 0") :

echo OFF > /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch

Save the file and reboot. Now you should have better battery life.
To check the Intel / ATI switchable graphics power state you can use:

$ sudo cat /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch
1:DIS: :Off:0000:01:00.0

The "1:DIS: :Off" means the discrete graphics (ATI Radeon HD) is powered off, so it's deactivated and not consuming any power.

Right now pretty much everything (except the ATI Radeon HD graphics card, which I'm not interested in activating right now) is working on my notebook/laptop.

Next what we can also fix screen / backlight display brightness setting not working. Watch this space for updates. :-) UPDATE: Solution found!

Find tips to optimize your Ubuntu 11.04 in Ubuntu Unleashed 2011 Edition: Covering 10.10 and 11.04 (6th Edition) !


  1. Thanks for the tips! I have the same laptop, and although I would prefer to get switchable graphics working, disabling the dedicated card in the meantime is still useful.

  2. Thank you for your help! I was actually looking for such an information for my dv6.

    Will there be any problems with booting Windows, namely that it won't boot?

  3. @Anonymous :

    The HP dv6t Quad Edition works flawlessly in both Windows 7 64-bit and Linux/Ubuntu (with tweaks).

    The ATI Radeon 6770 graphics card is *powerful*, I doubt you can find similar-priced laptop with such power. It easily beats any Nvidia graphics-based laptop!!

  4. I just got this laptop and I'm new to Linux as well. I've installed Ubuntu via wubi and noticed the issues you mention but I don't understand how to implement the solutions ... is there an easier way for a beginner? Thanks


  5. @Hendy Irawan: Thank you very much for your reply. I fixed every problem now. Take care!

  6. @Hendy Irawan: Do you know if there's anything new or different for Ubuntu 11.10 & Linux Mint 12?

  7. I just got this latotp and i have kind of experience working on linux, and the tutorial is flawless, but i have a problem working with the usb3 port, in opensuse 12.1 works fine, but in ubuntu does not load, any ideas?

  8. i have hp pavilion dv6 6030et, same goes for me.

  9. If you turn off the Radeon graphics on Ubuntu, will it still work on Windows 7?

  10. ok I cannot get Linux mint to load at all
    1 redownloaded my images
    2 reburned
    3 verified ok
    4 attempt to install, fails, screen goes black, then eventually no drive activity at all
    5 tried to do the edit relating to radeon at grub screen, but then i get to linux terminal prompt, (mint@mint....) Any help what to do from here?
    Thanks for any and all help, I do not want to put win 7 back on...

  11. Hey, check this out:

    what do you think? Will it work on the 6770M as well?

  12. Thanks for the works well on my heating.thanks man

  13. i get this error

    cat: /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch: No such file or directory

    also, when i modify the file rc.local and blacklist-radeon.conf, i get a black screen at login. i tried changing from fixed to dynamic, but no success.

    also, i followed the steps you told for brightness control, but no success.

    any suggestions will be very helpful.

    i get this output

    lspci | grep VSA
    root@---PC:/home/---# lspci | grep VGA
    00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)

    01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: ATI Technologies Inc Device 6740

  14. xrandr --output LVDS1 --brightness 0.65

    this works great without modifying the gamma

  15. I can't thank you enough... this fixed my HP DV7T-6000 quad edition with a Radeon Switchable card. When using Windows 7 because of my 6 cell battery I get up to 9.5 hours of battery. When trying to use Ubuntu 13.04, I could only get about 2 hours of battery use and it was running burning hot. I was about to give up but found your article. Since I don't game, I'm fine with just using the Intel card and disabling the Radeon. Your fix worked like a charm I can now get up to 9.5 hours from my battery and it doesn't run hot at all. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! PS. my Intel wifi card didn't work right either, it would see but not accept my router password. I found on another site that disabling the blue tooth would fix that and it did! Hopefully that helps someone else out.