How to setup Triple Screen on Ubuntu 12.04LTS with T520 Laptop

How to setup Tri-screen setup with Ubuntu 12.04 and T520 Laptop

I am writing this because I had a hell of a time getting this to work. With really horrible documentation online for new comers to Ubuntu Desktop.  Even if you are intermediately familiar with Ubuntu server, Ubuntu Desktop is involved if your attempting to get triple screens working.

After some digging I found that this particular Laptop and the current Ubuntu Drivers for Nvidia Optimus as Oct 12/2012 is major buggy and you will actually have trouble even booting off the Install CD, if your bios settings are not correct.

I even tried Debian Squeeze and after the packages upgrade there is an ACPI kernel bug which you would need to patch manually to get the laptop to boot, which is not good long term, so I don’t recommend trying Debian Squeeze with this laptop

I setup Ubuntu 12.04 with Gnome 3 and Tri-screens

  1. First thing you need to do is ensure you have Nvidia Optimus Set in your bios with Optimus Detection OFF, only then will your Ubuntu install CD boot, at least that what it did for me.
  2. Once you’ve you installed Ubuntu desktop environment
  3. Run ‘apt-get update’ & ‘apt-get upgrade’ and reboot. This is to ensure your OS will boot up so you don’t do all this work only to find that your laptop doesn’t boot after


  1. First thing you want to do is kill your desktop and sure your Xorg is not running in order to do this
  2. Press crtl-alt-f2, this will take you to shell
  3. Login as user
  4. Sudo or su to root ‘sudo su –“

pkill Xorg
pkill lightdm

  1. Next  you need to purge the exitsing drivers

apt-get remove –purge nvidia-current nvidia-settings
apt-get –purge remove xserver-xorg-video-nouveau

2. Now you in order to get this whole shebang to work you will need to install something called bumblebee, its honesty not the greatest thing, and believe me too me some time to figure out.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia


3. Once that’s done, reboot. Next, you’ll install some dependencies for later parts.

sudo apt-get install xorg-dev
sudo apt-get install git

4. Now, patch and install the Intel Graphics Driver to allow it to support a virtual display. Don’t worry if you download a newer version the patch should still work, as it did for me.

sudo apt-get build-dep xserver-xorg-video-intel
sudo apt-get source xserver-xorg-video-intel
cd xserver-xorg... #(the source you just downloaded, tab to autocomplete)
patch -p1 < xserver-xorg-video-intel-2.18.0_virtual_crtc.patch
sudo dpkg-buildpackage -b
cd ..
sudo dpkg --install xserver-xorg-video-intel_2.17.0-1ubuntu4_amd64.deb #(again, tab to autocomplete will let you avoid typing this long name)

5. Reboot again. At this point, if you execute xrandr in terminal, you should see two displays listed, one of them will be named VIRTUAL. This indicates that everything has installed correctly up to this point. Next, you’ll need to install screenclone, which copies the VIRTUAL display to your external display

git clone git://
cd hybrid-screenclone
sudo make
sudo cp screenclone /usr/bin/
sudo chmod +x /usr/bin/screenclone
sudo cp xorg.conf.nvidia /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia
sudo rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf

6. you’ll need to make the following modifications to /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf:


7. Next you want to make sure that OS updates wont affect your patched video card

 sudo -s
 echo xserver-xorg-video-intel hold | dpkg --set-selections
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

8. Oh yes you will need to ensure the nvidia driver loads upon boot, so edit the /etc/modules.conf

nano /etc/modules.conf’
add the line below without the quotes save the file and reboot


9. So now you need to get the the third monitor going. Login to your desktop as the user not root, and open a terminal as the user.

If you type “optirun true” you should see the third monitor light up and go green, but it will be blank.


10.  Next you need to use xrandr command to see the resutions.

I have put down what worked for me, however you will need to play with the resolutions based on your monitors setting provided by xrandr. If your screen lockup, ctrl-alt-f2, login restart

/etc/init.d/lightdm and /etc/init.d/bumblebee

now type ctrl-alt-f7 and relogin, go to terminal and type ‘optirun true’
you can also your ‘optirun glxspheres’ to see if the stuff works.

My Sequence., logged in as the user for the destop through the stop, in a terminal, remember you may need to play with the xrandr line to get the screen to work.

sudo optirun true

xrandr –output LVDS1 –mode 1600×900 –output VGA1 –mode 1600×1200 –right-of LVDS1 –output VIRTUAL –mode 1600×1200 –right-of VGA1

screenclone -d :8 -x 2

Hope this helped you



One Comment to How to setup Triple Screen on Ubuntu 12.04LTS with T520 Laptop

  1. Alexis says:

    Your post, Nick Tailor's Technical Blog » How to setup Triple Screen on Ubuntu 12.04LTS with T520 Laptop, is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from Alexis!

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