Installing Debian 10 Buster on an Asus Vivobook N705FD

I will go through the steps to install Debian Buster on an Asus N705FD. It is highly likely this guide will work exactly the same on many other Asus models. The main challenge most people will face is getting your discreet video card working properly in Linux. This model and other current models use a technology called Nvidia Optimus. The Optimus technology was created to assist in saving battery life in our laptops and also reduce heat created by turning off the discreet video card. In Windows this system is automatic, but no so much in Linux. First lets get to the base model specifications that I am currently publishing this article with.

Specifications

  • Intel Core i7-8565U Quad Core Processor 1.8ghz
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050, 4GB GDDR5
  • 16GB DDR4 RAM
  • 17.3″ Full HD 60Hz 72% NTSC Display (1920x 1080)

During installation I had to use the NIC, at least it was detected by Debian during installation. As per usual the WLAN card was not detected. First things first, lets get the WLAN card working so we can get off of our NIC. We are going to get a list of the pci devices in the laptop with the lspci command.

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This is the line we are concerned with currently.

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Head over to Debian iwlwifi for wireless drivers and download the driver for the Wireless-AC 9560. First add to the /etc/apt/sources.list

deb http://httpredir.debian.org/debian/ buster main contrib non-free

Then update apt and install iwlwifi.

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Now insert the module.

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This should place the necessary firmware in the right location for Debian to recognize your card, now reboot with a sudo init 6

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Your wifi and bluetooth should now work correctly, lets move on to the video card.

Nvidia Optimus

First let us install lshw so we can see what is going on with the video cards.

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*-display                 
       description: VGA compatible controller
       product: Intel Corporation
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 2
       bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
       version: 00
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pciexpress msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=i915 latency=0
       resources: irq:128 memory:b2000000-b2ffffff memory:90000000-9fffffff ioport:5000(size=64) memory:c0000-dffff
  *-display
       description: 3D controller
       product: NVIDIA Corporation
       vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
       physical id: 0
       bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
       version: a1
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=nouveau latency=0
       resources: irq:129 memory:b3000000-b3ffffff memory:a0000000-afffffff memory:b0000000-b1ffffff ioport:4000(size=128) memory:b4000000-b407ffff

Notice the discreet controller is using nouveau, this is going to slow things down. Yes it works, but very slow. Fixing it is a lot easier than I had thought.

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Add user to the bumblebee group, replace with your user name.

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We also need to set bumblebee to auto start on boot.

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Be sure to reboot, init 6.

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Now run lshw again, we are working!

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*-display                 
       description: VGA compatible controller
       product: Intel Corporation
       vendor: Intel Corporation
       physical id: 2
       bus info: pci@0000:00:02.0
       version: 00
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pciexpress msi pm vga_controller bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=i915 latency=0
       resources: irq:128 memory:b2000000-b2ffffff memory:90000000-9fffffff ioport:5000(size=64) memory:c0000-dffff
  *-display
       description: 3D controller
       product: NVIDIA Corporation
       vendor: NVIDIA Corporation
       physical id: 0
       bus info: pci@0000:02:00.0
       version: a1
       width: 64 bits
       clock: 33MHz
       capabilities: pm msi pciexpress bus_master cap_list rom
       configuration: driver=nvidia latency=0
       resources: irq:142 memory:b3000000-b3ffffff memory:a0000000-afffffff memory:b0000000-b1ffffff ioport:4000(size=128) memory:b4000000-b407ffff

Notice it now longer says nouveau! Now for a real world test. Let’s install mesa-utils.

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— IN PROGRESS —

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