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intel is the open source graphics driver for Intel GMA on-board graphics cards, starting with the Intel 810.

Hardware detection

To choose the right driver, first detect the graphics card. lspci can be used for this task:

root #lspci | grep -i VGA

This should show something like this:

root #lspci | grep -i VGA
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 3rd Gen Core processor Graphics Controller (rev 09)
The lspci output for the graphics controller may refer to CPU generations, whereas the Feature support table below refers to GPU generations. E.g., “3rd Gen” in the example lspci output above corresponds to “Gen7” in the table below.

Feature support

Generation Chipset OpenGL OpenGL ES OpenCL VAAPI Vulkan VIDEO_CARDS
Gen 1 810, 815 No No No No No unsupported
Gen 2 i830M, 845G, 855GM, 865G 1.3 No No No No intel i915
Gen 3 915G/GM, 945G/GM, G/Q33, Atom D4xx/D5xx/N4xx/N5xx 1.4 No No No No intel i915
Gen 4 965G/GM/Q, G/Q35, G41, G/Q43, G/GM/Q45 2.1 2.0 No G/GM45: MPEG2 only No intel i965
Gen 5 Nehalem (Ironlake) 2.1 2.0 No Yes No intel i965
Gen 6 Sandy Bridge 3.3 3.0 No Yes No intel i965
Gen 7 Ivy Bridge, Valley View, Atom Z36xx/Z37xx 3.3 3.0 1.1[table 1] Yes Partial intel i965
Gen 7.5 Haswell 4.5 3.1 1.1[table 1] Yes Partial intel i965
Gen 8 Broadwell, Cherryview (Braswell, Cherry Trail) 4.5 3.1 1.1[table 1] Yes Yes intel i965
Gen 9 Skylake, Kaby Lake, Apollo Lake 4.5 3.2 1.1[table 1] Yes Yes intel i965
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Uses the dev-libs/beignet package (Upstream info)

A full list of Intel CPU graphic capabilities can be found here.



If you are using Kabylake, Skylake or Broxton Intel Graphics, install sys-kernel/linux-firmware.

root #emerge --ask sys-kernel/linux-firmware

Otherwise you might see errors such as

kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: Direct firmware load for i915/skl_dmc_ver1_26.bin failed with error -2
kernel: i915 0000:00:02.0: Failed to load DMC firmware [], disabling runtime power management.

in dmesg. Include the files required for your GPU in the kernel, in this case:

Device Drivers  --->
    Generic Driver Options  --->
        -*- Userspace firmware loading support
        [*] Include in-kernel firmware blobs in kernel binary
            (/lib/firmware) Firmware blobs root directory

It’s possible to add GuC firmware too, but there are problems with it, so it won’t be loaded by default (passing additional parameters is needed). It’s actual for kernel 4.8.7 at least.

Please note that firmware file name should match one from MODULE_FIRMWARE in the source tree. Now it’s i915/skl_dmc_ver1_26.bin (not i915/skl_dmc_ver1.bin) for DMC firmware. To check this for GuC and DMC firmwares you can type the following command within linux source tree:

user $grep -B 1 'MODULE_FIRMWARE.*SKL' drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_guc_loader.c drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_csr.c
drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_guc_loader.c-#define I915_SKL_GUC_UCODE "i915/skl_guc_ver6_1.bin"
drivers/gpu/drm/i915/intel_csr.c-#define I915_CSR_SKL "i915/skl_dmc_ver1_26.bin"


The following kernel options need to be activated:

KERNEL Prior to linux-4.4
Processor type and features  --->
    [*] MTRR (Memory Type Range Register) support
Device Drivers  --->
    Graphics support  --->
        <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support)  --->
             <*> Intel 440LX/BX/GX, I8xx and E7x05 chipset support
        <*> Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support) --->
            <*> Intel 8xx/9xx/G3x/G4x/HD Graphics
            [*]   Enable modesetting on intel by default
            [*]   Enable legacy fbdev support for the modesetting intel driver

The legacy fbdev support is required since kernel 3.14.14 at least for i915 (CONFIG_DRM_I915_FBDEV=y).[1][2] For hybrid Intel/AMD system, follow also the steps of radeon (opensource) or fglrx (closed binary) drivers.

Since kernel version 4.4 the driver has been moved and the legacy fbdev support is now CONFIG_DRM_FBDEV_EMULATION=y.

KERNEL linux-4.4
        Device Drivers  --->
            Graphics support  --->
                <*> /dev/agpgart (AGP Support)  --->
                    --- /dev/agpgart (AGP Support)
                    < >   AMD Opteron/Athlon64 on-CPU GART support
                    -*-   Intel 440LX/BX/GX, I8xx and E7x05 chipset support
                    < >   SiS chipset support
                    < >   VIA chipset support
                [ ] VGA Arbitration
                [ ] Laptop Hybrid Graphics - GPU switching support
                <*> Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support)  --->
                    --- Direct Rendering Manager (XFree86 4.1.0 and higher DRI support)
                    [*]   Enable legacy fbdev support for your modesetting driver
                [ ] Allow to specify an EDID data set instead of probing for it
                    I2C encoder or helper chips  --->
                < > 3dfx Banshee/Voodoo3+
                < > ATI Rage 128
                < > ATI Radeon
                < > AMD GPU
                < > Nouveau (NVIDIA) cards
                < > Intel I810
                <*> Intel 8xx/9xx/G3x/G4x/HD Graphics
                [ ]   Enable preliminary support for prerelease Intel hardware by default
                < > Matrox g200/g400
                < > SiS video cards
                < > Via unichrome video cards
                < > Savage video cards
                < > Virtual GEM provider
                < > DRM driver for VMware Virtual GPU
                < > Intel GMA5/600 KMS Framebuffer
                < > DisplayLink
                < > AST server chips
                < > Kernel modesetting driver for MGA G200 server engines
                < > Cirrus driver for QEMU emulated device
                < > QXL virtual GPU
                < > DRM Support for bochs dispi vga interface (qemu stdvga)
                    Display Panels  ----                 
                    Display Interface Bridges  ----
                    Frame buffer Devices  --->
                -*- Backlight & LCD device support  --->
                    Console display driver support  --->
                [*] Bootup logo  --->    


Portage uses the VIDEO_CARDS variable, which expands into the USE_EXPAND variable, for enabling support for various graphics cards. Assuming the x11-base/xorg-drivers package has already been installed, setting the VIDEO_CARDS variable in /etc/portage/make.conf will pull in the correct video driver:

FILE /etc/portage/make.confGen 2 and Gen 3
VIDEO_CARDS="intel i915"
FILE /etc/portage/make.confGen 4 through Gen 9
VIDEO_CARDS="intel i965"

The intel value is for x11-base/xorg-drivers. The i915 and i965 values are for media-libs/mesa.

Beginning with x11-base/xorg-drivers-1.19, the x11-base/xorg-drivers package (in addition to the mesa package) includes support the i965 USE flag. This will omit selection of the deprecating x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel driver in favor of the more maintained, generic modesetting DDX driver built-in to x11-base/xorg-server.

After making any make.conf modifications, update the system so the changes take effect using by passing the --changed-use --deep options to emerge:

root #emerge --ask --changed-use --deep @world

Those wishing to not accept the Intel graphic driver defaults in the main repository can read on into the sub-sections below.

Intel DDX

Before proceeding with the Intel DDX driver, note that this driver has been slowly deprecating for around two years. This has caused other major[3][4] Linux distributions to begin to move toward the modesetting DDX driver (detailed in the section below). Although presently faster than modesetting driver, there has been no official package release from Intel upstream for their DDX driver for quite some time[5], and is therefore causing a maintenance burden on Gentoo's X11 package maintainers.

With this being stated, the Intel DDX driver has slight speed advantages over the generic modesetting driver as it is able to more closely interact with hardware acceleration present in chips utilizing SNA and DRI3.

USE flags

Check the USE flags of x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel:

USE flags for x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel X.Org driver for Intel cards

debug Enable extra debug codepaths, like asserts and extra output. If you want to get meaningful backtraces see global
dri Enable direct rendering: used for accelerated 3D and some 2D, like DMA global
dri3 Use DRI3 by default local
sna Enable SandyBridge's New Acceleration (useful on all chipsets, not just SandyBridge) local
tools Build the intel-virtual-output tool local
udev Enable virtual/udev integration (device discovery, power and storage device support, etc) global
uxa Enable UMA Acceleration Architecture local
xvmc Enables X-Video Motion Compensation support local

root #emerge --ask x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel

To force Xorg server to use the Intel DDX driver with SNA for hardware accelleration, the following file can be created in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/:

FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.confForce Intel DDX
Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Intel Graphics"
    Driver      "intel"
    Option      "AccelMethod"    "sna"

Modesetting DDX

As mentioned above, the modesetting DDX driver is now the default driver on newer Intel graphics chipsets for Gentoo. This driver uses GLAMOR to accelerate 2D graphical over Mesa (the open source OpenGL implementation). As of x11-base/xorg-drivers-1.19, this has become the default for Gentoo.

To force the modesetting driver, first make sure glamor has been added to the USE variable:

FILE /etc/portage/make.confEnable glamor globally
VIDEO_CARDS="intel i965"
root #emerge --ask --changed-use --deep @world

Now force Xorg server to load the modesetting driver:

FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-modesetting.confForce modesetting DDX
Section "Device"
    Identifier  "Intel Graphics"
    Driver      "modesetting"
    Option      "AccelMethod"    "glamor"
    Option      "DRI"            "3"

Note, if both 20-intel.conf and 20-modesetting.conf are defined in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/, the X server will attempt to load the files in alpha-numeric order.


Intel GMA X4500HD / G45 / GM45 and newer supports VAAPI hardware video acceleration.


As of November 15th, 2016[6] Vulkan is supported in the main repository for Intel core processors using the i965 mesa driver.

Please note, that this will build a working Vulkan driver, but it will not provide a, but a drivers-specific The package media-libs/vulkan-loader provides



If the acl USE flag is enabled globally and ConsoleKit is being used (default for desktop profiles) permissions to video cards will be handled automatically. It is possible to check the permissions using getfacl:

user $getfacl /dev/dri/card0 | grep larry

A broader solution is to add the user(s) needing access the video card to the video group:

root #gpasswd -a larry video

Note that users will be able to run X without permission to the DRI subsystem, but acceleration will be disabled.


Choose one of the following configuration options:

As xorg is not aware of i915 or i965 they will need to be addressed as Driver intel.
FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/intel.confExplicit intel driver section
 Section "Device"
   Identifier  "intel"
   Driver      "intel"
  • Alternate Driver for Gen 4+ -- Modesetting
Experiences of this configuration can be found in the Discussion of this page. Add any difficulties there so this section can be improved.
As of xorg-server-1.17, the modesetting driver was moved into x11-base/xorg-server. This driver has more features than the classic driver, such as GLAMOR.
This configuration is the default for VIDEO_CARDS="intel i965" beginning with x11-base/xorg-drivers-1.19. If you wish to use the classic driver, you will need to install x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel manually:
root #emerge --ask x11-drivers/xf86-video-intel
xorg-server is easily configured to prefer modesetting over the older intel driver.
FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/modesetting.confExplicit modesetting driver section
 Section "Device"
   Identifier  "modesetting"
   Driver      "modesetting"

The X server is designed to work out-of-the-box, with no need to manually edit X.Org's configuration files. It should detect and configure devices such as displays, keyboards, and mice.

However, the main configuration file of the X server is the xorg.conf.



If your GPU hangs up when watching VAAPI-accelerated video e.g. on YouTube, you can try enabling your IOMMU:

Device Drivers  --->
    [*] IOMMU Hardware Support --->
        [*] Support for Intel IOMMU using DMA Remapping Devices
        [*]   Enable Intel DMA Remapping Devices by default

Related upstream bug report.

KDM freezes

A workaround is to set TerminateServer=true in all sections of the file /usr/share/config/kdm/kdmrc, which starts with X-.

KDE's plasma eating CPU

If /usr/bin/plasmashell is always consuming several percent of CPU, perhaps this is related to a vsync problem. QT Quick Animation seem to loop too fast when vsync is not managed by the driver (Reference)

A way to enable vsync with SNA is to enable "TearFree" Option in xorg.conf

FILE /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf
Section "Device"
        Identifier "Device0"
        Driver "intel"

        Option      "AccelMethod" "SNA"
        Option      "TearFree"    "true"

thanks to mint doc

Black screen

  • According to this Debian wiki, CONFIG_FRAMEBUFFER_CONSOLE must be set to y (aka built-in to the kernel). Otherwise, it is possible to always have a black screen unless nomodeset is passed to the kernel, thus disabling kernel mode setting (KMS). acpi_osi="Linux" can be passed to the kernel command line to try to solve this kind of issue. This is usually done through the bootloader.
  • Kernel with version 4.2 or newer is needed with some gen8 chipsets[7].

Brightness does not change with keyboard shortcuts

First, make sure vendor compatibility is on in the kernel configuration. Toshiba for Toshiba, etc.

If it is, or when the brightness buttons are working, the issue is that the kernel can not detect where the brightness control is located.

Luckily, this is easy enough to modify, as long as the kernel version is >= 3.13.x and < 4.2.

Add the following argument to the kernel command-line:

CODE Kernel command-line argument

On kernels >= 4.2, the video.use_native_backlight option is no longer available.[8] You should use one of the following instead (experiment to see which works on your system):

CODE Kernel command-line argument
CODE Kernel command-line argument
CODE Kernel command-line argument

Do your key bindings map to actions viewable in xev? Can you adjust the screen brightness using xbacklight, then you can always do a work around via a keyboard remapping. For LXDE it can be done via

FILE ~/.config/openbox/lxde-rc.xml
<keybind key="XF86MonBrightnessUp">
      <action name="Execute">
          <command>xbacklight +5</command>
<keybind key="XF86MonBrightnessDown">
      <action name="Execute">
          <command>xbacklight -5</command>

Also, with Modesetting DDX, the x11-apps/xbacklight package will not work. Please use sys-power/acpilight for a compatible interface.

See also

  • Xorg/Guide - A guide on how to configure Xorg.
  • hprofile - Switching between other graphics drivers and intel.

External resources