Running Linux on Nvidia laptops (ASUS S15 X530/S530)

ASUS has consistently put out great mid-range priced laptops for many years. As a Linux enthusiast and cheap bastard of a software engineer, I decided I was going to get an ASUS S15 S530 with mid range specs to use as my mobile workstation.

The machine came pre-installed with Endless OS , so I was relatively certain that most components would have no compatibility issues.

All in all I’m very satisfied with the end result. Bellow are some tips to help anyone who wants to use Linux with this great little machine.

My specs:

CPU: i5-8256U
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce MX150 - 2GB
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD
Linux distribution: Pop!_OS 19.04

1. Disable Secure Boot

Secure Boot is meant to protect your system from running malicious code. That is great and all, but sometimes it may cause issues booting legitimate Linux distributions.

Make sure you download your Linux installation image from reputable sources linked in the official distribution’s website. Linux Mint has a good resource on how to do it. Another good resource can be found here.

Once you are sure your installation disk/USB is legitimate, you can disable this option if you are having trouble booting into the installation disk.

2. Turn on SATA AHCI

My system has both SSD and HDD, but at first the SSD was not showing at all - even in the pre-installed Endless OS…

If you run into similar issues, consider the following steps:

  1. Boot into BIOS (restart your computer, press ESC during the startup screen, select Enter Setup)
  2. Navigate to Advanced
  3. Select SATA Configuration and press enter
  4. Under SATA Mode Selection press enter and select AHCI
  5. Navigate to Save & Exit and confirm Save configuration and exit when prompted
  6. Restart your system

Your SSD should now be available to tools like disks or gparted.

3. Easiest distros to work with Nvidia

I have used quite a few Linux distributions in my ASUS s15, and have found that Linux Mint and Endless OS were the easiest to install and worked flawlessly.

Both Pop!_OS and Manjaro had issues where the installation USB would almost never  boot. This was all resolved after updating the BIOS though.

4. Turn off Nvidia if not needed

ASUS s15 comes with only one heat sink. If you are not doing something that requires the graphics card, the Nvidia drivers give you the option to use Intel’s Integrated Graphics.

Every Linux distro places this functionality in a slightly different place. In Pop!_OS that functionality can be found here.

In Linux Mint you can change that setting by right clicking in Nvidia/Intel icon near the clock in the right side of your task bar.

5. Update BIOS (if necessary)

As mentioned above, I had issues with some distributions’ installation USB not booting. Although updating the BIOS did solve those issues for me, you should research and try all other options before doing that.

Flashing your BIOS risks breaking your system. Also, if it does not solve your booting problem, it can sometimes be difficult to rollback or downgrade the changes.

Disclaimer: Flashing your BIOS has risks and can break your system. The steps bellow come with no warranty whatsoever. DO IT AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Once you have tried everything suggested by the communities of your specific Linux distribution, bellow are the steps I followed in order to update my BIOS.

  1. Search on google for asus s15 s530 support. Replace s530 with your relevant model: x530, s510 etc.
  2. Open the result from the official Asus website.
  3. Under BIOS & FIRMWARE download the newest option. At the time of this writing 305 is the newest version
  4. Extract the downloaded .zip and save the lone file to any FAT32 USB drive (file is called X530FNAS.305 in my case)
  5. Plug the USB drive in your Asus laptop
  6. Boot into BIOS (restart your computer, press ESC during the startup screen, select Enter Setup)
  7. Navigate to Advanced, select ASUS EZ Flash 3 Utility and press enter
  8. Select the USB drive with arrow up/down (in my case the drive is FS0)
  9. Navigate to the file X530FNAS.305 and press enter
  10. Double check Current BIOS and New BIOS to make sure you have selected the correct file and confirm.
  11. Do not interrupt the updated process. Power outages or any other interruptions may completely break your motherboard.

After updating your BIOS you should have no issues booting most of Linux distro’s installation USB’s.

If for whatever reason you continue to run into issues, consider giving Pop!_OS a try as they have an installation media specifically crafted to include nvidia drivers.

6. Compatibility

  1. Intel microcode had issues with some kernels while using Linux Mint. Changing the kernel is easy and solved it.
  2. Manjaro was the only distro where the fn + esc lock worked out of the box.
  3. Pop!_os and Manjaro were the only ones that could use fn + f7 for toggling keyboard brightness
  4. Mint allows you to control keyboard brightness in the system tray. For some reason, maximum brightness couldn’t be reached out of the box: maximum level was 2 instead of 3.
  5. I only attempted to setup the fingerprint reader on Linux Mint. It was unsuccessful. At the time of this writing it seems like the driver is still not available. Source.


I’m very satisfied with the performance of Asus s15 under Linux. Apart from the fingerprint reader, all distros had great compatibility with the Asus s15 hardware.

Difficulties installing Linux may arise if your BIOS is outdated. Updating it is not hard, but should be done at your own risk.

Performance was comparable in all distros, and I overall opted for Pop!_OS.