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From Bumblebee's FAQ:

"Bumblebee is an effort to make NVIDIA Optimus enabled laptops work in GNU/Linux systems. Such feature involves two graphics cards with two different power consumption profiles plugged in a layered way sharing a single framebuffer."

Bumblebee: Optimus for Linux

Optimus Technology is an hybrid graphics implementation without a hardware multiplexer. The integrated GPU manages the display while the dedicated GPU manages the most demanding rendering and ships the work to the integrated GPU to be displayed. When the laptop is running on battery supply, the dedicated GPU is turned off to save power and prolong the battery life. It has also been tested successfully with desktop machines with Intel integrated graphics and an nVidia dedicated graphics card.

Bumblebee is a software implementation comprising of two parts:

  • Render programs off-screen on the dedicated video card and display it on the screen using the integrated video card. This bridge is provided by VirtualGL or primus (read further) and connects to a X server started for the discrete video card.
  • Disable the dedicated video card when it is not in use (see the Power management section)

It tries to mimic the Optimus technology behavior; using the dedicated GPU for rendering when needed and power it down when not in use. The present releases only support rendering on-demand, automatically starting a program with the discrete video card based on workload is not implemented.


Before installing Bumblebee, check your BIOS and activate Optimus (older laptops call it "switchable graphics") if possible (BIOS doesn't have to provide this option) and install the Intel driver for the secondary on board graphics card.

Don't need to install any packages listed below. They are already shipped in the distribution just check their presence)
  • bumblebee - The main package providing the daemon and client programs.
  • bbswitch - Disables NVIDIA discrete graphics card when it is not used (already present in your system, kernel dependent).
  • primus - A render/display bridge. Only one of them is necessary, but installing both of them side-by-side is alright.
  • virtualgl - Test program glxspheres and glxgears.

Installing Bumblebee with Intel/NVIDIA


Check if the nouveau driver is blacklisted in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:

blacklist nouveau

and be sure that nvidia is not blacklisted

Installing Bumblebee with Intel/Nouveau

This method is deprecated and will most likely not work anymore. Use the nvidia module instead. If you want nouveau, use PRIME.


  • nouveau - experimental 3D acceleration driver.

Blacklist the nvidia driver in /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist.conf:

blacklist nvidia

and be sure that nouveau is not blacklisted



Test Bumblebee if it works with your Optimus system:

$ optirun glxgears -info

If it fails, try the following commands:

$ optirun glxspheres

If the window with animation shows up - Optimus with Bumblebee is working.

General usage

$ optirun [options] application [application-parameters]

For example, start Windows applications with Optimus:

$ optirun wine application.exe

For another example, open NVIDIA Settings panel with Optimus:

$ optirun -b none nvidia-settings -c :8

For a list of the options for optirun, view its manual page:

$ man optirun


You can configure the behaviour of Bumblebee to fit your needs. Fine tuning like speed optimization, power management and other stuff can be configured in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf

Optimizing speed

Using VirtualGL as bridge

Bumblebee renders frames for your Optimus NVIDIA card in an invisible X Server with VirtualGL and transports them back to your visible X Server. Frames will be compressed before they are transported - this saves bandwidth and can be used for speed-up optimization of bumblebee:

To use an other compression method for a single application:

$ optirun -c compress-method application

The method of compress will affect performance in the GPU/CPU usage. Compressed methods will mostly load the CPU. However, uncompressed methods will mostly load the GPU.

Compressed methods

  • jpeg
  • rgb
  • yuv

Uncompressed methods

  • proxy
  • xv

Here is a performance table tested with Asus N550JV laptop:

Command FPS Score Min FPS Max FPS
optirun unigine-heaven 25.0 630 16.4 36.1
optirun -c jpeg unigine-heaven 24.2 610 9.5 36.8
optirun -c rgb unigine-heaven 25.1 632 16.6 35.5
optirun -c yuv unigine-heaven 24.9 626 16.5 35.8
optirun -c proxy unigine-heaven 25.0 629 16.0 36.1
optirun -c xv unigine-heaven 22.9 577 15.4 32.2
Lag spikes occurred when jpeg compression method was used.

To use a standard compression for all applications, set the VGLTransport to compress-method in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf:


You can also play with the way VirtualGL reads back the pixels from your graphic card. Setting VGL_READBACK environment variable to pbo should increase the performance. Compare these two:

# PBO should be faster.
VGL_READBACK=pbo optirun glxgears
# The default value is sync.
VGL_READBACK=sync optirun glxgears
CPU frequency scaling will affect directly on render performance


primusrun (package primus) is becoming the default choice, because it is power consuming and provides a better performance than optirun. Currently you need to run this program separately (it does not accept options unlike optirun), but in the future it will be started by optirun.


$ primusrun glxgears
Tip: Refer to #Primusrun_mouse_delay.2Fdisable_VSYNC if you want to disable VSYNC. It can also remove mouse input delay lag and slightly increase the performance.

Power management

The goal of power management feature is to turn off the NVIDIA card when it is not used by bumblebee any more. If bbswitch is installed, it will be detected automatically when the Bumblebee daemon starts. No additional configuration is necessary.

Default power state of NVIDIA card using bbswitch

The default behavior of bbswitch is to leave the card power state unchanged. bumblebeed does disable the card when started, so the following is only necessary if you use bbswitch without bumblebeed.

Set load_state and unload_state module options according to your needs (see bbswitch documentation).

options bbswitch load_state=0 unload_state=1

Enable NVIDIA card during shutdown

The NVIDIA card may not correctly initialize during boot if the card was powered off when the system was last shutdown. One option is to set TurnCardOffAtExit=false in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf, however this will enable the card everytime you stop the Bumblebee daemon, even if done manually. To ensure that the NVIDIA card is always powered on during shutdown, add the following En:HOWTO:_systemd service (if using bbswitch):

Description=Enable NVIDIA card

ExecStart=/bin/sh -c 'echo ON > /proc/acpi/bbswitch'


Then enable the service by running systemctl enable nvidia-enable.service at the root prompt.

Multiple monitors

Outputs wired to the Intel chip

If the port (DisplayPort/HDMI/VGA) is wired to the Intel chip, you can set up multiple monitors with xorg.conf. Set them to use the Intel card, but Bumblebee can still use the NVIDIA card. One example configuration is below for two identical screens with 1080p resolution and using the HDMI out.

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen0"
    Device         "intelgpu0"
    Monitor        "Monitor0"
    DefaultDepth    24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth          24
        Modes          "1980x1080_60.00"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen1"
    Device         "intelgpu1"
    Monitor        "Monitor1"
    DefaultDepth   24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth          24
        Modes          "1980x1080_60.00"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor0"
    Option         "Enable" "true"

Section "Monitor"
    Identifier     "Monitor1"
    Option         "Enable" "true"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "intelgpu0"
    Driver         "intel"
    Option         "XvMC" "true"
    Option         "UseEvents" "true"
    Option         "AccelMethod" "UXA"
    BusID          "PCI:0:2:0"

Section "Device"
    Identifier     "intelgpu1"
    Driver         "intel"
    Option         "XvMC" "true"
    Option         "UseEvents" "true"
    Option         "AccelMethod" "UXA"
    BusID          "PCI:0:2:0"

Section "Device"
    Identifier "nvidiagpu1"
    Driver "nvidia"
    BusID "PCI:0:1:0"

You need to probably change the BusID for both the Intel and the NVIDIA card.

$ lspci | grep VGA
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 2nd Generation Core Processor Family Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 09)

The BusID is 0:2:0

Output wired to the NVIDIA chip

On some notebooks, the digital Video Output (HDMI or DisplayPort) is hardwired to the NVIDIA chip. If you want to use all the displays on such a system simultaniously, you have to run 2 X Servers. The first will be using the Intel driver for the notebooks panel and a display connected on VGA. The second will be started through optirun on the NVIDIA card, and drives the digital display.

There are currently several instructions on the web how such a setup can be made to work. One can be found on the bumblebee wiki page. Another approach is described below.

Using intel-virtual-output

This method should obsolete the use of xf86-video-intel-virtual-crtc and hybrid-screenclone. intel-virtual-output is a tool provided in the xf86-video-intel driver set, as of v2.99. When run in a terminal, it will daemonize itself unless the -f switch is used. Once the tool is running, it activates Bumblebee (Bumblebee can be left as default install), and any displays attached will be automatically detected, and manageable via any desktop display manager such as xrandr or KDE Display.

In /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia change the lines UseEDID and Option "AutoAddDevices" "false" to "true", if you are having trouble with device resolution detection.

Commandline usage is as follows:

intel-virtual-output [OPTION]... [TARGET_DISPLAY]...
 -d <source display>  source display
 -f                   keep in foreground (do not detach from console and daemonize)
 -b                   start bumblebee
 -a                   connect to all local displays (e.g. :1, :2, etc)
 -S                   disable use of a singleton and launch a fresh intel-virtual-output process
 -v                   all verbose output, implies -f
 -V <category>        specific verbose output, implies -f
 -h                   this help

If no target displays are parsed on the commandline, intel-virtual-output will attempt to connect to any local display and then start bumblebee.[1]

The advantage of using intel-virtual-output in foreground mode is that once the external display is disconected, intel-virtual-output can then be killed and bumblebee will disable the nvidia chip. Games can be run on the external screen by first exporting the display export DISPLAY=:8, and then running the game with optirun game_bin, however, cursor and keyboard are not fully captured. Use export DISPLAY=:0 to revert back to standard operation.

CUDA without Bumblebee

You can use CUDA without bumblebee. All you need to do is ensure that the nvidia card is on:

 # tee /proc/acpi/bbswitch <<< ON

Now when you start a CUDA application it is going to automatically load all the necessary modules.

To turn off the nvidia card after using CUDA do:

 # rmmod nvidia_uvm
 # rmmod nvidia
 # tee /proc/acpi/bbswitch <<< OFF


Please report bugs at Bumblebee-Project's GitHub tracker as described in its wiki.

[VGL] ERROR: Could not open display :8

There is a known problem with some wine applications that fork and kill the parent process without keeping track of it (for example the free to play online game "Runes of Magic")

This is a known problem with VirtualGL. As of bumblebee 3.1, so long as you have it installed, you can use Primus as your render bridge:

$ optirun -b primus wine windows program.exe

If this does not work, an alternative walkaround for this problem is:

$ optirun bash
$ optirun wine windows program.exe

If using NVIDIA drivers a fix for this problem is to edit /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia and change Option ConnectedMonitor to CRT-0.

[ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU: No devices detected

In some instances, running optirun will return:

[ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) No devices detected.
[ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.

In this case, you will need to move the file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf to somewhere else, restart the bumblebeed daemon and it should work. If you do need to change some features for the Intel module, a workaround is to merge /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/20-intel.conf to /etc/X11/xorg.conf.

It could be also necessary to comment the driver line in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d/10-monitor.conf.

If you're using the nouveau driver you could try switching to the nvidia driver.

You might need to define the NVIDIA card somewhere (e.g. file /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d), using the correct BusID according to lspci output:

Section "Device"
    Identifier "nvidiagpu1"
    Driver "nvidia"
    BusID "PCI:0:1:0"

NVIDIA(0): Failed to assign any connected display devices to X screen 0

If the console output is:

[ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) NVIDIA(0): Failed to assign any connected display devices to X screen 0
[ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.

You can change this line in /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia:

Option "ConnectedMonitor" "DFP"


Option "ConnectedMonitor" "CRT"

Failed to initialize the NVIDIA GPU at PCI:1:0:0 (GPU fallen off the bus / RmInitAdapter failed!)

Add rcutree.rcu_idle_gp_delay=1 to the kernel parameters of the bootloader configuration (see also the Archlinux original BBS post for a configuration example).

Could not load GPU driver

If the console output is:

[ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: Could not load GPU driver

and if you try to load the nvidia module you get:

modprobe nvidia
modprobe: ERROR: could not insert 'nvidia': Exec format error

You should check if you have the kernel module installed correctly.

NOUVEAU(0): [drm] failed to set drm interface version

Consider switching to the official nvidia driver. As commented here, nouveau driver has some issues with some cards and bumblebee.

/dev/dri/card0: failed to set DRM interface version 1.4: Permission denied

This could be worked around by appending following lines in /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia (see here):

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Default Screen"
    Device "DiscreteNvidia"

ERROR: ld.so: object 'libdlfaker.so' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored

You probably want to start a 32-bit application with bumblebee on a 64-bit system. See the "Note" box in Installation.

Fatal IO error 11 (Resource temporarily unavailable) on X server

Change KeepUnusedXServer in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf from false to true. Your program forks into background and bumblebee don't know anything about it.

Video tearing

Video tearing is a somewhat common problem on Bumblebee. To fix it, you need to enable vsync. It should be enabled by default on the Intel card, but verify that from Xorg logs. To check whether or not it is enabled for NVIDIA, run:

$ optirun nvidia-settings -c :8

X Server XVideo Settings -> Sync to VBlank and OpenGL Settings -> Sync to VBlank should both be enabled. The Intel card has in general less tearing, so use it for video playback. Especially use VA-API for video decoding (e.g. mplayer-vaapi and with -vsync parameter).

Refer to the Intel article on how to fix tearing on the Intel card.

If it is still not fixed, try to disable compositing from your desktop environment. Try also disabling triple buffering.

Bumblebee cannot connect to socket

You might get something like:

$ optirun glxspheres
$ optirun glxspheres
[ 1648.179533] [ERROR]You've no permission to communicate with the Bumblebee daemon. Try adding yourself to the 'bumblebee' group
[ 1648.179628] [ERROR]Could not connect to bumblebee daemon - is it running?

If you are already in the bumblebee group ($ groups | grep bumblebee), you may try removing the socket /var/run/bumblebeed.socket.

Primusrun mouse delay/disable VSYNC

For primusrun, VSYNC is enabled by default and as a result, it could make mouse input delay lag or even slightly decrease performance. Test primusrun without VSYNC:

$ vblank_mode=0 primusrun glxgears

If you want to use it instead of primusrun, create new file:

vblank_mode=0 primusrun "[email protected]"

Make it executable:

# chmod +x /usr/bin/optiprime


$ optiprime glxgears

In conclusion, it doesn't make significant performance improvement, but as mentioned above, it should remove mouse input delay lag.

Command FPS Score Min FPS Max FPS
optiprime unigine-heaven 31.5 793 22.3 54.8
primusrun unigine-heaven 31.4 792 18.7 54.2

Tested with Asus N550JV laptop.

See also

Join bumblebee devs at #bumblebee at freenode.net.