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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 a 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 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). If neither "Optimus" or "switchable" is in the bios, still make sure both gpu's will be enabled and that the integrated graphics (igfx) is initial display (primary display). The display should be connected to the onboard integrated graphics, not the discrete graphics card. If integrated graphics had previously been disabled and discrete graphics drivers installed, be sure to remove /etc/X11/xorg.conf or the conf file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf.d related to the discrete graphics card.

Installing Bumblebee with Intel/NVIDIA


For 32-bit (Multilib must be enabled) applications support on 64-bit machines, install:

In order to use Bumblebee, it is necessary to add your regular user to the bumblebee group:

# gpasswd -a user bumblebee

Also enable bumblebeed.service. Reboot your system and follow #Usage.

Installing Bumblebee with Intel/Nouveau

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


  • xf86-video-nouveau - experimental 3D acceleration driver.
  • mesa - Mesa classic DRI with Gallium3D drivers and 3D graphics libraries.
Note: If, when using primusrun on a system with the nouveau driver, you are getting:
primus: fatal: failed to load any of the libraries: /usr/$LIB/nvidia/libGL.so.1 
/usr/$LIB/nvidia/libGL.so.1: Cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

You should add the following in /usr/bin/primus after PRIMUS_libGL:

export PRIMUS_libGLa='/usr/$LIB/libGL.so.1'
If you want, create a new script (for example primusnouveau).



Install mesa-demos and use glxgears to test if if Bumblebee works with your Optimus system:

$ optirun glxgears -info

If it fails, try the following commands:

  • 64 bit system:
$ optirun glxspheres64
  • 32 bit system:
$ optirun glxspheres32

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

Note: If glxgears failed, but glxspheresXX worked, always replace "glxgears" with "glxspheresXX" in all cases.

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
Note: A patched version of nvdock is available in the package nvdock-bumblebeeAUR

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 another 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 and benchmark app unigine-heavenAUR:

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
Note: 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
Note: CPU frequency scaling will affect directly on render performance


Note: Since compositing hurts performance, invoking primus when a compositing WM is active is not recommended. See #Primus issues under compositing window managers.

primusrun (from package primus) is becoming the default choice, because it consumes less power and sometimes provides better performance than optirun/virtualgl. It may be run separately, but it does not accept options as optirun does. Setting primus as the bridge for optirun provides more flexibility.

For 32-bit applications support on 64-bit machines, install lib32-primus (multilib must be enabled).

Usage (run separately):

$ primusrun glxgears

Usage (as a bridge for optirun):

The default configuration sets virtualgl as the bridge. Override that on the command line:

$ optirun -b primus glxgears

Or, set Bridge=primus in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf and you won't have to specify it on the command line.

Tip: Refer to #Primusrun mouse delay (disable 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 the power management feature is to turn off the NVIDIA card when it is not used by Bumblebee any more. If bbswitch (or bbswitch-dkms) is installed, it will be detected automatically when the Bumblebee daemon starts. No additional configuration is necessary. However, bbswitch is for Optimus laptops only and will not work on desktop computers. So, Bumblebee power management is not available for desktop computers, and there is no reason to install bbswitch on a desktop. (Nevertheless, the other features of Bumblebee do work on some desktop computers.)

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

On some laptops, the NVIDIA card may not correctly initialize during boot if the card was powered off when the system was last shutdown. Therefore the Bumblebee daemon will power on the GPU when stopping the daemon (e.g. on shutdown) due to the (default) setting TurnCardOffAtExit=false in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf. Note that this setting does not influence power state while the daemon is running, so if all optirun or primusrun programs have exited, the GPU will still be powered off.

When you stop the daemon manually, you might want to keep the card powered off while still powering it on on shutdown. To achieve the latter, add the following systemd service (if using bbswitch):

Description=Enable NVIDIA card

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


Then enable the nvidia-enable.service unit.

Enable NVIDIA card after waking from suspend

The bumblebee daemon may fail to activate the graphics card after suspending. A possible fix involves setting bbswitch as the default method for power management in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf:


# ...

Note: This fix seems to work only after rebooting the system. Restarting the bumblebee service is not enough.

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          "1920x1080_60.00"

Section "Screen"
    Identifier     "Screen1"
    Device         "intelgpu1"
    Monitor        "Monitor1"
    DefaultDepth   24
    Option         "TwinView" "0"
    SubSection "Display"
        Depth          24
        Modes          "1920x1080_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 simultaneously, 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.

intel-virtual-output is a tool provided in the xf86-video-intel driver set, as of v2.99. 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. The detected displays will be manageable via any desktop display manager such as xrandr or KDE Display.

The tool will also start bumblebee (which may be left as default install). See the Bumblebee wiki page for more information.

Note: 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. You will also need to comment out the line Option "UseDisplayDevices" "none" in order to use the display connected to the NVIDIA GPU.

When run in a terminal, it will daemonize itself unless the -f switch is used. The advantage of using it in foreground mode is that once the external display is disconnected, 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.

Multiple NVIDIA Graphics Cards

If you have multiple NVIDIA graphics cards (eg. when using an eGPU with a laptop with another built in NVIDIA graphics card), you need to make a minor edit to /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia. If this change is not made the daemon may default to using the internal NVIDIA card.

First, determine the BusID of the external card:

$ lspci | grep -E "VGA|3D"
00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation HD Graphics 530 (rev 06)
01:00.0 3D controller: NVIDIA Corporation GM107M [GeForce GTX 960M] (rev a2)
0b:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GP104 [GeForce GTX 1070] (rev a1)

In this case, the BusID is 0b:00.0.

Now edit /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia and add the following line to Section "Device":

Section "Device"
    BusID "PCI:11:00:0"
Note: Notice that the hex 0b became a base10 11

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


Note: 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.

Xlib: extension "GLX" missing on display ":0.0"

If you tried to install the NVIDIA driver from NVIDIA website, this is not going to work.

1. Uninstall that driver in the similar way:

# ./NVIDIA-Linux-*.run --uninstall

2. Remove generated by NVIDIA Xorg configuration file:

# rm /etc/X11/xorg.conf

3. (Re)install the correct NVIDIA driver: #Installing Bumblebee with Intel/NVIDIA

[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"

Observe that the format of lspci output is in HEX, while in xorg it is in decimals. So if the output of lspci is, for example, 0a:00.0 the BusID should be PCI:10:0:0.

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 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

This could be because the nvidia driver is out of sync with the Linux kernel, for example if you installed the latest nvidia driver and haven't updated the kernel in a while. A full system update might resolve the issue. If the problem persists you should try manually compiling the nvidia packages against your current kernel, for example with nvidia-dkms or by compiling nvidia from the ABS.

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 "For 32-bit..." section in #Installation. If the problem persists or if it is a 64-bit application, try using the primus bridge.

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, make sure nvidia-settings is installed and 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[broken link: invalid section] 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 glxspheres64

or (for 32 bit):

$ optirun glxspheres32
[ 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.

Another reason for this error could be that you haven't actually turned on both gpu's in your bios, and as a result, the Bumblebee daemon is in fact not running. Check the bios settings carefully and be sure intel graphics (integrated graphics - may be abbreviated in bios as something like igfx) has been enabled or set to auto, and that it's the primary gpu. Your display should be connected to the onboard integrated graphics, not the discrete graphics card.

If you mistakenly had the display connected to the discrete graphics card and intel graphics was disabled, you probably installed Bumblebee after first trying to run Nvidia alone. In this case, be sure to remove the /etc/X11/xorg.conf or .../20-nvidia... configuration files. If Xorg is instructed to use Nvidia in a conf file, X will fail.

Running X.org from console after login (rootless X.org)

See Xorg#Rootless Xorg (v1.16).

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 with VSYNC disabled:

$ vblank_mode=0 primusrun glxgears

If you are satisfied with the above setting, create an alias (e.g. alias primusrun="vblank_mode=0 primusrun").

Performance comparison:

VSYNC enabled FPS Score Min FPS Max FPS
FALSE 31.5 793 22.3 54.8
TRUE 31.4 792 18.7 54.2

Tested with ASUS N550JV notebook and benchmark app unigine-heavenAUR.

Note: To disable vertical synchronization system-wide, see Intel graphics#Disable Vertical Synchronization (VSYNC).

Primus issues under compositing window managers

Since compositing hurts performance, invoking primus when a compositing WM is active is not recommended.[1] If you need to use primus with compositing and see flickering or bad performance, synchronizing primus' display thread with the application's rendering thread may help:

$ PRIMUS_SYNC=1 primusrun ...

This makes primus display the previously rendered frame.

Problems with bumblebee after resuming from standby

In some systems, it can happens that the nvidia module is loaded after resuming from standby. The solution for this, is to install the acpi_call and acpi package.

Optirun doesn't work, no debug output

Users are reporting that in some cases, even though Bumblebee was installed correctly, running

$ optirun glxgears -info

gives no output at all, and the glxgears window does not appear. Any programs that need 3d acceleration crashes:

$ optirun bash
$ glxgears
Segmentation fault (core dumped)

Apparently it is a bug of some versions of virtualgl. So a workaround is to install primus and lib32-primus and use it instead:

$ primusrun glxspheres64
$ optirun -b primus glxspheres64

By default primus locks the framerate to the vrate of your monitor (usually 60 fps), if needed it can be unlocked by passing the vblank_mode=0 environment variable.

$ vblank_mode=0 primusrun glxspheres64

Usually there is no need to display more frames han your monitor can handle, but you might want to for benchmarking or to have faster reactions in games (e.g., if a game need 3 frames to react to a mouse movement with vblank_mode=0 the reaction will be as quick as your system can handle, without it will always need 1/20 of second).

You might want to edit /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf to use the primus render as default. If after an update you want to check if the bug has been fixed just use optirun -b virtualgl.

See this forum post for more information.

Broken power management with kernel 4.8

Tango-view-refresh-red.pngThis article or section is out of date.Tango-view-refresh-red.png

Reason: Fixed on nvidia 375.26+ (Discuss in Talk:Bumblebee#)

If you have a newer laptop (BIOS date 2015 or newer), then Linux 4.8 might break bbswitch (bbswitch issue 140) since bbswitch does not support the newer, recommended power management method. As a result, the dGPU may fail to power on, fail to power off or worse.

As a workaround, add pcie_port_pm=off to your Kernel parameters.

Alternatively, if you are only interested in power saving (and perhaps use of external monitors), remove bbswitch and rely on Nouveau runtime power-management (which supports the new method).

Lockup issue (lspci hangs)

See NVIDIA Optimus#Lockup issue (lspci hangs)] for an issue that affects new laptops with a GTX 965M (or alike).

Discrete card always on and acpi warnings

Add acpi_osi=Linux to your Kernel parameters. See [2] and [3] for more information.

See also

Join us at #bumblebee at freenode.net.