Bumblebee Project

Bumblebee aims to provide support for NVIDIA Optimus laptops for GNU/Linux distributions. Using Bumblebee, you can use your NVIDIA card for rendering graphics which will be displayed using the Intel card. Bumblebee is officially supported by Ubuntu in 13.10 Saucy or newer. However, all releases are supported by the Bumblebee Project community from Ubuntu version 12.04 up to 13.10.


Basic Setup for 12.04 - 13.04

You need to open your terminal and enter the commands below.

If on 12.04.3, replace linux-headers-generic with linux-headers-generic-lts-raring.

  1. Enable the Universe and Multiverse repositories - you need to do this to allow the bumblebee and nvidia packages respectively to be installed.

  2. sudo add-apt-repository ppa:bumblebee/stable

  3. sudo apt-get update

  4. Install Bumblebee using the default proprietary nvidia driver for 12.04 - 13.04 :

    sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia virtualgl linux-headers-generic

  5. Reboot

Basic Setup for 13.10 and later

You need to open your terminal and enter the commands below.

  1. Enable the Universe and Multiverse repositories - you need to do this to allow the bumblebee and nvidia packages respectively to be installed.

  2. sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia primus linux-headers-generic

  3. Reboot

Advanced Setups

For advanced users, if you do not want to use the proprietary nvidia driver or 32-bit libraries (for example, if you are only interested in power savings), you can do your custom installation.

Minimal setup : sudo apt-get install --no-install-recommends bumblebee

Depending on your needs, add to this line:

  • bumblebee-nvidia: proprietary nvidia driver support (if installed, become default over nouveau)

  • virtualgl: VirtualGL as backend

  • virtualgl-libs-ia32: 32bit support for VirtualGL on 64bit system, necessary to run 32bit app through optirun

  • primus: primus/primusrun as backend (virtualgl Stays default, you need to run optirun -b primus <app>)

  • primus-libs-ia32: 32bit support for primus/primurun on 64bit system, necessary to run 32bit app through optirun


To run your application with the discrete NVIDIA card run in the terminal:

  • $ optirun [options] <application> [application-parameters]


  • $ optirun firefox

For a list of options for optirun run:

  • $ optirun --help

Normally you do not use optirun for your window manager, installations or other non graphic heavy demanding programs. The optirun command is mainly used for graphic demanding programs or for games.

Power Management

A primary goal of this project is to not only enable use of the discrete GPU for rendering, but also to enable smart power management of the dGPU when it's not in use. We're using either bbswitch (a module) or vga_switcheroo (kernel module, experimental) to do this in Bumblebee.

Since Bumblebee 3.0, this feature is enabled by default, using bbswitch. This allow automatic power management, without any configuration needs.

If Power Management doesn't work on your laptop, please go to this Power Management (PM) page and help to improve Bumblebee.


"Cannot access secondary GPU" error

In LTS 12.04.3, 13.04 and later, if your card seems to be inaccessible, i.e. [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) No devices detected. you need to edit the /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia (or /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nouveau if using the noveau driver) and specify the correct BusID by following the instructions therein.

Error running 32-bit applications on a 64-bit system

If you're using a 64-bit system and 32-bit applications fail to run because libGL.so.1 is not found, then your system is probably not correctly configured to use the 32-bit Mesa GL libraries.

To fix this:

  1. Ensure that the package libgl1-mesa-glx:i386 is installed.
    You can run the following command too check that: apt-cache policy libgl1-mesa-glx:i386

  2. Do ONE of the following:
    • Reinstall bumblebee-nvidia by running the following command in a terminal: sudo apt-get install --reinstall bumblebee-nvidia
      This is the easiest solution.

    • Or configure the system to correctly use the 32-bit Mesa GL libraries:
      1. Open a terminal and run: sudo update-alternatives --config i386-linux-gnu_gl_conf
        Something like this will be displayed:

          Selection    Path                                      Priority   Status
        * 0            /usr/lib/nvidia-331/alt_ld.so.conf         8604      auto mode
          1            /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/mesa/ld.so.conf    500       manual mode
          2            /usr/lib/nvidia-331-prime/alt_ld.so.conf   8603      manual mode
          3            /usr/lib/nvidia-331/alt_ld.so.conf         8604      manual mode
        Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:
      2. Select the option /usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/mesa/ld.so.conf
        In the above case, you would enter 1.

      3. Run: sudo ldconfig

Updating drivers

The Bumblebee project recommends you install drivers only through APT and not drivers provided by nvidia.com directly. This said, whenever you update your drivers through the supported repositories, you need to setup the correct config values in /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf. See also this FAQ on github

Example update to nvidia-319 driver

E.g. to update to the latest update of 319.x driver, you need to install it through apt.

sudo apt-get install nvidia-319-updates nvidia-settings-319-updates

Then you need to edit /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf and set:





By running optirun nvidia-settings (or optirun -b none nvidia-settings -c :8) you can assert you are using the installed kernel module and driver.


Please join #bumblebee channel on Freenode if you wish to help testing and creating the installer.

Reporting bugs/problems

First of all: If you have any problem, please read this article: http://wiki.Bumblebee-Project.org/Troubleshooting

If your issue is not solved, you can join the #bumblebee IRC channel to ask for help (recommended). See also http://wiki.Bumblebee-Project.org/Reporting-Issues

If you're asked to create a bugreport, run the next command in a terminal: sudo bumblebee-bugreport


If you're unsatisfied with Bumblebee, you can remove it via:

  1. sudo apt-get install ppa-purge

  2. sudo ppa-purge ppa:bumblebee/stable

If you want to keep some programs from the bumblebee repository, you can also suffice by removing Bumblebee only (including its dependencies):

  1. sudo apt-get purge bumblebee

  2. sudo apt-get --purge autoremove

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There is sometimes confusion about CUDA. You don't need Bumblebee to run CUDA. Follow the How-to to get CUDA working under Ubuntu.

There is however a new feature (--no-xorg option for optirun) in Bumblebee 3.2, which makes it possible to run CUDA / OpenCL applications that does not need the graphics rendering capabilities.


Bumblebee (last edited 2014-10-29 20:11:33 by brunonova)