Bumblebee on nVidia Optimus

A few days ago we saw a solution for reduce the consumption in cases where 2 video cards are used. Another solution for users who have video cards nVidia with technology Optimus would be to install the software «bumblebee«. 

GGG is one of the Winners from our weekly competition: «Share what you know about Linux«. Congratulations! Anxious about take part and make your contribution to the community, as did the "mysterious" GGG?

What is Bumblebee?

Nvidia Optimus is an Nvidia technology for notebooks that allows you to switch between the Nvidia GPU and the graphics chip that we have in our device. The purpose is to save battery, thus, when the Nvidia GPU is not used, Optimus takes care of deactivating it and that our device works with the graphics chip and not the Nvidia GPU.

Unfortunately Nvidia has only released official support for Windows 7, but this is where the Bumblebee project appears, since it is the UNOFFICIAL project for Linux.


Instructions for installing bumblebee on almost any distribution can be found at Bumblebee wiki; logically we will need a notebook with Nvidia Optimus

In some Linux-type distributions the installation process is really simple: add a repository; update repositories; install bumblebee and reboot the machine.


Continuing with the terminology that is used in Carlos in his mini-tutor, I will say that what "bumblebee" does is the following: when the OS boots the "discrete graphics" (in my case an nVidia GeForce GT 555M with Optimus technology) is always disconnected and the system uses the "integrated graphics" (in my case case an Intel 2nd Generation integrated into an Intel I7 microprocessor).

When we need to use the «discrete graphics», for example to run a game or to watch a movie, we have to launch the application in a terminal preceded by the «optirun» command. Thus:

optirun totem
optirun firefox # (in case we want to use the powerful graphics card with the browser)

In doing so, bumblebee disconnects the "integrated graphics" and connects the "discrete graphics". When closing the application launched in this way (optirun totem), bumblebee makes the change from "discrete to integrated" again.

In this way, by default "energy saving" is preferred and only when the user so requests is the power of the dedicated graphic used.

I have been using bumblebee for a long time, without problems on various Linux-type distributions: Debian, Linux Mint and Slackware.

Bumblebee also has the advantage of being able to use the "proprietary nVidia controller or the free Nouveau".

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  1.   Ace of spades said

    To be sure: can you only launch the application from the terminal and always telling it for which specific program we need it?
    Thanks in advance.

  2.   Let's use Linux said

    Haha! OKAY. Good goat ...
    Cheers! Paul.

  3.   Xurxo said

    "mysterious"?? 🙂 noooo xDDDD

    A lover of free software, open source and the communities of creators, developers, maintainers and users.

    User of UNIX and UNIX-like operating systems since the late 80s (Unixware, BSD *, Solaris).

    User of operating systems based on the Linux kernel and GNU tools (gcc, xorg ...) since the publication of the first Slackware distribution (which I still use 🙂

    I currently use Slackware, Debian, and Mint. I test "all" versions of Linux and FreeBSD-like distributions (I am writing this comment on a dedicated i7 and nVidia microprocessor laptop, running Linux Mint 14 Nadia, with Bumblebee working properly).

    Thank you all. You can find me on the Internet 🙂

    Active on IRC (still 🙂 hispanic.org (#linux_novatos) and freenode (#bumblebee, #slackware)

    Active on Google Plus user: Xurxo GG





    A cordial greeting.-