Nvidia Optimus is an optimization technology created by Nvidia which, depending on the resource load generated by client software applications, will transparently and seamlessly switch between two graphics adapters within a computer system in order to provide either maximum performance or minimum power draw from the system's graphics rendering hardware. From Bumblebee's FAQ: Bumblebee is a 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.
The discrete GPU (NVidia) is turned off when not in use and activated and turned on though ACPI calls when demanding OpenGL applications require the extra power the discrete GPU can give. Demanding OpenGL applications might include such things as 3D games or 3D rendering software but would not include such things as a web browser or a video playback program like mplayer or VLC.
How can you tell if you have an optimus notebook computer?
If you purchased a notebook with an NVidia sticker on it, you might have a optimus computer. If you don’t have an optimus technology computer nothing in this documentation is relevant to your PC. (Optimus was slated at one point to go in desktop PCs but the industry ended up rejecting that concept…)
To tell, after you have installed the OS, open a terminal window and type:
$ lspci | grep VGA
If you see two video cards in the output like:
$ lspci | grep VGA 00:02.0 VGA compatible controller: Intel Corporation 4th Gen Core Processor Integrated Graphics Controller (rev 06) 01:00.0 VGA compatible controller: NVIDIA Corporation GK208M [GeForce GT 730M] (rev ff)
And one is a Intel “Integrated Graphics Controller” and the other is a “NVIDIA Corporation” chip, then you probably have an optimus notebook.
To further verify, if you have the two VGA devices with one as Intel Integrated and other as NVIDIA, as root look for the /sys/kernel/debug/vgaswitcheroo/switch file. If it exists, then you have an optimus PC. If its missing, then you might not. (It might be that you have a card that nouveau can’t use yet because it is too new…)
Before you get started
Most users will want to turn off “Secure boot” in the bios or UEFI screen when you need nvidia drivers or bbswitch-dkms. If you want to make your own public / private keys for kernel module signing you can look here or here for more information on the subject. If you end up doing that and use the closed source NVidia driver, you will need to edit the /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee-nvidia-sign.conf file.
Next, do a dnf update before you begin. And just to be safe, reboot your PC so that you are booted into the newest kernel. The reason for this is that you want the kernel-devel package to match the kernel you are running under. If you don’t reboot after a dnf update these versions may differ which will cause compiling problems.
For free or open source solution
In fact, you can no longer use the bumblebee software with nouveau any longer even if you want to. See issue 773 for further information about this subject. You MUST USE PRIME. The nouveau driver already handles power saving nowadays so bumblebee would just be superfluous…
For closed source solution
Do not use the NVidia video drivers from http://rpmfusion.org/, http://negativo17.org/. I’m sure they are fine drivers and I am not trying to criticize them at all. But they DO NOT support or work with bumblebee without modifications. I have created a pair of drivers packages you may use that require no modifications to work. There is a managed version which contains a reasonably recent “long lived branch” driver blob. There is also a unmanaged repo which contains an empty drivers package. The unmanaged version requires you to download a “blob” from here and then copy the file manually to the /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/ directory as root. You might need the “unmanaged” version if your laptop requires a “legacy” driver version or if you need the “short lived branch” driver for some reason. Do not install both the managed and unmanaged repos. You should pick one or the other depending on your needs. If you are unsure which to use, use the managed repo.
Special note concerning versions 355.11-375.10:
There is a bug which prevents certain versions from working with the unmanaged version of the bumblebee-nvidia shell script wrapper. I have opened a discussion thread here concerning this problem. See also this issue on github.com. If you use a version older then 355.11 or newer then 375.10 you should be ok. If you need one in between those you’ll have to patch and compile the nvidia-installer program yourself to get it to work. You’d need to disable the symlink check and the runtime check within the c code which is what we did for a while there with the “managed” version.
For closed source solution fedora
Add bumblebee repo: (depending on what release you are on)
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee/fedora23/noarch/bumblebee-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee/fedora24/noarch/bumblebee-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee/fedora25/noarch/bumblebee-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
Managed NVidia repo: (depending on what release you are on)
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree/fedora23/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree/fedora24/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree/fedora25/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
or Unmanaged NVidia repo: (depending on what release you are on)
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged/fedora23/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged/fedora24/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
# dnf -y --nogpgcheck install http://install.linux.ncsu.edu/pub/yum/itecs/public/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged/fedora25/noarch/bumblebee-nonfree-unmanaged-release-1.2-1.noarch.rpm
Remember, you do not want to install both the managed and unmanaged repos. Pick one or the other but not both!
No multilib fedora 23+:
# dnf install bumblebee-nvidia bbswitch-dkms primus kernel-devel
Multilib on a 64 bit install fedora 23+: (You may need to add additional 32 bit packages to get your 32 bit applications to work with bumblebee/primus)
# dnf install bumblebee-nvidia bbswitch-dkms VirtualGL.x86_64 VirtualGL.i686 primus.x86_64 primus.i686 kernel-devel
You will need to reboot before you can test if its working. If you used the “unmanaged” repo don’t forget to copy the NVidia “blob” to /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/ before you reboot! Most folks will want the “managed” version rather then the “unmanaged” version.
Using bumblebee software
$ optirun [options] application [application-parameters]
For example, start a Windows applications with optimus named application.exe:
$ optirun wine application.exe
For another example, open NVidia settings panel with optimus:
$ optirun -b none nvidia-settings -c :8
For another example, open the java based Minecraft with primus bridge:
$ optirun -b primus java -jar /PATH/TO/Minecraft.jar
For a list of the options for optirun, view its manual page:
$ man optirun
In general, using the primus bridge gives better performance then using the default VirtualGL bridge. In bumblebee 4.0 (coming soon) primus will become the default bridge and VirtuaGL will need to be called explicitly if you still want it. Also beginning with bumblebee 4.0 (coming soon) the VirtuaGL dependency will be replaced with a primus dependency instead. So you might not even have VirtuaGL installed by default in the future.
For primus, there is a separate shell script you can use to invoke it called “primusrun.”
For a list of the options for primusrun, view its manual page:
$ man primusrun
$ primusrun java -jar /PATH/TO/Minecraft.jar
$ optirun -b primus java -jar /PATH/TO/Minecraft.jar
are functionally equivalent commands.
It may become tedious to always use the optirun program in a terminal to launch 3D games or other 3D opengl applications. You may wish to create desktop launchers which use the optirun or primusrun commands in order to streamline this process.
For example, in MATE desktop environment, when you right click on an empty space in the desktop a popup menu is displayed. One option on this menu is “Create launcher..” which allows you to create a graphical launcher icon for your apps which can be left on the desktop or moved into some folder. Other desktop environments also offer this functionality though the methods differ from desktop to desktop.
Multi monitor setup with closed driver
Optimus laptops have two video chips: an integrated Intel and a discrete NVidia one. If the port (DisplayPort / HDMI / VGA) is wired to the Intel chip, you do not need to do anything special to get external monitors to work.
When the external port is wired into the NVidia chip, you cannot currently expand the screen over monitors without extra effort. Read on if you fall into this category…
Install the intel-gpu-tools package.
# dnf install intel-gpu-tools
Running ‘intel-virtual-output’ (from the intel-gpu-tools rpm) without any extra parameters will daemonize itself and detect attached displays in the background. It will then perform all the trickery of virtualizing and cloning so that the newly attached screen can be used via conventional screen management methods, such as cloning/extending with xrandr.
For example, if your laptop’s display is called eDP1, and your using a external adapter called HDMI1, and you wanted the display to be 1920×1080 resolution, you could run the following commands:
To have your HDMI screen to the right of your desktop, run:
$ xrandr –output eDP1 –mode 1920×1080 –output HDMI1 –mode 1920×1080 –right-of eDP1
To clone your desktop, run:
$ xrandr –output eDP1 –mode 1920×1080 –output HDMI1 –mode 1920×1080 –same-as eDP1
There are many different possibilities. Type xrandr with no arguments to see what displays you have attached. See this web page for further information on this subject. Read the manual page for xrandr for even more information on the possibilities this command provides.
If intel-virtual-output works ok running by hand you could add it to your startup automatically if you desire. One way would be to create a /etc/rc.d/rc.local script and add it into there. Another way might be to create a systemd unit file as Type=oneshot. A third way might be to run it at login using whatever mechanism your desktop environment supports for doing such things. For example, in MATE desktop environment, there is a mate-session-properties program (System -> Preferences -> Personal -> Startup Applications) that you can run programs from when you login. Most desktop environments offer similar functionality though the methods differ from desktop to desktop.
When you are using the closed source NVidia drivers, there is a checking system you can run. To test, type this command:
$ bumblebee-nvidia --check
This will tell you if the NVidia driver and bbswitch-dkms compiled into the current kernel ok. It works with both the managed and unmanaged driver packages.
Some other errors you may encounter form the output from bumblebee-nvidia –check
Error: Too many NVidia blobs in /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/ Blob count = 2.
This means that there are too many NVidia “blobs” in /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/ and the solution is to delete one of them.
Error: No Nvidia blob in /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/
This means there is no blob in /etc/sysconfig/nvidia/ and you should copy one there if using the unmanaged repo or re-install bumblebee-nvidia if using the managed repo. (dnf reinstall bumblebee-nvidia)
If the module did not compile, you can run:
# bumblebee-nvidia --debug
as root or via sudo. This may give you clues as to why the nvidia installer was unable to work.
$ bumblebee-nvidia --help
to see a full list of options the wrapper script provides.
If you see this error:
[ERROR]You've no permission to communicate with the Bumblebee daemon. Try adding yourself to the 'bumblebee' group [ERROR]Could not connect to bumblebee daemon - is it running?
It could be caused by adding another user account to your notebook after you have already installed the various bumblebee packages. The solution is to run:
# usermod -a -G bumblebee USERNAME
where USERNAME is your account name to add to the bumblebee group. You MUST be in the bumblebee group for primusrun or optirun to work.
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
Primus issues under compositing window managers
Since compositing hurts performance, invoking primus when a compositing WM is active is not recommended. 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 ...
optirun crashes after you boot into “Troubleshooting -> Start Fedora Live in basic graphics mode” and do an install that way.
If you did an install under “Troubleshooting -> Start Fedora Live in basic graphics mode.” bumblebee will not work. You can tell by examining the /var/log/Xorg.8.log log file and looking for Kernel command line: and seeing nomodeset on that line. When you use “Start Fedora Live in basic graphics mode.” it adds “nomodeset” to your kernel command line which will cause your machine to use the VESA driver and make bumblebee not work. (It will just crash when you try) To fix that, edit /etc/default/grub and on the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX= line, remove the word nomodeset and then save the file, next, either run
# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/grub2/grub.cfg
on a BIOS based notebook or
# grub2-mkconfig -o /boot/efi/EFI/fedora/grub.cfg
on a UEFI based notebook. Then reboot. After that bumblebee/optirun/primusrun should start working.
Compatibility with recent laptops that have American Megatrend BIOSes
Some recent laptop models featuring AMI bioses have some compatibility issues with bbswitch and Optimus, making them unable to load into graphics mode and crashing every time it is attempted, as discussed in further details in this post on the Bumblebee's github: https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee/issues/764#issuecomment-234494238 .
If you are trying to use Linux on a recent Optimus laptop and it crashes every time you try to enter a graphics environment, please try adding the following parameters to your boot loader (Fedora users usually have GRUB installed):
acpi_osi=! acpi_osi='Windows 2009'
This seems to work on most laptop models facing this issue, but bear in mind that this workaround has not been tested in every laptop model ever made – so your mileage may vary. If the problems persist, you could try updating your BIOS or look for more info in the Bumblebee documentation and their community.
Broken power management with kernel 4.8
If you have a newer laptop (BIOS date 2015 or newer), then Linux 4.8 might break bbswitch 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.
See Issue 140 for further information about this problem.
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 bumblebee / bbswitch and rely on Nouveau runtime power-management (which supports the new method).
mesa-13.0.3-6 and libglvnd issues
In fedora 25 and 26 a new library called libglvnd was added which initially caused some issues.
primus-1.1.03282015-4 and newer, bumblebee-3.2.1-13 and newer, and (managed version) bumblebee-nvidia-375.26-2 and newer, and (un-managed version) bumblebee-nvidia-3.0-2 and newer will work with the newer mesa and new libglvnd library.
When you first upgrade to mesa-13.0.3-6 or newer bumblebee-nvidia doesn't know that it needs to rebuild the shim. So you can force that by running the command:
via su as root or via sudo. And the primus bridge should work after that. You can track this issue upstream here.