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Bumblebee Project - Manual Installation

These instructions are provided for historical reference only and are not recommended now that packages are available through the repositories. Please refer to Bumblebee instead, if you wish to install bumblebee on Debian.

These instructions were moved here from the original Bumblebee Debian wiki page due to confusion from users who compiled bumblebee from source unintentionally, and then seeked help via the BTS and on IRC.


Uninstall all earlier versions of Bumblebee or debumblebee.

Driver choice

NVIDIA Optimus graphics card are very recent, the nouveau package supplied with Squeeze is very old. For nouveau, kernel 3.1 and up is recommended because of the firmware. If you're using Squeeze, the easiest way is to use the NVIDIA proprietary driver.


To install the nvidia proprietary driver, you will have to install the nvidia-glx and nvidia-kernel-dkms packages. If using Squeeze, the backports repository needs to be enabled. Make sure APT has non-free and contrib sources (consult the sources.list(5) man page for help on doing this).

After refreshing the package lists using sudo apt-get update, install the NVIDIA drivers with:

sudo apt-get install -t squeeze-backports nvidia-glx linux-headers-$(uname -r) nvidia-kernel-dkms

(remove -t squeeze-backports if you are not using Squeeze)

The following command is very important, if you skip it you will loose 3D acceleration. Restore Mesa as the default GL library since the primary display is running on the Intel graphics card:

sudo update-alternatives --set glx /usr/lib/mesa-diverted


From repository

Sid and Jessie users can install everything directly from the official repositories.

For users who would like to use the free nouveau driver:

sudo apt-get install bumblebee primus

For users who would like to use the proprietary nvidia driver (again, requires contrib and non-free enabled in your sources.list):

sudo apt-get install bumblebee-nvidia primus

Wheezy users can install everything directly from backports.

sudo apt-get install -t wheezy-backports bumblebee primus

sudo apt-get install -t wheezy-backports bumblebee-nvidia primus

Alternatively, Wheezy, Jessie, and Sid users can install everything from an external repository (which was setup before bumblebee packages were made available in the official repositories). Check for details.


Configure the source tree, it can be as simple as ./configure if you use nouveau and want to install Bumblebee to /usr with the configuration directory at /usr/local/etc/bumblebee. If configure is missing, run autoreconf -fi first (see README.markdown).

If you use the proprietary nvidia driver, set the correct driver paths. For Squeeze:

./configure CONF_LDPATH_NVIDIA=/usr/lib/nvidia:/usr/lib32/nvidia \

For Wheezy or newer:

./configure CONF_LDPATH_NVIDIA=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/nvidia:/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/nvidia:/usr/lib32/nvidia \

Append --sysconfdir=/etc if you wish to have configuration files available at /etc/bumblebee.

Continue with building and installing files.

sudo make install

Startup script

To make the bumblebee daemon (bumblebeed) start on boot, install an init script:

sudo install -m755 scripts/sysvinit/bumblebeed /etc/init.d/
sudo update-rc.d bumblebeed defaults

Unless you reboot, you have to start it manually:

sudo invoke-rc.d bumblebeed start


For security reasons, the use of Bumblebee is restricted to a certain group. By default, this group is bumblebee, which must be created:

sudo groupadd bumblebee

Users who are allowed to use Bumblebee must be added (replace $USER accordingly):

sudo usermod -a -G bumblebee $USER

Group settings are re-read after login so re-login to get started.


If you're unsatisfied with Bumblebee, you can remove it by running sudo make uninstall from the source directory.