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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.

The instructions on this page applies to Debian Wheezy and newer. Debian Squeeze and prior are not supported.

For users of versions newer than Wheezy, Bumblebee packages are available directly from the Debian repositories, head down to the Installation section. In summary, it's as simple as installing bumblebee or bumblebee-nvidia, and primus.

For Wheezy users, Bumblebee packages are available from wheezy-backports. Follow the steps listed on that page to add backports to your sources.list (but make sure that you also add wheezy-backports' contrib repository as well to your sources.list, e.g. deb wheezy-backports main contrib non-free), and then install bumblebee or bumblebee-nvidia, and primus. Refer to the Installation section below.


From repository

Users of versions newer than Wheezy 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

Users running a 64-bit system who want to take advantage of Bumblebee with the primus backend when running 32-bit applications will also want to install primus-libs:i386. This requires Multiarch support.

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install bumblebee-nvidia primus primus-libs:i386

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

sudo dpkg --add-architecture i386 && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -t wheezy-backports bumblebee-nvidia primus primus-libs:i386

Note wheezy-backports does not contain the newer xserver-xorg-video-intel package that is needed by newer intel cards. If you find yourself stuck with the fbdev or vesa driver then you'll need to upgrade to a newer version.

Warning: If you choose to install bumblebee-nvidia and the dependent nvidia driver packages, during postinst, you will see a debconf prompt warning you that you need to create a xorg.conf file in order to use the proprietary nvidia driver. This prompt only applies to non-Optimus users, i.e. single Nvidia GPU systems. Do NOT allow debconf to create a xorg.conf file, and do NOT run nvidia-xconfig! (This prompt always appears when you install nvidia packages through the repositories, and it currently does not detect Optimus/bumblebee users. See 735049 for a brief explanation.)

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

Compiling from source

Refer to Bumblebee/ManualInstall. These instructions are provided for historical reference only and are not recommended now that packages are available through the repositories.


You must add your user to the bumblebee group in order to use optirun, i.e.

sudo adduser $USER bumblebee

where $USER corresponds to your username. Don't forget to log out and log back in for this to take effect.

If you have sudo configured for your current user, i.e. your user is a member of the sudo group, this step is not needed (the bumblebee package postinst script takes care of adding sudo users to the bumblebee group automatically). This is likely to be the reason why Bumblebee works out of the box in Ubuntu, but not in Debian, with the same initial setup, i.e. Ubuntu has sudo installed by default; Debian does not. To clarify, sudo is not needed to use bumblebee; it simply makes adding your user to the bumblebee group unnecessary.


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


For a list of options for optirun open the manpage with man optirun or run:

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.

bbswitch is packaged in Debian and is automatically installed when choosing to install bumblebee through the repositories.

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.


If you have any questions, feel free to join #bumblebee on Freenode.

Reporting bugs/problems

First of all: If you have any problem, please read the article Troubleshooting. If your issue is not solved, you can join the #bumblebee IRC channel to ask for help (recommended). See also

When asked to create a bugreport, run the sudo bumblebee-bugreport command in a terminal

Common issues

- If optirun returns the following error: [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: Could not load GPU driver

You must edit /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf using your preferred editor as root, and change "KernelDriver=nvidia" to "KernelDriver=nvidia-current", then restart the bumblebee daemon, i.e.

 sudo service bumblebeed restart 

(Refer to Debian Bug 717687 for a brief explanation.)

- If optirun returns the following error: [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) No devices detected

You may have to set the BusID manually, in /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia. To get the BusID, run lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D' in a terminal. Refer to the comments in that file for further instructions.

- If optirun returns the following error (756522): [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU - error: [XORG] (EE) /dev/dri/card0: failed to set DRM interface version 1.4: Permission denied

You have to append the following section to /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia:

Section "Screen"
    Identifier "Default Screen"
    Device "DiscreteNvidia"

You might also try downgrading libdrm from 2.4.58 to 2.4.56. That might fix the Permission denied errors in Jessie.

- If optirun errors out and dmesg reports that your GPU has "fallen off the bus" on Linux >= 3.10, either stick with an older kernel version (<= 3.9), or add rcutree.rcu_idle_gp_delay=1 to your grub command line (in /etc/default/grub, then run update-grub and reboot) as a workaround.

This is a known problem upstream and suspected to be an issue with the proprietary nvidia driver. Refer to Bumblebee github issue #455.