Friday, September 30, 2011

Installing and working with Bumblebee ( Configuring Linux laptops with nvidia GPU which comes with optimus technology )


       At last with the support of Hybrid LinuxSupport web site I managed to shutdown the nvidia graphic card and enable the intel HD3000 graphics in linux ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal.  Note that this guide is only a “simplified form of installing bumblebee which was extracted from above main mage for use of novice linux users”.
   There is a feature like same as optimus in ATI cards too. That can be settled with installing “IronHide”. I can’t tell anything about that as I got no ATI card in my laptop. So it’s the chance for someone else to check it and and inform us. Do a comment on your experiences. Thanks :D

What is Optimus technology ( for those who don’t know) – 

Laptops are made for portability.n So always product companies try to get best results with the battery life. Intel HD gpu consumes a little power and nvidia gpu consumes a lot of power. So always working with the nvidia gpu makes battery life to be weaker. So what this optimus technology does is switching two gpus when they want.

Working on documents, excel sheets – changes gpu to intel HD3000
Gaming – changes gpu to nvidia
HD video – changes gpu to nvidia
Operating system – changes gpu to intel HD3000

Conflicts with Linux systems

This is a great technology indeed. But the issue is this technology is not very well working with Linux distributions. Nvidia officials have said they have no idea to develop this software to linux distributions too. So what will happen will be both gpus will work when you boot with linux. Result will be a small battery life. Some laptops wont boot even. In my laptop Acer 4750G I tried to install linux ubuntu 11.04 natty narwhal but it doesn’t  gave me the chance to boot even to the install page. It gave me only a black screen. I waited about 30 minutes but nothing happened. This has happened to lot of people who bought laptops with nvidia optimus technology. By the way this technology works with windows 7 like a charm. I managed to code C++ in CodeBlocks software about 5 hours and 30 minutes with lowered brightness.
I checked some linux distributions with this laptop and results are –
Ubuntu 11.04 natty narwhal – Didn’t boot even. But managed to work with installed via WUBI and survived C++ coding in standard g++ compiler via terminal for about 3 hours..

Ubuntu 10.04 lucid lynx – Installed successfully. Initially gave me only a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. Then installed nvidia official linux driver and got the desired 1366 x 768 pixel resolution. ( its not a driver for optimus, but a driver to work that gpu with linux systems)

Linux arch ( kernel version – 3.0.3 ) – installed successfully.. when I installed gnome 3 gui in it all went to a black screen.  I think it can be corrected. As I’m not a genius in linux command line interface and linux arch I couldn’t get it worked yet. Big reason to worry. But I’ll do it in next week and update this post how to :)

I couldn’t check this with fedora or any other version as I couldn’t find any of them. If one of you have checked them with a nvidia optimus enabled computer please let us know. Do a comment explaining it. Thanks :)

With bumblebee software you can either get to work both gpus in optimus technology ( better for gaming ) or either you can turn off nvidia card. ( which saves power, great for any linux user)..  Let’s see how…


1)      sudo apt-get install git ( give the password and press enter )
3)      cd bumblebee/
4)      sudo ./
5)      Reboot

Some questions will be asked in the 4th step. So answer them and choose your laptop model wisely J

More configuration options.
By the default optimus is enabled and working with bumblebee. So if you are happy with that you don’t need these steps.

Deactivate nvidia gpu –
1)      Open the terminal
2)      Type without quotes  “sudo  /usr/local/bin/bumblebee-disablecard
3)       Exit the terminal and logoff. Log on again…

Activate nvidia gpu –
1)      Open the terminal
2)      Type without quotes “sudo /usr/local/bin/bumblebee-enablecard”
3)      Exit the terminal and logoff. Log on again

Manual re-configuration option –
1)      Open the terminal bumblebee-config

So that’s it. You will see a improvement of your battery life and less heat from now on as nvidia card is now not working always :)

These are some shots I got while i installing bumblebee.. enjoy :)



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