Monthly Archives: May 2014

bumblebee or nvidia-prime?

Recently I installed the new Linux mint Qiana RC x64 on my Asus laptop which uses Nvidia Optimus technology.

Optimus is a switchable graphics technology, which uses either integrated Intel graphics or high performance Nvidia GPU. This automatic switching on demand has huge impact on battery life. You can read more about Nvidia optimus here.

Now as most of us using Linux know that this gives a heating problem in laptops and reduces the battery life greatly. Below are the two solutions with their differences.

Bumblebee:

Bumblebee uses the Intel graphics by default. It has a command “optirun” or later versions “primusrun” to run an application using Nvidia GPU. For more information go to http://bumblebee-project.org/

When I was chatting with one of the mint developers and he said bumblebee is phased out.

Nvidia-Prime:

This package is to be used with proprietary nvidia drivers. Much easier to install, this package uses nvidia gpu by default which for me is of no use most of the time. However we can change the settings using “nvidia-settings” and make it use Intel graphics. You will need to restart the laptop for this.

To install first purge all bumblebee related packages and then all you need are latest packages of : mdm, ubuntu-drivers and nvidia-prime. After this using driver manager install the recommended nvidia drivers and restart.

What to use:

Until now bumblebee is a pretty good and flexible option. So if you are using it now, there is no need to switch other than trying out the new.

However if you need high performance most of the time switch to nvidia prime. Or even if you dont need high performance at all, you can use this and then change the “Prime Profile” to Intel in nvidia-settings. But you wont get the flexibility which the optirun command gives.

So the choice is yours.