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bumblebee Q&A Re: Bumblebee Questions


Edited a bit:

> 1. What is Bumblebee good for?

Bumblebee offloads graphics processing from a graphics-intense
application, for example, for 3D-accelerated applications or CUDA code
to the discrete GPU.

> 2. In what scenarios should I install Bumblebee?

It can be used when you use the integrated card for day-to-day work,
but want to execute GPU-intense applications every once in a while. In
combination with a working acpi_call or switcheroo, you have the
benefits of higher battery life and hot on/off switching the GPU card
when needed.

> 3. Is it currently only for testing?

It's been used for quite a while. Lots of people use it every day. I do.

> 4. I have a hybrid graphics card (without Optimus technology), can I use the onboard and discrete card simultaneously or are they mutually exclusive?

You will be using it simultaneously when you call one or more
application with the "optirun" prefix. For example, you can call a
WebGL-enabled browser like chrome with "optirun google-chrome", and
the WebGL code will run through your GPU. You can simultaneously be
using it for games or other 3D-accelerated applications. The rest of
the applications, including the desktop windowing manager, will go
through the integrated card.

> 5. I have a hybrid graphics card (without Optimus technology), how do I (easily) tell my machine to use either the onboard or the discrete card? (i.e. Is there an applet to do this?)

In that case, unless you've set up the BIOS to specifically point to
the nvidia card, you will be using the integrated card as the main
card and only use the nvidia card when called using optirun. If you
want to use only the nvidia card, most successful cases involve
telling your BIOS which card to use when rebooting. It's called cold
switching via the BIOS. If your BIOS doesn't support it, you'll be
using the integrated card for your desktop, and the discrete when
called via optirun. For AMD pre-BACON cards, you can do login/logout
switching in some cases, either with switcheroo or Catalyst.

> 6. In order to use the HDMI and VGA ports, do I need to use the nVidia driver? (this may not apply but anyway...)

No, the Intel drivers can candle HDMI. That said, depending on your
specific hardware, the intel drivers may be a bit limited in the
different resolutions of supported external HDMI screens. If you have
the option of choosing nVidia at BIOS time, then you'll be able to use
the nVidia through HDMI, but it depends on the physical configuration
of the laptop, AFAIK.

> 7. What is the recommended way to install Bumblebee: git or PPA? or other?

Both work fine. PPA is easier for Ubuntu 11.04, since it's only two
lines. Copy+pasting the git instructions should always work in most
Linux distros. The end result is the same.

> 8. Do I need to run jockey and install the nVidia driver before installing Bumblebee?

Bumblebee takes care of it all.

> 9. After installing Bumblebee, do I have to do anything else?

If you don't have a working acpi_call method, submit your DSDT info to
our launchpad bug report, as explained in the website.
If you *do* have a working acpi_call method, then copy the bumblebee
template from the /usr/share/doc/bumblebee directory to your
/usr/local/bin. For example, for an Alienware M11xR2:

sudo cp /usr/share/doc/bumblebee/bumblebee-disablecard.alienware.M11XR2
sudo cp /usr/share/doc/bumblebee/bumblebee-enablecard.alienware.M11XR2

The bumbleble-disablecard-on-powerup should do the rest. In that way,
the card will be disabled up until the point when you call an
application with optirun. It'll switch back off when the last
remaining optirun application is closed.

If you don't care about battery life, and acpi_call is not used, your
discrete card will be always on, but only used when calling a program
through optirun.

> [10. I read somewhere that I had to add an x-swat repository to get newer nVidia drivers, is this necessary?]

Not sure about this one. The nvidia drivers that are linked to
bumblebee are the ones reported to work.

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