Configuring Ubuntu 16.04 for Optimus Laptops Using the Latest NVidia Proprietary Driver

NVidia Optimus works well under Linux when configured properly. Install the base Ubuntu system and complete the following steps to enable High Quality 3D graphics using the NVidia GPU:

Step 1: Add the Ubuntu Graphics PPA to APT Sources

Add the Ubuntu Graphics Drivers PPA to the system to gain access to the latest NVidia drivers:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
sudo apt-get update

Step 2: Install NVidia Driver and Bumblebee Switching Application

Install the bumblebee application and its constituent components and the desired NVidia proprietary driver to enable GPU switching. Accept any other required packages identified by the package management system.

sudo apt-get install bumblebee bumblebee-nvidia bbswitch-dkms nvidia-367 nvidia-367-dev libcuda1-367 nvidia-opencl-icd-367 nvidia-prime primus

Step 3: Edit Bumblebee Configuration Files

Modify the /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf file so that it points to the correct NVidia driver. This will be the version of the NVidia proprietary driver you installed in the last step. At the time of writing the lastest version was nvidia-367. As newer versions are released this will not be the case and you will need to modify this file to reflect the installed version.

You must to change the specified driver, bridge and default library locations at the bottom of the file under the nvidia section. See example below taking note of the bolded areas.

 # Configuration file for Bumblebee. Values should **not** be put between quotes

 ## Server options. Any change made in this section will need a server restart
 # to take effect.
 # The secondary Xorg server DISPLAY number
 # Should the unused Xorg server be kept running? Set this to true if waiting
 # for X to be ready is too long and don't need power management at all.
 # The name of the Bumbleblee server group name (GID name)
 # Card power state at exit. Set to false if the card shoud be ON when Bumblebee
 # server exits.
 # The default behavior of '-f' option on optirun. If set to "true", '-f' will
 # be ignored.
 # The Driver used by Bumblebee server. If this value is not set (or empty),
 # auto-detection is performed. The available drivers are nvidia and nouveau
 # (See also the driver-specific sections below)
 # Directory with a dummy config file to pass as a -configdir to secondary X

 ## Client options. Will take effect on the next optirun executed.
 # Acceleration/ rendering bridge, possible values are auto, virtualgl and
 # primus.
 # The method used for VirtualGL to transport frames between X servers.
 # Possible values are proxy, jpeg, rgb, xv and yuv.
 # List of paths which are searched for the primus when using
 # the primus bridge
 # Should the program run under optirun even if Bumblebee server or nvidia card
 # is not available?

 # Driver-specific settings are grouped under [driver-NAME]. The sections are
 # parsed if the Driver setting in [bumblebeed] is set to NAME (or if auto-
 # detection resolves to NAME).
 # PMMethod: method to use for saving power by disabling the nvidia card, valid
 # values are: auto - automatically detect which PM method to use
 # bbswitch - new in BB 3, recommended if available
 # switcheroo - vga_switcheroo method, use at your own risk
 # none - disable PM completely

 ## Section with nvidia driver specific options, only parsed if Driver=nvidia
 # Module name to load, defaults to Driver if empty or unset
 # colon-separated path to the nvidia libraries
 # comma-separated path of the directory containing and the
 # default Xorg modules path

 ## Section with nouveau driver specific options, only parsed if Driver=nouveau

Step 4: Edit NVidia Configuration File to Prevent Screen Tearing

Modify the /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia file adding the following option to the end of the “Device” section. This will ensure that screen tearing is not present when using the NVidia GPU under Linux (Forces the NVidia driver to try to maintain a constant locked output at 60 FPS).

Option "RegistryDwords" "PerfLevelSrc=0x2222"

For reference here is my working /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia file:

 Section "ServerLayout"
  Identifier "Layout0"
  Option "AutoAddDevices" "false"
  Option "AutoAddGPU" "false"

 Section "Device"
  Identifier "DiscreteNvidia"
  Driver "nvidia"
  VendorName "NVIDIA Corporation"

 # If the X server does not automatically detect your VGA device,
 # you can manually set it here.
 # To get the BusID prop, run `lspci | egrep 'VGA|3D'` and input the data
 # as you see in the commented example.
 # This Setting may be needed in some platforms with more than one
 # nvidia card, which may confuse the proprietary driver (e.g.,
 # trying to take ownership of the wrong device). Also needed on Ubuntu 13.04.
  BusID "PCI:01:00:0"

 # Setting ProbeAllGpus to false prevents the new proprietary driver
 # instance spawned to try to control the integrated graphics card,
 # which is already being managed outside bumblebee.
 # This option doesn't hurt and it is required on platforms running
 # more than one nvidia graphics card with the proprietary driver.
 # (E.g. Macbook Pro pre-2010 with nVidia 9400M + 9600M GT).
 # If this option is not set, the new Xorg may blacken the screen and
 # render it unusable (unless you have some way to run killall Xorg).

  Option "ProbeAllGpus" "false"
  Option "NoLogo" "true"
  Option "UseEDID" "false"
  Option "UseDisplayDevice" "none"
  Option "RegistryDwords" "PerfLevelSrc=0x2222"

Step 5: Set the Intel GPU as the Primary system GPU

Set the Intel driver to be the default system GPU used to help save on battery life. If you want to use the NVidia GPU to render everything you can change the prime-select argument to nvidia, but this will have a significant negative impact on overall battery life.

sudo prime-select intel

Step 6: Install VirtualGL Package

Download and install the VirtualGL package to provide 3D application GPU testing prior to attempting to launch real applications using the NVidia GPU. The VirtualGL package can be obtained directly from their website:

Make sure to download the latest DEB version for your architecture. If you are using 64-bit Ubuntu you will want to download the amd64 package. Once the package has been downloaded install it using your preferred package installation method and symlink the /opt/VirtualGL/bin/glxspheres64 binary to /usr/bin/glxspheres so it can be run easily from the command line.

sudo ln -s /opt/VirtualGL/bin/glxspheres64 /usr/bin/glxspheres

Step 7: Reboot the System

Reboot the system.

Step 8: Run GLXSPHERES Using Intel and NVidia GPUs

Once logged in following the reboot, open a terminal and verify that the Intel and NVidia drivers are working properly. Use the optirun command as a prefix to launch applications with the NVidia GPU. Applications you want to run using the Intel GPU do not require the optirun prefix.

Run glxspheres using the Intel i915 driver:

xipher@RazrBlade:~$ glxspheres

Polygons in scene: 62464 (61 spheres * 1024 polys/spheres)
Visual ID of window: 0x94
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: Mesa DRI Intel(R) HD Graphics 530 (Skylake GT2)
60.188675 frames/sec - 67.170561 Mpixels/sec

Run glxspheres using the NVidia driver:

xipher@RazrBlade:~$ optirun glxspheres

Polygons in scene: 62464 (61 spheres * 1024 polys/spheres)
Visual ID of window: 0x94
Context is Direct
OpenGL Renderer: GeForce GTX 970M/PCIe/SSE2
61.936621 frames/sec - 69.121269 Mpixels/sec

OPTIONAL: Configure Steam Games to Use NVidia GPU

Steam applications must be launched using a special pre-load command to use the NVidia GPU. When looking at your steam library, Right-Click the game you want to run with the NVidia GPU and select the ‘Properties’ option. On the window that opens, select ‘Set Launch Options…’.


Use the following launch option to tell Steam to run the game with the NVidia GPU:


OPTIONAL: Configure NVidia GPU to Enable FXAA for all Applications

Many applications do not have an option to enable Anti-Aliasing within the applications settings. You can enable FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing, a low cost implementation of AA) for all applications in the nvidia-settings application. This will apply Anti-Aliasing at the driver level and provides it to all applications run using the NVidia GPU.

The nvidia-settings application must be launched using the optirun command so that the driver can access the NVidia GPU. By default bumblebee uses the 8th screen for the NVidia GPU, so use the -c :8 flag to specify which screen nvidia-settings should use.

xipher@RazrBlade:~$ optirun nvidia-settings -c :8



19 thoughts on “Configuring Ubuntu 16.04 for Optimus Laptops Using the Latest NVidia Proprietary Driver

  1. James

    I get:

    Polygons in scene: 62464 (61 spheres * 1024 polys/spheres)
    Xlib: extension “GLX” missing on display “:8”.
    ERROR in line 619:
    Could not obtain RGB visual with requested properties

    when running optirun glxspheres.

    Any ideas on what could be causing that?

    1. xipher Post author

      That error message is indicating that the application ‘glxspheres’ was unable to draw 3D (GLX) textures on the virtual screen used by bumblebee. I think this is pointing to a problem either with the NVidia driver installation OR the configuration files. Check your /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf AND /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia to ensure that ALL the necessary fields are adjusted. Pay special attention to the Driver= field in the bumblebee.conf as it is what calls the nvidia driver.

  2. Bert De Mens

    Thanks for the guide, worked like a charm for me. Really happy I don’t have to log off every time that I want to switch GPU driver for an application any more.

  3. cthulhu

    the bumblebee package has a bug that does not end the nvidia modules and does not turn off the graphics card after use, in this case follows what should be done:

    sudo rmmod nvidia_uvm
    sudo rmmod nvidia_drm
    sudo rmmod nvidia_modeset
    sudo rmmod nvidia
    tee /proc/acpi/bbswitch <<< OFF

  4. Luther Lebtag

    Hei. I am geting error when trying to test nvidia driver

    user:~$ optirun glxspheres
    [ 846.749595] [ERROR]The Bumblebee daemon has not been started yet or the socket path /var/run/bumblebee.socket was incorrect.
    [ 846.749635] [ERROR]Could not connect to bumblebee daemon – is it running?

    I check etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf AND /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia to make sure they are pointing to nvidia.
    I guess something with the installation. Any ideas?

    1. xipher Post author

      I ran into this when I had a typo in the /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf file. At least in my case, the typo prevented the bumblebee daemon from starting properly. You should triple check your bumblebee.conf and see if you can start the daemon manually by invoking bumblebee from the terminal:

      ~$  sudo service bumblebeed start
      1. emrullah

        [code] gokboru@gokboru-pc:~$ sudo service bumblebeed start
        [sudo] password for gokboru:
        gokboru@gokboru-pc:~$ optirun glxspheres
        [ 133.112632] [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU – error: Could not load GPU driver

        [ 133.112665] [ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.
        I am getting this error, I try start bumblebeed but same error.

        1. xipher Post author

          When I have encountered that it has been because of an error in my /etc/bumblebee/bumblebee.conf file. In your case I would double check the file and make sure there is no preceeding spaces or lines at the top (Got bit by that one before :/ ) and that the correct PCI device is in the /etc/bumblebee/xorg.conf.nvidia file. I have seen some instances where the PCI device ID for the Nvidia card is not the expected 00:01.00 and is something else. You can figure yours out by running

           ~# sudo lspci 
  5. wilawerek

    Hi there. I’ve followed every step smoothly until “optirun glxspheres” command. When I try to run it I get an error:
    [ 445.186983] [ERROR]Cannot access secondary GPU – error: [XORG] (EE) Failed to load module “mouse” (module does not exist, 0)
    [ 445.187058] [ERROR]Aborting because fallback start is disabled.
    I’ve checked ‘bumblebee.conf’ & ‘xorg.conf.nvidia’ files and there is no typos. Also command “sudo service bumblebeed start” returns no messages.
    Do you know what could go wrong and how it can be fixed?

  6. Bidule

    Hi, and tanks for your tutorial, i have a little problem after following this tutorial, my Razer freeze on starting.. I don’t have a solution for rollback config. Do you have a tricks for example boot on live USB for restor config files ?

    Thank you

    1. xipher Post author

      Hello Bidule,
      Unfortunately I have moved away from the Razor laptop due to HW issues. I am now using an Alienware so I can’t reproduce your issue. Your issue sounds similar to what mine was doing before I sent it in for repair. The GTX970 had gone bad and was freezing the laptop when I attempted to use it with optimus. I was running into similar issues in Windows though so if yours is solid all the time in Windows it may be something else.

  7. tkdefender

    It worked all the way up until testing the optirun glxspheres. I get this message after trying to run it.
    optirun glxspheres
    primus: fatal: failed to load any of the libraries: /usr/lib/nvidia-current/
    /usr/lib/nvidia-current/ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
    /usr/lib32/nvidia-current/ cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

    1. xipher Post author

      It appears that its complaining that it can’t find the Nvidia driver files. Triple check your /etc/bumblebee.conf and ensure that you have updated all the necessary fields to point to the correct driver that you chose to install and then reload the bumblebee service (Or reboot)

  8. jeremyrutman

    my razer stealth (RZ-09) hangs after step 7 (reboot). when i boot in recovery, i see some systemd log lines : failed to enable subscription, and failed to fully start up daemon input/output error. any advice ??

    1. xipher Post author

      Unfortunately I have given up on Razer and have moved onto a Dell XPS 13 and a Razor Core with NVidia graphics. I ran into too many issues and Razor wasn’t interested in working with the community to fix them. I would say, you may want to try the latest version of Ubuntu available since it should come with a Kernel that will support the Intel chipset your laptop is using.


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