Ordi Dec 9, 2012 @ 12:04am
Steam doesn't work with Bumblebee
I'm currently running Arch Linux with the latest NVidia (660M) and Intel (HD 4000) drivers as well as the latest kernel, etc. To my knowledge, the difference between Ubuntu's packages and Arch's should not affect the status of this bug, however, I could be wrong.

Quoting the Arch Linux wiki:
"Bumblebee is an effort to make NVIDIA Optimus enabled laptops work in GNU/Linux systems. Such feature involves two graphics cards with two different power consumption profiles plugged in a layered way sharing a single framebuffer."

Essentially, the Intel graphics card manages the X server and display, however, if I run a program through bumblebee (done by sending it to the optirun or primusrun command, primusrun preferred if available), it will pass all of the OpenGL calls to the NVidia card to actually render the window, then send the rendered data back to the Intel card so that it can be displayed on the screen. As far as the program is concerned, it is running exclusively on the NVidia card.

The side effects of this program is the fact that the games are run in a different X display than the rendered screen, meaning that any attempt to open game windows on the current display through Bumblebee fail.

A suggested functionality for Steam would be:
- If the primusrun command is available, run the game via primusrun <command>.
- If the optirun command is available, run the game via optirun <command>.
- If neither is available, run the game as normal.

Note that there are no visible side effects if primusrun/optirun calls are nested, for example, steam is run in optirun/primusrun and then the games are run in the same fashion.

Currently, Steam does run any games for me when called via primusrun steam or optirun steam. Without this, I can't use my NVidia card for games, etc.

Just to make sure that I'm clear, Steam does work normally. The problem is that if it is run through Bumblebee, it fails, and I need to run it through Bumblebee if I want to utilise the NVidia GPU on my laptop.
Last edited by Ordi; Dec 9, 2012 @ 12:06am
Showing 1-7 of 7 comments
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polython Dec 9, 2012 @ 12:34pm 
I have a similar laptop (GT 540M and Intel HD Graphics 4000), but I'm using Ubuntu at the moment. Same problem - I can't run any games. If I try to run the game (SPAZ) via the command line with "optirun ./SPAZ" I just get an error that Steam is not running.
Milgar Dec 10, 2012 @ 9:21am 
Hi, can you try the method giving in the link bellow? It works for me, i played Cogs with it...
Last edited by Milgar; Dec 10, 2012 @ 9:22am
Ordi Dec 10, 2012 @ 4:02pm 
I just tried this for TF2 and it appears to work perfectly! But it would probably be desirable if Steam used primusrun/optirun by default.
Sukarn Maini Dec 11, 2012 @ 7:13am 
Or if Steam at least provided us with an option to run it with primusrun / optirun. The option could be in the form of a checkbox with the following text - "Run on dedicated nVidia graphics card", with the checkbox being tick-able only if primusrun and/or optirun is found on the system.

Same as what the OP said, this is how Steam should behave if the checkbox is ticked -
1) primusrun is to be used if it is found on the system.
2) If it is not found, then optirun is to be used.
3) If neither is found, then the option cannot be ticked.

Steam aims to make gaming easier. It isn't easy for people if they have to manually work-around this technology every time they want to play a game on their dedicated graphics card.

Can someone from Valve please comment on whether a note has been made of this or whether we have to post this in Feature Requests?
Last edited by Sukarn Maini; Dec 11, 2012 @ 7:19am
Serpens Dec 20, 2012 @ 1:59pm 
Something like ''set launch options" in game properties, but for prefixing game command with whatever I put there would be enough for me. Not exactly user friendly, but should work.
Sukarn Maini Dec 21, 2012 @ 1:42am 
@Serpens: They've already implemented this. See the stick on Optimus in this forum.
Serpens Dec 21, 2012 @ 8:04am 
@Lock 'n LOL: thanks a lot!
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