Take the 2-minute tour ×
Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It's working as expected (Ubuntu 12.04 x64) and I have no problems. However I'm slightly worried about any possible damage to the hardware, I know it's far fetched but it's an unofficial workaround, does anyone know of any risks that come with this software, any criticism from hardware manufacturers?

share|improve this question

2 Answers 2

Although it is unofficial, Nvidia knows of the Bumblebee project.

A quote from their PR response (I do not fully agree with it, but that is not relevant here):

Recently, there have been some questions raised about our lack of support for our Optimus notebook technology. When we launched our Optimus notebook technology, it was with support for Windows 7 only. The open source community rallied to work around this with support from the Bumblebee Open Source Project http://bumblebee-project.org/. And as a result, we've recently made Installer and readme changes in our R295 drivers that were designed to make interaction with Bumblebee easier.

If Bumblebee was dangerous, there should be a lot complaints from users. However, this is not the case so you may assume that Bumblebee is safe.

Currently, Bumblebee consists of two parts:

  1. allowing you to use the nvidia card using the optirun program
  2. disabling the nvidia video card when the card is not in use

The first feature is as safe as the nvidia driver. Aside from an extra (software) layer, the process is equal to systems with a nvidia card as primary card.

The second feature uses a custom kernel module, bbswitch, which interacts with the ACPI subsystem. When using bbswitch in combination with Bumblebee, the card is disabled on boot and enabled on shutdown. As an author of the bbswitch module, I have not received any signals of hardware damage when using bbswitch in combination with Bumblebee.

When using bbswitch without Bumblebee, one must take care of enabling the card on shutdown for some machines. This can be done by sending the OFF command to the bbswitch module. If this is not done, some machines could make the nvidia card disappear on the next boot. On some machines, this can be undone by pulling the power off the machine. Others need a BIOS reset. Again, this only occurs when using bbswitch without Bumblebee or when using bbswitch only without special measures. A bugreport for this issue can be found on https://github.com/Bumblebee-Project/Bumblebee/issues/224

The same issues from laptops with a nvidia card as primary video card may apply. This means that laptops with a bad thermal design may overheat when putting the nvidia card under heavy load. This is not an issue limited to Bumblebee though.

share|improve this answer

I'm using it myself and never had any problems. I know some other people who use it and neither of them had problems.

Sadly it is never save to say that a software can't harm your system. There can always be a hidden bug that does something terribly wrong. That's why even a developer of a software can't tell you that it is certainly safe to use.

My personal assessment is that damage to your hardware is very very unlikely because all the hardware critical stuff (e.g. power management) is, to my understanding, done by the official nvidia driver. I guess the worst case that could happen is that your X-server config gets broken. But there is no downside of bumblebee I have heard of so far.

This might not be a definite answer but I'm posting it anyway because like I said I think a definite one is not possible.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.