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bbswitch is a kernel module which automatically detects the required ACPI calls for two kinds of Optimus laptops. It has been verified to work with "real" Optimus and "legacy" Optimus laptops (at least, that is how I call them). The machines on which these tests has performed are:

  • Clevo B7130 - GT 425M ("real" Optimus, Lekensteyns laptop)
  • Dell Vostro 3500 - GT 310M ("legacy" Optimus, Samsagax' laptop)

(note: there is no need to add more supported laptops here as the universal calls should work for every laptop model supporting either Optimus calls)

It's preferred over manually hacking with the acpi_call module because it can detect the correct handle preceding _DSM and has some built-in safeguards:

  • You're not allowed to disable a card if a driver (nouveau, nvidia) is loaded.
  • Before suspend, the card is automatically enabled. When resuming, it's disabled again if that was the case before suspending. Hibernation should work, but it not tested.


Build the module (kernel headers are required):


Then load it (requires root privileges, i.e. sudo):

make load

If your card is supported, there should be no error. Otherwise, you get a "No such device" (ENODEV) error. Check your kernel log (dmesg) for more information.

DKMS support

Change #MODULE_VERSION# to the current version of bbswitch. Copy the Makefile, C source and dkms.conf file to /usr/src/bbswitch-VERSION/ (replace VERSION with the current version of bbswitch which has been inserted for #MODULE_VERSION#.


bbswitch has three commands to check the card status and switching (# means "run with root privileges, i.e. run it prefixed with sudo):

Get the status:

# cat /proc/acpi/bbswitch  
0000:01:00.0 ON

Turn the card off, respectively on:

# tee /proc/acpi/bbswitch <<<OFF
# tee /proc/acpi/bbswitch <<<ON

If the card stays on when trying to disable it, you've probably forgotten to unload the driver,

$ dmesg |tail -1
bbswitch: device 0000:01:00.0 is in use by driver 'nouveau', refusing OFF

Do not attempt to load a driver while the card is off or the card won't be usable until the PCI configuration space has been recovered (for example, after writing the contents manually or rebooting).

Module options

The module has some options that control the behavior on loading and unloading: load_state and unload_state. Valid values are -1, 0 and 1 meaning "do not change the card state", "turn the card off" and "turn the card on" respectively. For example, if you want to have bbswitch disable the card immediately when loading the module while disabling the card on unload, load the module with:

# modprobe bbswitch load_state=0 unload_state=1

The unload_state value can be changed on runtime, the above command yields the same behavior as:

# modprobe bbswitch load_state=0
# echo 1 | tee /sys/module/bbswitch/parameters/unload_state

If not explictly set, the default behavior is not to change the power state of the discrete video card which equals to load_state=-1 unload_state=-1.

Disable card on boot

These options can be useful to disable the card on boot time. Depending on your distribution, /etc/modules, /etc/modules.conf or some other file can be used to load modules on boot time. Adding the below line to the file makes the card get disabled on boot:

bbswitch load_state=0

You have to update your initial ramdisk (initrd) for the changes propagate to the boot process. On Debian and Ubuntu, this can performed by running update-initramfs -u as root.

Reporting bugs

This module has been integrated in Bumblebee "Tumbleweed". Please report any issues on this module in the issue tracker and provide the following details:

  • The output of dmesg | grep -C 10 bbswitch:
  • The kernel version uname -a
  • Your distribution and version (if applicable)
  • The version of your Xorg and the driver
  • Submit your machine information on; the instructions are listed in the bug description. Summary: install the packages containing dmidecode, acpidump and iasl and then run:

  • Information about the ACPI handles associated with PCI devices. Since this is a kernel module, you'll need kernel headers, gcc and automake. Commands:

      git clone git:// --depth 1
      cd acpi-stuff/acpi_dump_info
      sudo make load
      cat /proc/acpi/dump_info

Upload the generated tarball on the above Launchpad URL and provide a link to the comment containing your report.

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