Cura Failed to Probe OpenGL (Could Not Probe OpenGL) Error

While Cura is a pretty reliable piece of software, as evidenced by the fact that it’s one of the most popular slicers available to the 3D printing community right now, you can, just as with practically any other software, come across software bugs that prevent you from using Cura in some cases.

In this guide, we will explain the meaning of the “Failed to Probe OpenGL” (Could Not Probe OpenGL) error, which entirely prevents Cura from launching, go through the potential causes behind the occurrence of this problem, and discuss solution alternatives to fix it as effortlessly as possible.

What Is the Meaning of the Cura Failed to Probe OpenGL / Could Not Probe OpenGL Error?

While we can all agree that the sentence “Failed to Probe OpenGL” doesn’t really say much if you haven’t heard of OpenGL before, the error message is, fortunately, pretty clear-cut if you know what OpenGL is and points us in the right direction for a solution.

failed to probe opengl cura error


To explain things in the simplest way possible, the “Failed to Probe OpenGL” error message tells us that Cura is not able to access the OpenGL drivers (which is a software component that’s necessary for Cura to run) on your computer and due to this, is unable to run until you resolve the problem.

For those who aren’t familiar, we can quickly describe OpenGL as a programming interface that makes it possible for software, such as Cura, to communicate with the graphics hardware on your computer and render graphics on the screen, such as the preview of the 3D model you have imported for slicing.

Cura Failed to Probe OpenGL / Could Not Probe OpenGL Error – Causes & Fixes

As there are a few distinct potential causes behind the appearance of the “Failed to Probe OpenGL” error when you try to run Cura, finding out what’s causing the problem in your case and fixing it will require some trial and error.

OpenGL Drivers Not Installed or Outdated

The first possible cause that comes to mind regarding the occurrence of the “Failed to Probe OpenGL” error is the OpenGL drivers either being missing or outdated, and even though this isn’t too likely on a regularly-used and up-to-date system, it’s still something we recommend verifying to rule the possibility out.

According to the Cura support pages, the minimum required OpenGL version for Cura to run is OpenGL 2, and the recommended version, which makes it possible to use the 3D layer view functionality, is OpenGL 4.1.

To quickly find out the OpenGL version your computer is currently using on Windows and MacOS, you can use an application called GLview (also known as OpenGL Extension Viewer), which, alongside the version, will also give you more detail regarding the OpenGL implementation on your computer if you’re interested.

Please note that we aren’t related to the GLview (OpenGL Extension Viewer) software in any shape or form, and we recommend using the software at your own risk.

glview opengl version check on windows


On the other hand, if you’re on Linux, you can use the glxinfo (glxinfo | grep version for easier viewing) tool through the Terminal, which should output the OpenGL version your computer has installed on it next to the entry labeled OpenGL core profile version.

glxinfo opengl version check on linux


In a case where the OpenGL drivers don’t exist at all, or the version is below OpenGL 2 (should be pretty unlikely), you can obtain the latest OpenGL drivers that your graphics hardware support by installing the up-to-date driver bundle (the bundle will automatically install OpenGL drivers) for your GPU, whether it’s AMD, Nvidia, or Intel, and solve the problem you’re facing.

If you’re a Linux user and come across this issue despite your OpenGL drivers being installed and up-to-date, we highly recommend ensuring that you have tried both the Linux 64-bit and the Linux-Modern 64-bit versions of Cura (as noted in the Cura support pages as well), before looking for the issue elsewhere, since the modern version is created for newer versions of Linux (2022+) in mind, and can solve this problem.

cura linux appimage options


Additionally, regardless of the operating system you’re using, it can also be helpful to try installing one of the older Cura versions if you seem to be running out of solutions, especially if you’re using an older, unsupported version of the operating system, as this can resolve compatibility issues in some cases and get things to work.

User Account Privileges Blocking Cura From Accessing OpenGL (Windows)

If you’re using Windows, another possible cause behind the appearance of this error is the user account privileges being insufficient, which essentially means that the account you’re utilizing to access the computer does not have the permissions to allow Cura to access the OpenGL drivers, even if installed.

Such a problem is especially likely to be the case if the computer you’re using is not a personal one, such as a work laptop or a library computer, as the user privileges in such a case can be pretty limited and make it impossible to run practically anything not permitted by the administrator specifically, in which case there won’t be a whole lot to do.

On the other hand, if you’re on a personal computer, our primary recommendation would be to try to run Cura as administrator (Right Click -> Run as Administrator), which should solve any possible issues regarding user account permissions, and run Cura with elevated privileges that will allow it to access OpenGL drivers without problems.

running cura as admin on windows


As the permissions that applications run with can vary based on the configuration, even when you log in with an administrator account, using the “Run as Administrator” option is the only way to guarantee that an application runs with full administrator privileges, which is why the behavior of the application can be different when ran as such even if you’re already an administrator.

Incorrect Graphics Adapter Selection

If you’re a laptop user, there’s a good chance that your laptop comes with both an integrated and a discrete graphics card, where the discrete graphics card is more powerful and most likely has support for a higher version of OpenGL than the integrated one.

So, in a case where the integrated graphics card of your laptop doesn’t support OpenGL 2, but the discrete graphics card does, and you end up running Cura with the integrated graphics card, you can come across this problem even though your computer has the necessary hardware to run Cura without issues.

windows integrated discrete gpu selection example


It’s even possible to find an example of a similar case on the Ultimaker support forums, where one user had a laptop with Intel HD 3000 Graphics as its integrated GPU, which supports OpenGL 3.1, and GeForce 940M as its discrete GPU, which supports OpenGL 4.6.

In this case, Cura would run regardless of the GPU selected due to both GPUs supporting OpenGL 2+, but the 3D layer viewing functionality, which requires OpenGL 4.1, would only be usable on the discrete GPU, whereas the integrated GPU would have to run Cura without this functionality active.

To switch between the graphics card on a laptop with a discrete AMD GPU, you can follow the guide for this process on AMD’s official support pages, which will allow you to try running Cura on both options.

Similarly, if your laptop has a discrete Nvidia GPU, a guide that’ll take you through the process of switching between GPUs is available on Nvidia’s official support pages, which, once again, will allow you to choose either the integrated or the discrete GPU for running Cura.

Finally, even in a scenario where both the integrated and the discrete cards of your laptop support OpenGL 2, switching to the other graphics card can (even if it’s the weaker integrated graphics card) be something worth trying to solve the problem you’re facing (especially if you’re running out of options), as it’s possible for a software bug that prevents the OpenGL support from working as intended for the graphics card you’re using to run Cura not to occur with the other option.

GPU Rendering Unavailable

GPU rendering being unavailable is a problem you can commonly face when using a virtual machine (such as Windows running on VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation, etc.) or a virtual desktop application (such as Remote Desktop Protocol), which would naturally mean that Cura won’t have access to OpenGL.

As the process of fixing this problem depends on the virtual machine or desktop application you’re using, our recommendation, in this case, would be to find out whether this is indeed the case for the particular software you’re using first and see whether it’s possible to do anything about it afterward.

For instance, the highest available OpenGL version for a guest operating system running on a VirtualBox instance with 3D acceleration enabled and the Guest Additions toolkit installed is OpenGL 2.1 (OpenGL 1.1 without Guest Additions, meaning that Cura won’t run at all in this case), which would only be enough to run Cura without the 3D layer view functionality.

glxinfo opengl version check on ubuntu with default 3d acceleration


On the other hand, installing Mesa drivers makes it possible to get OpenGL 4.5 support on VirtualBox, and while this won’t allow you to use hardware acceleration (you’ll need to deactivate 3D acceleration for the Mesa drivers to work), the software renderer has been more than enough to run Cura without issues during our tests.

running cura on virtualbox with mesa drivers

With that said, if you’re looking for a more straightforward solution to run Cura on a virtual machine at the expense of having to pay for it, we recommend considering VMWare Workstation Pro, which, according to their documentation, supports OpenGL 4.1 and OpenGL 4.3 out of the box.

Similarly, when it comes to a virtual desktop application, we can use the Remote Desktop Protocol from Microsoft as an example, which is known not to support GPU rendering, and because of this, cannot be used to run Cura with the default settings, as no GPU rendering means no OpenGL access.

Fortunately, there’s a tweak that makes it possible to get around this limitation and enable GPU rendering on Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol as well, which you can apply by following the guide here.

At the end of the day, while it can be possible to get rid of this particular error and run Cura on a virtual machine or virtual desktop application with some tweaks, Ultimaker explicitly states that Cura is incompatible with Chrome OS, virtual environments, and virtual machines on their support pages, which is also something we recommend keeping in mind when going down this route, as you may face additional problems.

OpenGL Unsupported by Graphics Hardware (or Bugged Due to Software Incompatibilities)

While it’s pretty unlikely for any modern graphics hardware not to support at least OpenGL 2 (OpenGL 4.1+ required for 3D layer view), which is the bare minimum for Cura to work, this can easily be the case if you’re using legacy hardware (15-20+ years old), or if a software bug is preventing the OpenGL capabilities of your graphics hardware from operating as intended.

So, if the hardware you’re using is on the older side, our first recommendation would be to find your graphics card’s specifications and see whether it supports OpenGL.

For instance, if you’re using Intel Graphics, you can find a compatibility table where you can see the supported DirectX, OpenGL, OpenCL, and Vulkan versions for each of the graphics hardware Intel has released on Intel’s support pages.

intel discrete graphics opengl support chart example


Similarly, for Nvidia’s GeForce GPUs, you can visit the Wikipedia page of the series that your card belongs to, which will tell you the OpenGL version it supports.

geforce 40 series api support example


If you have confirmed that your graphics hardware indeed supports OpenGL, the next step would be to find out whether there’s a known bug that can prevent OpenGL from working as intended, whether it’s due to the usage of a specific operating system, driver version, or a combination of the two (possibly including the graphics hardware itself as well).

For instance, there is a commonly encountered problem that affects Intel HD Graphics 3000 series cards on Windows 10, where Windows doesn’t expose the full OpenGL capabilities of this graphics card, and due to this, the version of OpenGL is limited to 1.1 in this case, even though the card itself supports OpenGL 3.1.

While it would practically be impossible for us to tell you what could be causing such an issue (if it even exists) without knowing details such as the hardware and the operating system you’re using, you should be able to find related info with a few quick searches on the Internet if there’s indeed a widespread problem that many people has experienced before you, such as the example above.

Conclusion

While it can be frustrating to come across a situation where Cura refuses to launch and practically makes it impossible to make use of your 3D printer for the time being, fixing the “Failed to Probe OpenGL” error or finding a workaround for it is usually a breeze once you have a good understanding of the factors that can create the problem.

As the fix is as simple as updating graphics card drivers or solving simple compatibility issues in most cases, which shouldn’t require too much technical expertise, you should be able to get Cura up and running in no time and get back to enjoying your 3D printer without too much trouble.