So here is the problem: using SDL, under GNU/Linux, you can’t compete
with the Windows target in terms of performance for hi-resolution 2D
applications. At least on my machine, which is quite a common one
anyway (someone who managed to take advantage of his hardware in this
case, please show up). And it’s a fact that there are no (or very few)
such gfx-intensive game using SDL that exists and run on Linux. This is
quite serious, because whenever you want to make a graphics-intensive,
high resolution 2D game using SDL, you end up with only the Windows
target usuable. It’s really sad that I can decently use only one target
with a cross-platform library… The fact is that ressources SDL can
take advantage of does exist under GNU/Linux, but doesn’t seems to be
AFAIK, the real problem is that there are no useful features to exploit.
Sure, it would be nice if surfaces could be sent to the X server and
blitted by the X server (usually h/w accelerated) - but that would
probably only work in some special cases.
(Anyway, the latest stuff in XFree 4.1.x might change this, but I’m not
enough into it to tell.)
What we really need, the way the SDL API is designed, is asynchronous DMA
transfers from system RAM to VRAM - at least, that’s the easiest and most
flexible solution. It’s also a driver issue; nothing SDL can do much
For example, a while ago David Olofson talked about an OpenGL target
hack he made for Kobo. Having tested it with Kobo, I can say it works
flawlessly - when the resolution raises, the frame rate becomes much
higher than the X11 software target. In short, it’s always fast when
any other target fall on the knees. But trying to use it on my project,
it unfortunately fails.
Why? It’s important to realize that glSDL is a source level wrapper. You
should not use any of the glSDL_* calls explicitly, but rather just
include glSDL.h instead of SDL.h and recompile. Exceptions:
* You need to | SDL_GLSDL to the flags to SDL_SetVideoMode(),
or glSDL will just pass everything on to "standard SDL."
* glSDL uses an unused field (left in for binary compatibility)
in the SDL_Surface struct. Since SDL doesn't initialize this
field, you *MUST* use the GLSDL_FIX_SURFACE() macro on any
surfaces you get from other libraries, such as SDL_image. If
you don't, expect weird things to happen, as glSDL assumes
that any other value than -1 in that field is a "TexInfo"
handle. (In older versions, it was a pointer, which was even
The idea is that everything that works with SDL should work with glSDL -
although some operations will be slow, as a result of some insufficient
information being passed from the application. (For example, I’d really
like it if an SDL_Rect could be passed to SDL_LockSurface(), specifying
which are will be accessed. Would make occasional software rendering into
the “frame buffer” possible without killing the frame rate.)
As to the current state of glSDL, right now, you can’t:
* Lock the screen surface, for software rendering directly
to the screen. (You *can* lock surfaces, though - and
their textures will be updated as you unlock. That is,
"software rendering into SDL_Surfaces" transparently
becomes "procedural OpenGL textures".)
* Blit from the screen into surfaces.
* Blit from one rect to another in the screen surface.
* Use surfaces that cannot be tiled and squeezed into
the area of a single texture. (You *can* use surfaces
that are much wider or much taller, as long as the
total *area* fits in an OpenGL texture.)
That’s pretty much it. Barring any bugs not known yet, everything else
should work - that is, basically everything that’s compatible with
"primarilly h/w accelerated rendering", including procedural textures.
Anyway, such a target is very interesting: why
not trying to tune it and include it into the main SDL tree?
That’s the idea. I’m just too busy hacking other stuff in Kobo Deluxe,
takeing care of my two sons (got another one 20020211) and other stuff,
and so far, I know of only one active glSDL user - although one who
does send bug reports and fixes every now and then.
solve all the above raised problems as OpenGL is the target that
supports the most acceleration cards under Linux: for most cards it
would rely on DRI, while for NVidia cards it would use the NVidia
drivers. It works directly under X11 (the most used target under
Linux), without any further configuration. It could even bring
acceleration to platforms others than Linux, as OpenGL itself is
portable. In short, it’s IMO The Right Thing To Do ©.
Well, you just about listed the major motivations behind glSDL. Indeed,
there are performance issues that are practically impossible to avoid
without changing the SDL API slightly - but most SDL applications should
get the full performance boost with few, if any changes. (The idea is
that th final version should be an SDL backend, so it better allow
applications to at least run without even recompiling…)
There are others exploitable ressources too, like DRI or DirectFB, but
they would be limited to certain cards, while every accelerated card
under Linux does support OpenGL.
Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Of accelerated targets, OpenGL is by far
the most powerful (alpha blending is just the beginning). As a result of
the 3D gaming industry, it probably also has the fastest drivers.
Besides, glSDL beats the crap out of SDL_OPENGLBLIT if you really don’t
want to code the 2D stuff in your 3D games in OpenGL.
SDL is mainly a 2D graphics platform, as it rely on OpenGL for 3D
rendering. Therefore, it should be unbeatable when it comes to 2D
graphics - and it can well be. I might be wrong, but it seems to me
that some others Linux graphics library (Clanlib for example) does
provide such a target. Is SDL late in that respect?
Dunno. I honestly haven’t even looked into what targets those libraries
support, or how they do it.
Anyway, the fact than SDL relies on OpenGL for 3D has very little to do
with the 2D part. You don’t even have to compile the OpenGL support in,
or have OpenGL to use the current 2D stuff! Thus, SDL cannot depend on it
internally. And there are still many systems out there with no OpenGL
support, or flaky OpenGL support that isn’t really usable for 2D
That is, it’s very hard to do anything for the users without decent
OpenGL support - but IMHO, that’s not a reason for SDL ignoring those who
See you all and sorry for the long mail!
Note: Re-reading my mail, I realise it might sound a bit offensive and
critical, but don’t get me wrong: I just love SDL and am not attempting
to launch a troll or anything. I just feel like there is a weakness at
this precise point, and that it can easily be filled.
Well, if you look at the glSDL code, you’ll realize that maybe it’s not
But OTOH, I’ve already solved most of the problems that can be solved
without API changes, so… I’m planning to release Kobo Deluxe 0.4 soon,
and after that, I’ll look into cleaning up the source some more, and more
interestingly, splitting the “internal sub-projects” off, to live their
The projects I’m talking about are:
* The Spitfire Engine
* "Transparent" interpolated control system to
video frame rate conversion. (Always utilize
the full frame rate without tricky frame rate
dependent control code.)
* Includes simple window oriented graphics
library with "smart refreshing", background
images and other handy features.
* Graphics management system with plugin based
image processing system. Splits images up in
tiles or sprites, scales using various filters,
adjusts and cleans alpha channels and more...
* EEL - the Extensible Embeddable Language
* Simple, readable C/Pascal/BASIC hybrid syntax.
* Dynamic typing - variables take type *and*
value during assignment.
* Expression evaluation that handles parentheses
and operator precedence.
* Functions and procedures.
* External files can be executed from within
* Very simple API for language extensions.
* Language extensions can add *constructs*, not
just native code procedures and functions.
* Language extensions can add new operators.
* 100% ANSI C code! No external tools needed.
Planned or in progress:
* Types and "supported type lists" in
argument lists of function and
* Support for "fixed type variables",
for faster execution and load or
compile time type checking.
* "Source compressor" - strips and
tokenizes EEL source code, to save
* Semi-compiling, for faster execution.
* The Kobo Deluxe Audio Engine (no real name yet)
* Software synth with dynamic voice allocation.
* Scalable in performance/quality from "nearest
sample" through adaptive interpolation, using
cubic (4 point) interpolation or linear
interpolation w/ oversampling, depending on
in/out sample ratio.
* Three voice allocation/control modes; "Mono",
"Poly" and "Detach", suitable for monophonic
instruments, polyphonic instruments and sound
* Bus mixing architecture with insert plugin
support and fully configurable routing,
including sends from bus to bus, and sends
between each insert effect.
* Simple "Waveform Construction API", that lets
you render sound effects using a few simple
* Uses EEL to make the waveform contruction API
scriptable. This results in a way of creating
*very* compact sounds - a few hundred bytes
for rather nice instrumental sounds, as human
readable source with comments.
* External MIDI input for real time playing.
* Internal MIDI sequencer.
* MIDI sequences can be played as waveforms!
(Within a few days, MIDI files will actually
be able to use other MIDI files as
"instruments", modulating their pitch,
velocity and so on.)
* Wave files, raw audio files, MIDI files and
EEL (or rather AGW) scripts can be loaded
using the same call, and can be played and
modulated as if they were all the same thing.
* Compile SDL programs to optionally run on
top of OpenGL.
* Automatically tiles surfaces to fit in OpenGL
* Uses OpenGL blending for alpha and colorkeying.
* Supports using surfaces as procedural textures,
for efficient software rendering in combination
with h/w acceleration.
Planned, or "probably broken right now":
* Locking of the screen surface.
* Blitting from and within the screen.
* Minor optional API extensions to boost
performance of some operations. (Could
be of use to other targets as well.)
* Transparent scaling from arbitrary
resolutions to the screen resolution.
(For emulation of unsupported
resolutions in fullscreen mode.)
* Make it an SDL rendering backend!
There are some other smaller things that might be of general use as well,
such as the platform independent “filemapper” class, and the stack based
"state manager" that I’m using to keep track of the various screens and
states of the whole game. Probably others as well… I’ll filter them out
as I’m cleaning up, but only the 4 above will become stand-alone
libraries - the smaller ones are just headers and (sometimes) C files, so
I’ll release them like that, to be pasted into projects.
Oh, and it’s all LGPL, or at least will be - I’m still waiting for a
response regarding the remaining GPLed parts of the audio engine. (I
never actually deleted the original audio engine files, although most,
if not all, of that code is gone by now.)
(Note that the game is GPL just like the original XKobo - not LGPL.
Only the code that I’ve hacked from scratch, or borrowed from other
projects is LGPLed.)
//David Olofson — Programmer, Reologica Instruments AB
.- M A I A -------------------------------------------------.
| Multimedia Application Integration Architecture |
| A Free/Open Source Plugin API for Professional Multimedia |
----------------------------> http://www.linuxdj.com/maia -' .- David Olofson -------------------------------------------. | Audio Hacker - Open Source Advocate - Singer - Songwriter |-------------------------------------> http://olofson.net -'On Sunday 17 February 2002 11:12, Alexandre Courbot wrote: