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Monthly Linux Gaming News - January 2020

Mr. Doomguy

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First things first, apologies for the delay of making this monthly news since i've had some life stuff to do. With that behind, let's get started to talk about what happened in January 2020 regarding the Linux gaming.


Mesa 20.0 has reached the freeze state and more goodies added

Right off the bat, Mesa, an open source GPU driver library has reached the freezing state and started releasing RC versions, at this point no new features will be added besides bug fixes, luckily at the last week before entering that state it received more features:

* OpenGL 4.6 and NIR support enabled for AMD GPUs that use RadeonSI, one of AMD's Gallium3D driver primarily supported by GCN and newer architecture.

* Intel's new Gallium3D driver for Broadwell „Gen8” gpus and newer has been enabled by default, which allows you to take advantage of Gallium3D features such as the HUD and perhaps even Gallium Nine which is primarily used for Windows games that use Direct3D 9, allowing for a native performance without translating it to OpenGL (Requires Wine Nine Config installed)

* Vulkan 1.2 support for both ANV and RadV drivers, former for Intel and latter for AMD.

* NGG geometry support being re-enabled for RX 5700 series (and perhaps for any Navi GPUs), was previously disabled for the sake of taking care of bugs that were difficult to fix.

* Valve's ACO for AMD has received a support for GCN 1.0 GPUs, according to Phoronix article it provides slightly better framerate, besides just lowering the shader compiling time dramatically. All that is left is for ACO to support tesselation shaders and OpenGL, after that it'll be most likely a bye-bye to LLVM.

Mesa 20.0 will receive a stable release in late February or perhaps even in early March, depending on how many bugs it needs to be fixed before the release.

NVIDIA ends 340 driver support, 390 will be next in line

The time has reached for 340 legacy driver support to end, which according to NVIDIA it's last supported XOrg is 1.20 and the 5.4 Linux kernel, albeit it can be patched to use newer kernels instead. Fermi GPUs that use 390 legacy driver will have their support end in 2022

Wine 5.0 has been released + a surprise

Wine 5.0 has left the freezing state for the sake of bug fixes and received a stable release. Despite mentioning a few major features such as:
* Multi monitor support
* Vulkan 1.1 support

* XAudio 2 reimplementation

*Builtin modules in PE format

There is more where that comes from, one such thing being support for S3TC texture compression, fleshed out support for Windows Media Foundation, MSI installer support, for more see the changelog list

Besides that, we've gotten a new surprise from Codeweavers which they are coming back to work on Vulkan implementation of WineD3D, which last year didn't go anywhere. Looks like DXVK will have a competition here.

Valve works on a new compositor called Gamescope, aimed to replace Steam Compositor

It seems that Valve has began on reworking their compositor for desktop environment that was primarily used for SteamOS called, Steam Compositor. This time they decide to aim higher by making it not only to use Wayland only, but combine that with Vulkan instead. Here is a more detailed information from it's readme file:


In an embedded session usecase, gamescope does the same thing as steamcompmgr, but with less extra copies and latency:

  • It's getting game frames through Wayland by way of Xwayland, so there's no copy within X itself before it gets the frame.
  • It can use DRM/KMS to directly flip game frames to the screen, even when stretching or when notifications are up, removing another copy.
  • When it does need to composite with the GPU, it does so with async Vulkan compute, meaning you get to see your frame quick even if the game already has the GPU busy with the next frame.

It also runs on top of a regular desktop, the 'nested' usecase steamcompmgr didn't support.

  • Because the game is running in its own personal Xwayland sandbox desktop, it can't interfere with your desktop and your desktop can't interfere with it.
  • You can spoof a virtual screen with a desired resolution and refresh rate as the only thing the game sees, and control/resize the output as needed. This can be useful in exotic display configurations like ultrawide or multi-monitor setups that involve rotation.

This is rather an interesting project overall, sadly NVIDIA users will not be able to use it mostly due to the company not having much interest in improving Wayland and XWayland support. Last time i remember using GTX 970 on Wayland, it couldn't do Vulkan as it was missing an extension for it in their proprietary driver. So for now AMD and probably even Intel users will be able to use it.

The git repo of this project can be found here.

VKBasalt 0.3 has been released, supports shaders from ReShade now

For all of you folks who like to play around with shaders from ReShade, but miss using it on Linux have a chance to use it now. VKBasalt dev along with the creator of ReShade worked together to provide support for it in this 0.3 release. VKBasalt 1st started off as a new way of adding sharpening filter similar to AMD's Image Sharpening feature in Windows but works only for native Linux games that use Vulkan or Windows games through projects like DXVK on Wine/Proton. More about this can be found in it's project page

Besides all these major news here is what was going on around on Linux gaming overall:

* DXVK last release in that month was 1.5.3

* Proton 4.11-12 was released

* Steam survey from December 2019 used to show 0.63% of active Linux users, however there was an issue similar to the last year which over-counted Windows 7 users from China. The real value was 0.83%. Right now the market share as of January 2020 is now 0.90% and keeps raising.

* Linux kernel 5.5 has received a stable release (overview here), work on 5.6 has begun and currently reached the release candidate.

Previous Monthly Linux Gaming News


November 2019

December 2019

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