Mesa's GLSL Compiler Has Been Made To Stand Alone
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 10 September 2013 at 07:54 PM EDT. 3 Comments
Ian Romanick of Intel has restored work on having a standalone Mesa GLSL compiler separate from the rest of the Mesa implementation. The purpose of this standalone compiler is largely for testing purposes by OpenGL game/application developers in trying to verify/validate behavior and be independent of the specific Mesa drivers.

To provide for easy testing of the Mesa GLSL compiler while being separate from the rest of Mesa driver implementations, Ian has re-separated the compiler into a standalone compiler branch. The Mesa compiler tends to try to conform to the upstream Khronos Group specifications as much as possible, so with making the compiler stand on its own it's trying to become somewhat of the reference implementation and to serve as a "GLSL Lint" implementation.

Aside from sticking as close as possible to the published specifications, the Mesa GLSL compiler is good for being able to build on many different operating systems / platforms and will hopefully allow third-parties to better determine whether there's a problem in their own GLSL shader or a driver behavior problem. The only downside, of course, is that Mesa's GLSL support is still a fair ways away from matching the latest upstream Khronos specification -- there's nearly the GLSL support to match OpenGL 3.3, but most of the GLSL changes for the GL 4.x specifications remains to be implemented.

For more details on this standalone compiler work to assist OpenGL game/application developers, read Ian's blog post.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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