Linux Still Needs Better OpenGL Debugging Support
Written by Michael Larabel in Mesa on 18 September 2013 at 03:46 PM EDT. 2 Comments
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Intel's Ian Romanick will take to the Linux Plumbers Conference tomorrow with a plea to work together to provide better capabilities across the Linux stack for better debugging and profiling of graphics applications/systems on Linux. The open-source Intel Linux Mesa developer himself calls the current graphics debugging situation on Linux a "disaster" to be fixed.

It's long been known, especially since Valve's been talking about it, that OpenGL debugging support could be vastly improved for Linux. There's much better support found on Windows with different Windows-only OpenGL debugging programs and more advanced debugging support found within the proprietary AMD and NVIDIA graphics drivers. It's easy there to detect bottlenecks in your game/application/driver, easier to find problematic code-paths, etc. Ian Romanick is calling on Linux developers to change the situation.

He's hoping for new kernel interfaces and other changes to allow for finer-grained data about the execution of commands on the GPU and system level data with semantic information to help debugging. While open-source driver support is their main focus, he hopes the interfaces will also work for the closed-source graphics drivers too.

Ian laid out the plans for his LPC talk tomorrow in this blog post.

For OpenGL/graphics debugging on Linux among the current user-space solutions are AMD's gDebugger as a popular solution, the popular open-source APITrace, and others. The Phoronix Test Suite also has various performance monitoring characteristics built in too that can be exposed for any test profile.

Besides Valve's interest in better graphics analyzing and debugging, they also feel Linux is lacking when it comes to debugging support overall. Valve is heavily interested (and investing in) LLVM's LLDB and they are also working on a new Linux game debugger in cooperation with RAD Games Tools. Gabe Newell also reaffirmed Linux's debugging shortcomings at his Linux gaming keynote this week from LinuxCon.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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