Arcan: A New Open-Source Display Server Built Atop A Game Engine

Written by Michael Larabel in Free Software on 30 May 2016 at 08:37 AM EDT. 17 Comments
What happens when a game engine meets a display server meets a multimedia framework? Oh yeah and whereby the behavior is controlled with Lua. No, it's not a joke, just the latest creation in the open-source world. Say hello to Arcan as a new Linux display server.

Arcan is a portable display server "built on the corpse of a game engine", according to the project's lead developer, Björn Ståhl. Björn wrote into Phoronix today for sharing this project he's been working on for the past five years publicly, but some of the code dates back 13 years. This display server has been a labor of love and he's got it working with the AMDGPU driver, 4K displays, etc, so finally now he feels it's ready for more people to try out.

This display server built atop a game engine is "competent enough to develop quite heavy apps", according to Björn. All of the behavior for the display server can be controlled via Lua scripts. This display server should work with the modern open-source Linux graphics drivers as it runs natively atop Linux with EGL/KMS support. He's also written some basic support for EGLStreams so it should work with the latest NVIDIA drivers too -- EGLStreams being the approach NVIDIA is still pushing for Wayland.

For showing off Arcan, a fully-working tiling manager called "Durden" was created as part of this. Arcan is mostly BSD licensed.

Those wishing to learn more about the Arcan display server project can visit ths web page.
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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 20,000 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, LinkedIn, or contacted via

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