Atari Open-Source Linux DRM Graphics Driver Being Worked On In 2022

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Kernel on 9 July 2022 at 10:00 AM EDT. 11 Comments
In addition to the OpenChrome DRM/KMS driver hoping to be finally mainlined in 2022 for supporting aging VIA graphics hardware from the long-ago days of their x86 chipsets, separately there is a DRM/KMS kernel driver in the works for something even older... A Linux DRM graphics driver for the Atari Falcon from the early 90's.

Over the past two years a DRM driver has been in the works for the Atari graphics hardware with its built-in graphics chipset. This is not to be confused with the 2021-launched Atari VCS mini PC / game console, but the Atari Falcon personal computers out of the Atari Corporation from the early 90's that featured Motorola 68000 series processors and a programmable video controller.

This Atari Direct Rendering Manager (DRM) driver though was developed and tested using ARAnyM, a virtual machine that is designed for running 32-bit Atari ST/TT/Falcon operating systems (TOS, FreeMiNT, MagiC and Linux-m68k) and TOS/GEM applications on any kind of hardware. This DRM driver doesn't appear to have been tested on any physical Atari hardware.

ARAnyM is short for "Atari Running on Any Machine."
ARAnyM is not meant as an emulator of Atari Falcon (even though it has a rather high Falcon software compatibility and includes most of Falcon custom chips including VIDEL and DSP). ARAnyM is better in the sense that it's not tied to specification of an existing Atari machine so we were free to select the most complete CPU (68040 with MMU) and FPU (68882), add loads of RAM (up to 4 GB), host accelerated graphics (even with OpenGL) and direct access to various host resources including sound, disk drives, optical storage devices (CD/DVD-ROMs), parallel port and more.

This DRM driver is based in part on "atafb.c", a basic frame-buffer driver in the Linux kernel that dates back to the 90's as an Atari frame-buffer device driver.

Working on this driver has resulted in making improvements to DRM core code such as low-color frame-buffer formats support for the old hardware.

The Atari DRM driver is nearly 5,000 lines of code plus there are various other fixes/changes to other kernel code for accommodating this vintage graphics hardware support.

Should you be interested in the Atari DRM kernel driver, it's currently in the works via the atari-drm-wip branch by Linux m68k (Motorola 68000) maintainer Geert Uytterhoeven. We'll see if/when this Atari DRM driver is sent into Linus Torvalds for mainlining...
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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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