It's Easy Trying Out Intel's OpenGL 4.2 Mesa Driver On Ubuntu 16.04

Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 17 May 2016 at 08:59 PM EDT. 6 Comments
With today marking the milestone of Intel's Mesa driver jumping ahead to OpenGL 4.2 compliance after just yesterday hitting OpenGL 4.0, I decided to try out the Mesa Git code of the i965 driver on an Ubuntu 16.04 system.

For doing some initial tests, I fired up the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop with Core i7 5600U "Broadwell" processor. This OpenGL 4.0+ support for Mesa 11.3/12.0 requires Broadwell or newer. It will not be until the follow-on Mesa release around September before there's support for Haswell and friends in the GL4 space.

While Ubuntu 16.04 will be sticking with Mesa 11.2 until Ubuntu 16.04.2 LTS as a point release with hardware enablement backports from Ubuntu 16.10, it's easy getting this newer Mesa code anyways... The long-standing Oibaf Launchpad PPA has fresh Mesa 11.3-dev Git snapshots as of today for accessing the Intel OpenGL 4.2 support on capable hardware. As of writing this article, the Padoka PPA -- another common source for getting up-to-date open-source user-space graphics driver components on Ubuntu -- didn't yet have a recent enough snapshot.

So with a simple apt-add-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers && apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade, my Intel Broadwell ultrabook was finally having OpenGL 4.2 support atop Ubuntu 16.04! So far so good, I'll work on having some test results up in the next few days. Even if you are not a Broadwell/Skylake/etc owner, there's still tons of great features and improvements offered up by Mesa 11.3-dev for all of the major Mesa/Gallium3D hardware drivers. Mesa 11.3 is still on track for being formally released in June if you are concerned about running fresh Git code on your desktop.
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