VMware SVGA3D

This page describes how to build, install and use the VMware guest GL driver (aka the SVGA or SVGA3D driver) for Linux using the latest source code. This driver gives a Linux virtual machine access to the host’s GPU for hardware-accelerated 3D. VMware Workstation running on Linux or Windows and VMware Fusion running on MacOS are all supported.

With VMware Workstation 17 / Fusion 13 releases, OpenGL 4.3 is supported in the guest. This requires

  • The vmwgfx kernel module version 2.20 or later

  • The VM needs to be configured to hardware version 20 or later.

  • MESA 22.0 or later should be installed.

You can disable GL4.3 support using environment variable SVGA_GL43=0 or lowering hardware version.

Most modern Linux distributions include the SVGA3D driver so end users shouldn’t be concerned with this information. But if your distributions lacks the driver or you want to update to the latest code these instructions explain what to do.

Components

The components involved in this include:

  • Linux kernel module: vmwgfx

  • User-space libdrm library

  • Mesa/Gallium OpenGL driver: “svga”

All of these components reside in the guest Linux virtual machine. On the host, all you’re doing is running VMware Workstation Pro or Fusion.

Prerequisites

  • vmwgfx Kernel module version at least 2.20

  • Ubuntu: For Ubuntu you need to install a number of build dependencies.

    sudo apt-get install autoconf automake libtool flex bison zstd
    sudo apt-get install build-essential g++ git
    sudo apt-get install libexpat1-dev libpciaccess-dev \
                         libpthread-stubs0-dev \
                         libudev-dev libx11-xcb-dev \
                         libxcb-dri2-0-dev libxcb-dri3-dev
    sudo apt-get install libxcb-glx0-dev libxcb-present-dev \
                         libxcb-shm0-dev libxcb-xfixes0-dev
    sudo apt-get install libxdamage-dev libxext-dev \
                         libxfixes-dev libxkbcommon-dev
    sudo apt-get install libxml2-dev libxrandr-dev \
                         libxshmfence-dev libxxf86vm-dev
    sudo apt-get install mesa-utils meson ninja-build \
                         pkg-config python3-mako python3-setuptools
    sudo apt-get install x11proto-dri2-dev x11proto-gl-dev \
                         xutils-dev libglvnd-dev
    

Depending on your Linux distribution, other packages may be needed. Meson should tell you what’s missing.

Getting the Latest Source Code

Begin by saving your current directory location:

export TOP=$PWD
  • Mesa/Gallium main branch. This code is used to build libGL, and the direct rendering svga driver for libGL, vmwgfx_dri.so, and the X acceleration library libxatracker.so.x.x.x.

    git clone https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa.git
    
  • libdrm, a user-space library that interfaces with DRM. Most distributions ship with this but it’s safest to install a newer version. To get the latest code from Git:

    git clone https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/mesa/drm.git
    

Building the Code

  • Determine where the GL-related libraries reside on your system and set the LIBDIR environment variable accordingly.

    For Ubuntu systems:

    export LIBDIR=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu
    
  • Build libdrm:

    cd $TOP/drm
    meson builddir --prefix=/usr --libdir=${LIBDIR}
    ninja -C builddir
    sudo ninja -C builddir install
    
  • Build Mesa:

    cd $TOP/mesa
    meson builddir -Dvulkan-drivers= -Dgallium-drivers=svga -Ddri-drivers= -Dglvnd=true -Dglvnd-vendor-name=mesa
    
    ninja -C builddir
    sudo ninja -C builddir install
    

    Note that you may have to install other packages that Mesa depends upon if they’re not installed in your system. You should be told what’s missing.

    The generated vmwgfx_dri.so is used by the OpenGL libraries during direct rendering, and by the X.Org server during accelerated indirect GL rendering.

Running OpenGL Programs

In a shell, run ‘glxinfo’ and look for the following to verify that the driver is working:

OpenGL vendor string: VMware, Inc.
OpenGL renderer string: SVGA3D; build: RELEASE;
OpenGL version string: 4.3 (Compatibilty Profile) Mesa 23.0

If OpenGL 4.3 is not working (you only get OpenGL 4.1):

  • Make sure the VM uses hardware version 20 or later.

  • Make sure the vmwgfx kernel module is version 2.20.0 or later.

  • Check the vmware.log file for errors.