VMware SVGA3D Guest Driver

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 the August 2015 Workstation 12 / Fusion 8 releases, OpenGL 3.3 is supported in the guest. This requires:

  • The VM is configured for virtual hardware version 12.

  • The host OS, GPU and graphics driver supports DX11 (Windows) or OpenGL 4.0 (Linux, Mac)

  • On Linux, the vmwgfx kernel module must be version 2.9.0 or later.

  • A recent version of Mesa with the updated svga Gallium driver.

Otherwise, OpenGL 2.1 is supported.

With the Fall 2018 Workstation 15 / Fusion 11 releases, additional features are supported in the driver:

  • Multisample antialiasing (2x, 4x)

  • GL_ARB/AMD_draw_buffers_blend

  • GL_ARB_sample_shading

  • GL_ARB_texture_cube_map_array

  • GL_ARB_texture_gather

  • GL_ARB_texture_query_lod

  • GL_EXT/OES_draw_buffers_indexed

This requires version 2.15.0 or later of the vmwgfx kernel module and the VM must be configured for hardware version 16 or later.

OpenGL 3.3 support can be disabled by setting the environment variable SVGA_VGPU10=0. You will then have OpenGL 2.1 support. This may be useful to work around application bugs (such as incorrect use of the OpenGL 3.x core profile).

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

For more information about the X components see these wiki pages at x.org:

Components

The components involved in this include:

  • Linux kernel module: vmwgfx

  • X server 2D driver: xf86-video-vmware

  • 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 or Fusion.

Prerequisites

  • Kernel version at least 2.6.25

  • Xserver version at least 1.7

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

    sudo apt-get install git-core
    sudo apt-get install ninja-build meson libpthread-stubs0-dev
    sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-dev x11proto-xinerama-dev libx11-xcb-dev
    sudo apt-get install libxcb-glx0-dev libxrender-dev
    sudo apt-get build-dep libgl1-mesa-dri libxcb-glx0-dev
    
  • Fedora: For Fedora you also need to install a number of build dependencies.

    sudo yum install mesa-libGL-devel xorg-x11-server-devel xorg-x11-util-macros
    sudo yum install libXrender-devel.i686
    sudo yum install ninja-build meson gcc expat-devel kernel-devel git-core
    sudo yum install makedepend flex bison
    

Depending on your Linux distro, 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 master 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
    
  • VMware Linux guest kernel module. Note that this repo contains the complete DRM and TTM code. The vmware-specific driver is really only the files prefixed with vmwgfx.

    git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/git/mesa/vmwgfx
    
  • libdrm, a user-space library that interfaces with DRM. Most distros 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
    
  • xf86-video-vmware. The chainloading driver, vmware_drv.so, the legacy driver vmwlegacy_drv.so, and the vmwgfx driver vmwgfx_drv.so.

    git clone git://anongit.freedesktop.org/git/xorg/driver/xf86-video-vmware
    

Building the Code

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

    For 32-bit Ubuntu systems:

    export LIBDIR=/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu
    

    For 64-bit Ubuntu systems:

    export LIBDIR=/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu
    

    For 32-bit Fedora systems:

    export LIBDIR=/usr/lib
    

    For 64-bit Fedora systems:

    export LIBDIR=/usr/lib64
    
  • Build libdrm:

    cd $TOP/drm
    meson builddir --prefix=/usr --libdir=${LIBDIR}
    ninja -C builddir
    sudo ninja -C builddir install
    
  • Build Mesa and the vmwgfx_dri.so driver, the vmwgfx_drv.so xorg driver, the X acceleration library libxatracker. The vmwgfx_dri.so is used by the OpenGL libraries during direct rendering, and by the Xorg server during accelerated indirect GL rendering. The libxatracker library is used exclusively by the X server to do render, copy and video acceleration:

    The following configure options doesn’t build the EGL system.

    cd $TOP/mesa
    meson builddir --prefix=/usr --libdir=${LIBDIR} -Dgallium-drivers=svga -Ddri-drivers=swrast -Dgallium-xa=true -Ddri3=false
    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.

  • xf86-video-vmware: Now, once libxatracker is installed, we proceed with building and replacing the current Xorg driver. First check if your system is 32- or 64-bit.

    cd $TOP/xf86-video-vmware
    ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr --libdir=${LIBDIR}
    make
    sudo make install
    
  • vmwgfx kernel module. First make sure that any old version of this kernel module is removed from the system by issuing

    sudo rm /lib/modules/`uname -r`/kernel/drivers/gpu/drm/vmwgfx.ko*
    

    Build and install:

    cd $TOP/vmwgfx
    make
    sudo make install
    sudo depmod -a
    

    If you’re using a Ubuntu OS:

    sudo update-initramfs -u
    

    If you’re using a Fedora OS:

    sudo dracut --force
    

    Add ‘vmwgfx’ to the /etc/modules file:

    echo vmwgfx | sudo tee -a /etc/modules
    

    Note

    some distros put DRM kernel drivers in different directories. For example, sometimes vmwgfx.ko might be found in /lib/modules/{version}/extra/vmwgfx.ko or in /lib/modules/{version}/kernel/drivers/gpu/drm/vmwgfx/vmwgfx.ko.

    After installing vmwgfx.ko you might want to run the following command to check that the new kernel module is in the expected place:

    find /lib/modules -name vmwgfx.ko -exec ls -l '{}' \;
    

    If you see the kernel module listed in more than one place, you may need to move things around.

    Finally, if you update your kernel you’ll probably have to rebuild and reinstall the vmwgfx.ko module again.

Now try to load the kernel module by issuing

sudo modprobe vmwgfx

Then type

dmesg

to watch the debug output. It should contain a number of lines prefixed with “[vmwgfx]”.

Then restart the Xserver (or reboot). The lines starting with “vmwlegacy” or “VMWARE” in the file /var/log/Xorg.0.log should now have been replaced with lines starting with “vmwgfx”, indicating that the new Xorg driver is in use.

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: Gallium 0.4 on SVGA3D; build: RELEASE;
OpenGL version string: 2.1 Mesa 8.0

If you don’t see this, try setting this environment variable:

export LIBGL_DEBUG=verbose

then rerun glxinfo and examine the output for error messages.

If OpenGL 3.3 is not working (you only get OpenGL 2.1):

  • Make sure the VM uses hardware version 12.

  • Make sure the vmwgfx kernel module is version 2.9.0 or later.

  • Check the vmware.log file for errors.

  • Run ‘dmesg | grep vmwgfx’ and look for “DX: yes”.