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X-Plane 12 now uses the open source Zink driver to help Plugins

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Well, this is certainly fun to see. X-Plane 12 now makes use of the open source Zink driver, for doing OpenGL over Vulkan.

As Zink developer Mike Blumenkrantz mentioned in their blog post "Zink has been commercialized" and they sound very happy about that. Zink is now a driver that "runs real games in production for real, existing people". A pretty impressive milestone for the project.

So what's this all about? As per the X-Plane 12 announcement, the game developers have added Zink into the game. They're using it for their plugin system, which currently has some long-standing issues with native OpenGL drivers at times being rubbish. It's all highly technical stuff, and most normal players probably won't understand a lot of it.

X-Plane nowadays uses the Vulkan API or Metal (on macOS) but the problem is, they have a long history of plugins and plugin developers using OpenGL. So what they're now doing is using Zink as a go-between, having it sit "between plugins and X-Plane and translates plugin OpenGL rendering into native Vulkan commands that get executed by the same Vulkan device that X-Plane is using for rendering" — clever stuff.

The result they're going for is to have their plugin system work better than before, and potential performance improvements. There's the added bonus that they have a lot more control over everything too, and plugin developers also now have more power and better debugging options.

If you're interested in the finer details I suggest reading their announcement.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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6 comments

whizse Feb 24
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The announcement was a pleasure to read! Well written and most importantly gives full credit and kudos to not only Zink the project but to mr Blumenkrantz personally. Exactly the way you should do it. Others could learn from this!
jens Feb 25
  • Supporter
About X-Plane 12, does someone knows if VR (with Valve Index) works on Linux with the Linux (non-proton) version? X-Plane 11 actually worked, albeit quite slowly as far as I remember.


Last edited by jens on 25 February 2023 at 9:37 am UTC
faceless Feb 25
Zink allowed me to use opengl on the force engine on an overclocked rpi 400 with the following command:
MESA_LOADER_DRIVER_OVERRIDE=zink MESA_GL_VERSION_OVERRIDE=3.3 MESA_GLSL_VERSION_OVERRIDE=330 ./theforceengine

I think most linux users have no idea that zink is part of mesa now and is an option, but the impact on performance is huge, at least in mesa 20.3.5. I read somewhere that performance is expected to be much better in latter versions of mesa


Last edited by faceless on 25 February 2023 at 11:44 am UTC
Shmerl Feb 26
This is cool to see and I agree, giving credit to developers is very nice for a change.
tfk Feb 26
Seems the X-Plane team is as dedicated to OSS as they are about aviation.
MayeulC Mar 1
Quoting: facelessZink allowed me to use opengl on the force engine on an overclocked rpi 400 with the following command:
MESA_LOADER_DRIVER_OVERRIDE=zink MESA_GL_VERSION_OVERRIDE=3.3 MESA_GLSL_VERSION_OVERRIDE=330 ./theforceengine

I think most linux users have no idea that zink is part of mesa now and is an option, but the impact on performance is huge, at least in mesa 20.3.5. I read somewhere that performance is expected to be much better in latter versions of mesa

My, isn't that version three years out of date now? Mesa is also shipped with the flatpak runtimes if you don't want to upgrade your version.

And yeah, terrific perf improvements, thanks to Mike and others, though I thought OpenGL was pretty good on the Pi?

Edit: just realized there was a pasta machine on the zink screenshot from the x-plane blog. Brilliant! Maybe they should rename Zink. Or make a new kind of pasta named Zink :)


Last edited by MayeulC on 1 March 2023 at 8:57 am UTC
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