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Recently, a Valve developer revived steamcompmgr (the SteamOS compositing and window manager) and renamed it to Gamescope. After writing about it yesterday here on GOL, they've now given some more info on what it actually does.

Valve developer Pierre-Loup Griffais is spearheading the effort and a few hours ago they actually gave it a readme, mentioning that "gamescope does the same thing as steamcompmgr, but with less extra copies and latency". From the readme:

- It's getting game frames through Wayland by way of Xwayland, so there's no copy within X itself before it gets the frame.
- It can use DRM/KMS to directly flip game frames to the screen, even when stretching or when notifications are up, removing another copy.
- When it does need to composite with the GPU, it does so with async Vulkan compute, meaning you get to see your frame quick even if the game already has the GPU busy with the next frame.
 
It also runs on top of a regular desktop, the 'nested' usecase steamcompmgr didn't support.

- Because the game is running in its own personal Xwayland sandbox desktop, it can't interfere with your desktop and your desktop can't interfere with it.
- You can spoof a virtual screen with a desired resolution and refresh rate as the only thing the game sees, and control/resize the output as needed. This can be useful in exotic display configurations like ultrawide or multi-monitor setups that involve rotation.
 
The features of that second part are working, but aren't exposed to the user yet.

Right now, they said it runs on an AMD GPU with Mesa but could be made to work with other drivers "with minimal work". NVIDIA would need to support accelerated Xwayland to work with Gamescope.

Definitely going to be interesting to find out their actual plan for it. A revived Steam Machine effort, perhaps with an AMD GPU? Or something else to help with whatever Steam Cloud Gaming turns out to be—a simple Linux front end for it perhaps? Back down to reality for a moment, it's more likely it's linked to their container effort to make Linux games run exactly how they want them across the many different distributions and desktops.

Many questions. I've emailed Valve to see if they want to give us any insight, although they're usually tight-lipped though so we might have to just wait and see if it's for a big plan or just a fun project for now.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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39 comments
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Vortex_Acherontic 16 January 2020 at 3:16 pm UTC
I wonder if Nvidia will someday support Wayland official. Afaik you can not use Wayland on the proprietary NV driver since it's tied up to XOrg ... really annoying I really wish to give Wayland a try. x.x

Maybe this will be a little push into the right direction for NV to just support Wayland x.x
orochi_kyo 16 January 2020 at 4:44 pm UTC
I won't wait Nvidia to come to its senses and release some sort of support or opensource drivers.

All my next PC shoppings will be entirely AMD, both processors, and video cards.
MayeulC 16 January 2020 at 5:04 pm UTC
raneonVery interesting and I'm to glad to own only AMD GPU's :-) So as far as I understand I will be able to run this even on to of a normal desktop. I suppose a Wayland one as it is using Wayland. I've used Plasma Wayland as well for gaming and the only missing features is freesync support for me. But this could help to reduce stuttering that is visible in Wayland if not using vsync, I hope.

Well, I miss video capture as well (be it plasma or sway): Steam Remote play [together or link] do not work, not even in-home streaming :/
Shmerl 16 January 2020 at 5:11 pm UTC
I'm somewhat confused, why is it using XWayland unconditionally. XWayland is normally needed only for something that's stuck with X interfaces. Modern games can use SDL or whatever to work with Wayland directly, so that compositor can avoid XWayland for those cases at least?

QuoteNVIDIA would need to support accelerated Xwayland to work with Gamescope.

SirBubblesI would love to see some wayland support from nvidia. Looks like it'll be required for team green users to get any joy out of this gamescope thing, so fingers crossed, I guess.

Vortex_AcheronticI wonder if Nvidia will someday support Wayland official. Afaik you can not use Wayland on the proprietary NV driver since it's tied up to XOrg ... really annoying I really wish to give Wayland a try. x.x

Maybe this will be a little push into the right direction for NV to just support Wayland x.x

To all those who are waiting for Nvidia to support Wayland, don't hold your breath. Linux users have been waiting for this for years, and Nvidia was and still is the major reason why Wayland adoption on Linux has been slow. Nvidia simply doesn't care about innovative and modern use cases. The reason it's such a mess for them is because their archaic and un-upstreamable blob can't work with the modern graphics stack, and it took them decades to even produce convoluted workarounds in attempts to fix it (and it still doesn't work!). And obviously upstream developers aren't eager to oblige such nasty attitude towards Linux.

Basically, Nvidia users have a few options:

1. If you want to stick to the blob, forget about modern use cases like Wayland.

2. Use Nouveau, but then you'll be bitten by Nvidia's sabotage of the open driver for their hardware. They refuse to allow it to reclock the GPU, making it unusable for high performance use cases like gaming. Plus it doesn't yet have Vulkan support.

3. Switch to hardware from AMD or Intel who support Linux stack properly, and always supported using modern options like Wayland.

You can of course also just wait for Nvidia to open up and upstream their driver, or to stop being jerks to Nouveau. But many have been waiting for this for decades and nothing happened. So why wait? If you care about innovation and progress of the Linux desktop, help yourself and everyone else and make sure your next GPU is not Nvidia.


Last edited by Shmerl on 16 January 2020 at 5:13 pm UTC
Samsai 16 January 2020 at 5:14 pm UTC
lejimsterAm I understanding that correctly? Can it run alongside a Gnomes mutter compositor, so that regular gnome desktop users can reap the benefits too?
You can run nested Wayland compositors (Wayland compositor on top of a Wayland compositor) so yeah, probably to a degree. I'm not sure if the frame display will then be dependent upon the parent compositor, so I'm not entirely sure if your frame latencies are actually improved.
iwantlinuxgames 16 January 2020 at 8:09 pm UTC
ShmerlI'm somewhat confused, why is it using XWayland unconditionally. XWayland is normally needed only for something that's stuck with X interfaces. Modern games can use SDL or whatever to work with Wayland directly, so that compositor can avoid XWayland for those cases at least?

QuoteNVIDIA would need to support accelerated Xwayland to work with Gamescope.

SirBubblesI would love to see some wayland support from nvidia. Looks like it'll be required for team green users to get any joy out of this gamescope thing, so fingers crossed, I guess.

Vortex_AcheronticI wonder if Nvidia will someday support Wayland official. Afaik you can not use Wayland on the proprietary NV driver since it's tied up to XOrg ... really annoying I really wish to give Wayland a try. x.x

Maybe this will be a little push into the right direction for NV to just support Wayland x.x

To all those who are waiting for Nvidia to support Wayland, don't hold your breath. Linux users have been waiting for this for years, and Nvidia was and still is the major reason why Wayland adoption on Linux has been slow. Nvidia simply doesn't care about innovative and modern use cases. The reason it's such a mess for them is because their archaic and un-upstreamable blob can't work with the modern graphics stack, and it took them decades to even produce convoluted workarounds in attempts to fix it (and it still doesn't work!). And obviously upstream developers aren't eager to oblige such nasty attitude towards Linux.

Basically, Nvidia users have a few options:

1. If you want to stick to the blob, forget about modern use cases like Wayland.

2. Use Nouveau, but then you'll be bitten by Nvidia's sabotage of the open driver for their hardware. They refuse to allow it to reclock the GPU, making it unusable for high performance use cases like gaming. Plus it doesn't yet have Vulkan support.

3. Switch to hardware from AMD or Intel who support Linux stack properly, and always supported using modern options like Wayland.

You can of course also just wait for Nvidia to open up and upstream their driver, or to stop being jerks to Nouveau. But many have been waiting for this for decades and nothing happened. So why wait? If you care about innovation and progress of the Linux desktop, help yourself and everyone else and make sure your next GPU is not Nvidia.

I'm not holding my breath for wayland on nvidia. xorg works just fine for me with the nvidia proprietary driver.

on my laltop i have an amd radeon vega chipset. works great for gaming. but it sucks with chrome. i can't read forums here or at phoronix bacause the page turns into an awful corrupted static mess .....looks just like an analog tv channel that has no broadcasting on that channel...just a bunch of "snow"....a major inconvenience i should say. i don't get that type of behaviour with my RTX 2060 and proprietary drivers.

I'll give up nvidia and xorg when u pry them from my cold dead fingers.
BielFPs 16 January 2020 at 8:25 pm UTC
SamsaiYou can run nested Wayland compositors (Wayland compositor on top of a Wayland compositor)

Yo Dawg!
kneekoo 16 January 2020 at 8:30 pm UTC
I wonder if they have any plans for Intel graphics.
Shmerl 16 January 2020 at 8:42 pm UTC
iwantlinuxgamesI'm not holding my breath for wayland on nvidia. xorg works just fine for me with the nvidia proprietary driver.
<...>
I'll give up nvidia and xorg when u pry them from my cold dead fingers.

That's why I said, ditch Nvidia if you care about innovation and progress of the Linux desktop. In case you don't, you can stay with the blob that can't handle modern use cases.

Just note, that it slows things down for everyone else too. While Nvidia usage is still high, Wayland won't be prioritized. I expect things to move faster, once Nvidia blob usage will drop below both AMD and Intel.


Last edited by Shmerl on 16 January 2020 at 8:46 pm UTC
Mohandevir 16 January 2020 at 8:51 pm UTC
Shmerl
iwantlinuxgamesI'm not holding my breath for wayland on nvidia. xorg works just fine for me with the nvidia proprietary driver.
<...>
I'll give up nvidia and xorg when u pry them from my cold dead fingers.

That's why I said, ditch Nvidia if you care about innovation and progress of the Linux desktop. In case you don't, you can stay with the blob that can't handle modern use cases.

Just note, that it slows things down for everyone else too. While Nvidia usage is still high, Wayland won't be prioritized. I expect things to move faster, once Nvidia blob usage will drop below both AMD and Intel.

This said... Valve and Nvidia have worked closely in the past, so who knows, maybe when the time comes for a full and official deployment of Gamescope... But I'm not holding my breath either.

I made the choice of a GTX 1660 Super because it was the best GPU for the 450W PSU in my Mini-itx build and I use a lot of in-home streaming... For these use-cases, I'm kind of stuck with Nvidia. AMD has the tendency to have an higher tdp, unfortunately... Don't know if it's going to change with the RX5600XT.


Last edited by Mohandevir on 20 January 2020 at 2:52 pm UTC
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