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DirectFB is a graphics library which was designed with embedded
systems in mind. It offers maximum hardware accelerated performance
at a minimum of resource usage and overhead.
Check http://www.directfb.org/ for more and up to date infos.
Supported Operating Systems
Using SDL (without acceleration support), DirectFB also supports
the following operating systems:
- FreeBSD (last tested: DirectFB 0.9.21 on FreeBSD 5.2)
- NetBSD (tested on NetBSD 1.6)
- OpenBSD (tested on OpenBSD 3.2)
(If you have problems, try ./configure --disable-mmx)
Please note that SDL support is experimental and incomplete. It is
intended for developers to allow development of DirectFB applications
in various environments.
Native (non SDL) support for the following operating systems is in progress:
- Mac OS X (tested on Mac OS X 10.3.5)
We do not have the resources to ensure that every release of
DirectFB works on all supported platforms. If you are a user of one
of the operating system listed above, and have the time to test the
CVS or GIT version regularly, your help is greatly appreciated.
For regenerating autofoo (./autogen.sh or autoreconf)
Optionally, depending on the configuration you want:
- Linux kernel 2.2.x or newer with working frame buffer device
(check /proc/fb) for the fbdev system.
- libSDL (Simple Direct Media Layer) for the sdl system.
- libX11 (X11 client library) for the X11 system (libx11-dev and libxext-dev packages).
The following libraries are optional, but important (Debian package names):
- libfreetype6-dev for TrueType and other fonts
- libjpeg-dev for Joint Picture Expert Group images
- libpng-dev for Portable Network Graphics
- zlib1g-dev for compressed screenshot support (also needed by libpng)
The multi application core also requires <linux/fusion.h>, see the
section "Running multiple DirectFB applications" for more details.
The build of the image and font providers can be disabled but we
strongly suggest that you don't do this since the code examples and
a lot of DirectFB applications depend on the functionality provided
The libmpeg3 video provider requires the libmpeg3 library which is
not commonly installed. We provide this package on our web-site at
The avifile and flash video providers that used to be shipped with
DirectFB have been moved to the DirectFB-extra package.
We suggest you also install pkg-config available from
http://www.freedesktop.org/software/pkgconfig/. It will help you
to compile applications based on DirectFB.
Depending on the DirectFB application you want to run, you need some
or all of these:
- A working frame buffer device (check the output of 'fbset -i').
- A keyboard (if it works on the console, everything should be fine).
- A PS/2 or serial mouse for windowing. USB and ADB mice do also work
via PS/2 emulation.
Using the single application core you always need access to /dev/tty0,
/dev/fb0 and the mouse device (/dev/psaux, /dev/mouse).
You can either run all DirectFB applications as root or allow users
to access these devices. A reasonable way to do this is to add users
to the group tty (or some other group) and allow this group to read
and write the files in /dev:
crw-rw---- 1 root tty 29, 0 /dev/fb0
crw-rw---- 1 root tty 10, 1 /dev/psaux
crw-r----- 1 root tty 4, 0 /dev/tty0
If you are using the multi application core, only the master process needs
access to all of these devices. Additional processes (slaves) just need
access to /dev/fb0 and:
crw-rw---- 1 root fusion 29, 0 /dev/fusion/0
Note that the master creates a shared memory file, probably
in '/dev/shm/fusion.0'. It's read/writeable for anyone matching
the master process' user or group.
Some applications from the DirectFB-examples package have additional
- A video card supported by video4linux for df_video.
- A joystick for df_joystick.
Running multiple DirectFB applications at the same time
With the default build of the DirectFB library, only one DirectFB
application may be running. However you have the option to use the
multi application core of DirectFB which allows multiple DirectFB
applications to run at the same time within a session.
DirectFB applications communicate through a layer we call "Fusion".
This layer was previously implemented completely in user space using
semaphores and message queues. But since 0.9.15 the Fusion Kernel
Device is required which implements critical parts of Fusion and thus
lead to better performance and decent stability. To install this kernel
module (only available for Linux yet), find the linux-fusion
module in our CVS or GIT repository or on the DirectFB website.
For DirectFB 1.4.x releases you should use linux-fusion 8.1.1 or newer.
Compile DirectFB with multi-application core enabled:
Make sure your Linux kernel supports tmpfs. This is explained in
the kernel sources in Documentation/filesystems/tmpfs.txt.
Mount a tmpfs filesystem as /dev/shm:
mount tmpfs /dev/shm -ttmpfs
Optionally a mount point can be specified via the "tmpfs" option,
see directfbrc(5). The option has to be the same for all processes.
A good way to test the multi-application core is to install the lite
toolkit and DFBTerm, a DirectFB terminal (both available in the
DirectFB CVS/GIT repository). You can then start DirectFB applications
To take full advantage of hardware acceleration,
a Matrox G200/G400/G450/G550 graphics card is recommend for this
version of DirectFB. The drivers for ATI128, Voodoo 3/4/5/Banshee,
NeoMagic and S3 Savage cards included with this release are work in
progress and only yet support a subset of the possible accelerations.
1) In the DirectFB directory type:
make install (as superuser)
Use './configure --help' to get a list of possible configure options.
Imported options include:
--enable-multi Enables the Multi Application Core
--enable-debug Enables many debug messages and assertions
--enable-trace Enables run time stack trace information
Debugging and especially stack trace support are a performance
impact. It may be noticably slower in some areas, e.g. text drawing.
You may use the options "no-debug" and "no-trace" by default, e.g.
in '<prefix>/etc/directfbrc', and use "--dfb:debug,trace" on the command
line if needed.
2) Make sure that "<prefix>/lib" is listed in your /etc/ld.so.conf.
The default prefix is "/usr/local". After adding it you have to
run 'ldconfig' as superuser.
Alternatively, you can add the path to the environment
variable LD_LIBRARY_PATH. This is useful for temporarily
switching to another installed version.
3) You might want to copy fb.modes to /etc or merge it with your
existing /etc/fb.modes file. The first entry will be used by
default - copy other entries you may need.
4) If you want to use a serial mouse, create a link called /dev/mouse
that points to serial device (e.g. /dev/ttyS0). Then add a line
describing your mouse-protocol to /etc/directfbrc or ~/.directfbrc:
5) If you are cross compiling and have installed the required libraries
someplace other than /usr/local/lib be sure to add the bin directory
for those libraries to the front of your 'PATH'.
For instance if you configured using:
then be sure to
before compiling and installing.
There are lots of things that can be configured. We try to ship DirectFB
with reasonable defaults but you might have to tweak things. There are
several ways to do this. You may edit the system-wide configuration
file <prefix>/etc/directfbrc or the user-specific $HOME/.directfbrc.
There's a manual page called directfbrc(5) that documents all the settings.
The same manual page also explains how DirectFB application can be
configured via the command-line.
Configuring the Linux frame buffer device
DirectFB's prefered way-of-working needs a Linux kernel
with frame buffer support. Check the documentation in the kernel tree
(/usr/src/linux/Documentation/fb/) on how to enable the frame buffer device
for your graphics card.
The generic VESA frame buffer device does not support mode switching
and you will not get hardware acceleration. To make DirectFB work with
veasfb, you should add the following lines to /etc/lilo.conf:
'ywrap' enables panning with wraparound.
'mtrr' enables setting caching type for the frame buffer to write-combining.
This sets the mode on startup. 791 means 1024x768@16, 788 means 800x600@16.
All VESA Video Modes:
Bits 640x480 800x600 1024x768 1280x1024 1600x1200
8 769 771 773 775 796
16 785 788 791 794 798
32 786 789 792 795 799
Other frame buffer devices support mode switching. DirectFB will only
support modes listed in your /etc/fb.modes file. By default the first
entry found is used.
If you have a Matrox card you may want to try the vsync patch found in
the patches directory that enables applications to "idle wait" for the
Using the builtin "window manager"
Since DirectFB lacks a real window manager, we added a hack to the
window stack to allow for basic window management. While pressing
the <Meta> (or Windows) key or alternatively <Caps-Lock> you can do
- Drag your mouse to move the focused window.
- Drag and press <Ctrl> to resize the focused window.
- Drag and press <Alt> to change the opacity of the focused window.
- Press C to close the focused window.
- Press A to lower the focused window to the bottom.
- Press X to cycle the focus through the windows.
- Press S to raise the lowest window to the top.
- Press P to enable and show the mouse cursor.
- Press R to rotate the focused window by 90 degree.
- Press E to focus the window currently under the mouse cursor,
useful in conjunction with 'X'.
- Press Escape to return from fullscreen mode to the desktop.
(currently not advisable if the fullscreen app is still flipping)
- Press F12 to redraw the whole window stack.
You might want to use the "capslock-meta" option (see directfbrc(5))
if you don't have a <Meta> key.
A complete API reference documentation in HTML format is created during
the build in the docs directory. You may also access the API reference
as well as a concepts overview, tutorials and the FAQ online at
Johannes Zellner <email@example.com>
Till Adam <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joachim Steiger <email@example.com>
Felix von Leitner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Johannes Stezenbach <email@example.com>
Michael Natterer <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Holger Waechtler <email@example.com>
Kim JeongHoe <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jason Gaiser <email@example.com>
W. Michael Petullo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jiri Svoboda <Jiri.Svoboda@seznam.cz>
Hallvar Helleseth <email@example.com>
Topi Kanerva <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Daniel Mack <email@example.com>
Ara Hacopian <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mike Haertel <email@example.com>
Enno Brehm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Martin Mueller <email@example.com>
Sebastian Klemke <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Fredrik Hallenberg <email@example.com>
Antonino Daplas <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scott A McConnell <email@example.com>
Alex SONG <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ville Syrj�l� <email@example.com>
Brian J. Murrell <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tim Janik <email@example.com>
Billy Biggs <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Andreas Oberritter <email@example.com>
Simon Ueng <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Scott Brumbaugh <email@example.com>
Sebastian Ley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
James Su <email@example.com>
Sarma Kolluru <Sarma.Kolluru@nsc.com>
Oliver Schwartz <Oliver.Schwartz@gmx.de>
J.P. Delport <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michel D�nzer <email@example.com>
Maurizio Monge <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tim Wright <email@example.com>
Liam Girdwood <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Andreas Robinson <andro134 at student.liu.se>
Michael Hunold <email@example.com>
Brandon M. Reynolds <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Micha Nelissen <email@example.com>
Vadim Catana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Henning Glawe <email@example.com>
Ed Millard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Claudio Ciccani <email@example.com>
Tom Bridgwater <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oskar Liljeblad <email@example.com>
Bryce Nichols <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Stefan Lucke <email@example.com>
Ivan Daniluk <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mark Salter <email@example.com>
Martin L�tken <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sylvain Meyer <email@example.com>
Mark Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Damian Kowalewski <email@example.com>
Jakub Bogusz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nathanael D. Noblet <email@example.com>
Ryan Burns <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Colin Watson <email@example.com>
Guillem Jover <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jeff Bailey <email@example.com>
Andreas Jochens <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Daniel J Laird <email@example.com>
Marko M�kel� <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nils Magnus Larsgard <email@example.com>
P�r Degerman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Michel van Noorloos <email@example.com>
Paul Mackerras <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Attilio Fiandrotti <email@example.com>
Vaclav Slavik <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Philip J�genstedt <email@example.com>
Eugene Everson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mike Crowe <email@example.com>
Kieran Bingham <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Luis Mondesi +lemsx1 +gmail,com
Keith Mok <email@example.com>
GARDET Guillaume <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Phil Endecott <email@example.com>
Brian Austin <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Keith Mok <email@example.com>
Young Hoon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Special thanks to Ville Syrjala for his great work on the
Matrox TV-Out support and for his several patches including
fixes and enhancements for the whole library. He also did
several ports like UAE or mplayer for DirectFB. Check out his
site at 'http://www.sci.fi/~syrjala/'.
(c) Copyright 2001-2009 The DirectFB Organization (directfb.org)
(c) Copyright 2000-2004 Convergence (integrated media) GmbH
All rights reserved.
Written by Denis Oliver Kropp <email@example.com>,
Andreas Hundt <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
Sven Neumann <email@example.com>,
Ville Syrjälä <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Claudio Ciccani <email@example.com>.
This library is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU Lesser General Public
License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either
version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.
The complete text of the license is found in the file COPYING.