[SDL] SDL 1.3 status ?

Tim Angus tim at ngus.net
Thu Jul 28 03:36:39 PDT 2011

tl;dr version:

* Don't be silly, HW acceleration on Linux is ubiquitous now and has 
been for some time.
* It doesn't make sense to extend the SDL rendering API now when OpenGL 
is available everywhere that matters and SDL is never going to be able 
to compete with it on a functionality basis anyway.

On 28/07/2011 01:00, Mason Wheeler wrote:
> I'm sure the desktop Linux folks will raise a big hue and cry about
> it again because they can't seem to get working OpenGL drivers in a
> lot of cases, but the fact of the matteris, desktop Linux is
> irrelevant because the actual users are simply not using it. The
> seriousplatforms today are Windows (guaranteed D3D and GL in 99%+ of
> all cases), mobile *nix (guaranteed GLES on all platforms I'm aware
> of) and, to a much lesser extent, OSX (guaranteedGL in all cases).
> Desktop Linux *still* has less than 1% market share, and only a
> fraction of that tiny fraction actually cares about gaming. And for
> them, there's still SDL 1.2.

You're about 5 years out of date. If you install e.g. Ubuntu today it
/requires/ hardware acceleration to work as intended and certainly
doesn't need any manual configuration. If you're going to try and 
support your argument with information, at least make sure said 
information is correct in the first place ;). It's fallacious to say 
that desktop Linux is any more or less of a factor in guiding SDL's 
direction than any other platform, in my opinion.

> It makes no sense to let a tiny fraction of a percent hold SDL
> 1.3/2.0 back from implementing modern rendering features.

I think the problem is that SDL serves two relatively distinct purposes:

1. A platform abstration layer.
2. An API for 2D rendering.

Hopefully we can agree that everyone cares about 1; it is the reason SDL
exists in the first place. Now, the people that primarily use SDL for 
this purpose basically don't care about the rendering API. I count 
myself in this category.

The other use case for SDL is as a means to write simple games, with 
simple being the operative word. It is after all what the S in SDL 
stands for. The people that have invested time in using SDL for this 
purpose may have outgrown the limitations of this API and, rightly or 
wrongly, feel that it is now holding them back. They may now be getting 
to the stage where their games aren't so simple any more. I think this 
is where you are.

For what it's worth, I reckon the question is not one of what is 
stopping the SDL rendering API being extended, it is whether or not it's 
appropriate to do so in the first place. OpenGL is already there as a 
portable and vastly more capable API than anything SDL is or can aspire 
to be, so what is the point in trying to make SDL encroach on its 

I acknowledge (and have sympathy with) the argument that OpenGL is 
harder to learn than the SDL rendering API, but it's not that bad 
really. For the purposes of doing simple 2D games, the required OpenGL 
is pretty minimal, to be honest.

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