Linux framebuffer

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The Linux framebuffer (fbdev) is a graphic hardware-independent abstraction layer to show graphics on a computer monitor, typically on the console. The word framebuffer means a part of video memory containing a current video frame, and the Linux framebuffer means “access method to the framebuffer under the Linux kernel”, without relying on system-specific libraries such as SVGALib or another user space software.

Contents

Applications

There are three applications of the Linux framebuffer.

  • An implementation of text Linux console running out of hardware text mode (if unavailable, or to overpass its restrictions such as glyph size, number of code points etc.). It became popular largely also for the ability to show the Tux logo on boot up.
  • A possible graphic output method for an X server, independent of video adapter hardware and its drivers.
  • Graphic programs avoiding the heavy overhead of the X Window System.

The last item includes several Linux programs such as MPlayer, and libraries such as GGI, SDL, GTK+ and Qt Extended can use the framebuffer directly. This is particularly popular in embedded systems.

There is now a library DirectFB which provides a framework for hardware acceleration of the Linux framebuffer.

There is also an in-kernel windowing system called FramebufferUI (fbui) that provides a basic 2D windowing experience with very little memory use.

History

Linux has generic framebuffer support since 2.1.107 kernel.[1] It was originally implemented to allow the kernel to emulate a text console on systems such as the Apple Macintosh that do not have a text-mode display, and was later expanded to Linux's originally-supported IBM PC compatible platform.

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External links

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