Fixing wine-wayland on POLARIS

November 28, 2022

After switching to wayland I got most GUI programs to use wayland backend render. The two main exceptions are pidgin (used gtk-2) and wine (uses low level x11 primitives for many things). pidgin worked fine in Xwayland, but wine did not always behave: sometimes input focus did not get passed to the emulated application, sometimes wine could not use wayland-native pixel screen dimensions and resorted back to down-scaled dimensions.

There is an ongoing effort to get wine a new wayland backend by Alexandros Frantzis and others. It’s not yet merged to wine upstream proper and is developed at as a wine fork in wayland branch. nixpkgs packages this fork as wine-wayland package.

I tried wine-wayland for the first time this weekend. Unfortunately it was not able to run DirectX or OpenGL games for windows. When I started an application I heard expected sounds from the applications (good) but got only black screen back (bad!).

I did not think I could fix it: wine was a huge project, I had no background in modern graphics be it linux or windows. But I was mildly curious about the following messages wine was dumping to stderr:

$ wine foo.exe
00f0:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create GBM surface
00f0:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create EGL surface
011c:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create GBM surface
011c:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create EGL surface

I wanted to find out why wine was failing to create these things.

GBM and EGL acronyms sounded vaguely graphics-related. Creating the rendering surface sounded like a simple procedure. Everything neededs a surface to draw anything. Maybe that error message is an actual bug?

wine has a great WINEDEBUG= mechanism to enable subsystem-specific debug prints at runtime (man wine has detailed synatax description). To get wayland-related debugging I used WINEDEBUG=waylanddrv,opengl:

$ WINEDEBUG=waylanddrv,opengl wine foo.exe
0124:trace:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_create_gbm_surface Using default format/modifier information
0124:trace:waylanddrv:wayland_gbm_create_surface 640x480 AR24 scanout=0 count_mods=2
0124:trace:waylanddrv:wayland_gbm_create_surface     mod: 0x00ffffffffffffff
0124:trace:waylanddrv:wayland_gbm_create_surface     mod: 0x0000000000000000
0124:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create GBM surface
0124:trace:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create EGL surface with SRGB colorspace, trying with default colorspace
0124:err:waylanddrv:wayland_gl_drawable_update Failed to create EGL surface

Not knowing much about these GBM things it felt like creating a 640x480 surface with AR24 format (8 bits for each of Red, Blue, Green, Alpha components) should not be a problem and the call should succeed. Why does it fail here?

To ease exploration I started patching mesa and wine-wayland locally with fprintf(stderr, ...); calls to see what gets passed around.

nixpkgs’s mesa clients use /run/opengl-driver-32 paths to load opengl mesa drivers. That means just rebuilding an application against patched mesa locally in nixpkgs checkout is not enough to get it used: applications will still load /run/opengl-driver-32 drivers. One day we will fix this non-hermeticity.

But until then we have to manually redirect used mesa from default paths. There are many ways to do it. I used the following global variables:

$ local_mesa=$(nix-build --no-link ~/nm -A pkgsi686Linux.mesa.drivers)
$ GBM_BACKENDS_PATH=/not-really-used \
  LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH=$local_mesa/lib/dri \
  __EGL_VENDOR_LIBRARY_DIRS=$local_mesa/share/glvnd/egl_vendor.d \
      wine foo.exe

This allowed me to put patches to ~/nm checkout of nixpkgs and immediately observe their effect on wine-wayland.

I found that wine’s code at winewayland.drv. calls wayland_gbm_create_surface() -> wayland_gl_create_gbm_surface() -> wayland_gbm_create_surface(). All of the calls are shallow wrappers of one another. They just pass through the request to create surface. I’ll paste the latter in full here:

struct gbm_surface *wayland_gbm_create_surface(uint32_t drm_format, int width, int height,
                                               size_t count_modifiers, uint64_t *modifiers,
                                               BOOL format_is_scanoutable)
    uint32_t gbm_bo_flags = GBM_BO_USE_RENDERING;

    if (TRACE_ON(waylanddrv))
        size_t i;

        TRACE("%dx%d %.4s scanout=%d count_mods=%zu\n",
              width, height, (const char *)&drm_format,
              format_is_scanoutable, count_modifiers);

        for (i = 0; i < count_modifiers; i++)
            TRACE("    mod: 0x%.16llx\n", (long long)modifiers[i]);

    if (format_is_scanoutable) gbm_bo_flags |= GBM_BO_USE_SCANOUT;

    if (count_modifiers)
        return gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2(process_gbm_device, width, height,
                                                  drm_format, modifiers, count_modifiers, gbm_bo_flags);
        return gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers(process_gbm_device, width, height,
                                                 drm_format, modifiers, count_modifiers);

    return gbm_surface_create(process_gbm_device, width, height, drm_format, gbm_bo_flags);

Here wayland_gbm_create_surface() tries to call gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2() with 2 modifiers:

Note that if there would be no modifiers then gbm_surface_create() would be called. From what I understand presence of extra modifiers is optional (depends on a driver implementation).

From what I understand generic code should be able to work with all modifiers. Picking wrong modifier should only affect performance (and not correctness). An example modifier would be to enable tiled pixel layout instead of default linear.

The fun thing is that mesa rejects gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2() call for me with errno = ENOSYS at src/gbm/backends/dri/gbm_dri.c:

static struct gbm_surface *
gbm_dri_surface_create(struct gbm_device *gbm,
                       uint32_t width, uint32_t height,
                       uint32_t format, uint32_t flags,
                       const uint64_t *modifiers, const unsigned count)
   struct gbm_dri_device *dri = gbm_dri_device(gbm);
   struct gbm_dri_surface *surf;

   if (modifiers &&
       (!dri->image || dri->image->base.version < 14 ||
        !dri->image->createImageWithModifiers)) {
      errno = ENOSYS; // <- here
      return NULL;

As I understand mesa assumes that createImageWithModifiers support should be present in the backend driver. But in my case of GFX8 / POLARIS12 modifier support for image creation seems to be disabled by mesa at src/gallium/drivers/radeonsi/si_texture.c. Don’t know why.

void si_init_screen_texture_functions(struct si_screen *sscreen)
   sscreen->b.resource_from_handle = si_texture_from_handle;
   sscreen->b.resource_get_handle = si_texture_get_handle;
   sscreen->b.resource_get_param = si_resource_get_param;
   sscreen->b.resource_get_info = si_texture_get_info;
   sscreen->b.resource_from_memobj = si_resource_from_memobj;
   sscreen->b.memobj_create_from_handle = si_memobj_from_handle;
   sscreen->b.memobj_destroy = si_memobj_destroy;
   sscreen->b.check_resource_capability = si_check_resource_capability;
   sscreen->b.get_sparse_texture_virtual_page_size =

   /* By not setting it the frontend will fall back to non-modifier create,
    * which works around some applications using modifiers that are not
    * allowed in combination with lack of error reporting in
    * gbm_dri_surface_create */
   if (sscreen->info.gfx_level >= GFX9 && sscreen->info.kernel_has_modifiers) {
      sscreen->b.resource_create_with_modifiers = si_texture_create_with_modifiers;
      sscreen->b.query_dmabuf_modifiers = si_query_dmabuf_modifiers;
      sscreen->b.is_dmabuf_modifier_supported = si_is_dmabuf_modifier_supported;
      sscreen->b.get_dmabuf_modifier_planes = si_get_dmabuf_modifier_planes;

Here GFX8 does not get a hint of resource_create_with_modifiers and as a result src/gallium/frontends/dri/dri2.c does not set createImageWithModifiers:

static void
dri2_init_screen_extensions(struct dri_screen *screen,
                            struct pipe_screen *pscreen,
                            bool is_kms_screen)
   const __DRIextension **nExt;

   STATIC_ASSERT(sizeof(screen->screen_extensions) >=
   memcpy(&screen->screen_extensions, dri_screen_extensions_base,
   screen->extensions = screen->screen_extensions;

   /* Point nExt at the end of the extension list */
   nExt = &screen->screen_extensions[ARRAY_SIZE(dri_screen_extensions_base)];

   screen->image_extension = dri2ImageExtensionTempl;
   if (pscreen->resource_create_with_modifiers) {
      screen->image_extension.createImageWithModifiers =
      screen->image_extension.createImageWithModifiers2 =

I’m not sure why createImageWithModifiers is skipped for me. Is it a mesa bug? Is it expected because video card does not expose enough information on tile format for mesa to reuse? I have no idea!

Anyway, from the above I was able to fix wine-wayland with one simple trick by pretending there are no modifiers (assume LINEAR?):

--- a/dlls/winewayland.drv/gbm.c
+++ b/dlls/winewayland.drv/gbm.c
@@ -286,13 +286,20 @@ struct gbm_surface *wayland_gbm_create_surface(uint32_t drm_format, int width, i

     if (count_modifiers)
+        errno = 0;
+        struct gbm_surface * s =
-        return gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2(process_gbm_device, width, height,
+               gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2(process_gbm_device, width, height,
                                                   drm_format, modifiers, count_modifiers, gbm_bo_flags);
-        return gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers(process_gbm_device, width, height,
+               gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers(process_gbm_device, width, height,
                                                  drm_format, modifiers, count_modifiers);
+        if (!s && errno == ENOSYS) {
+            TRACE("    => mesa can't create a surface with modifiers. Falling back to modifer-less.");
+        } else {
+            return s;
+        }

     return gbm_surface_create(process_gbm_device, width, height, drm_format, gbm_bo_flags);

The idea is to just ignore gbm_surface_create_with_modifiers2()’s result if it fails with ENOSYS and switch over to gbm_surface_create() assuming it can handle the the call without modifier presence.

I’m not sure what such a fallback means for other video card types. Will it break some tiled workloads? Or at this point surface creation is already broken beyond repair and any try is better than nothing? I have no idea!

With the hack I unexpectedly got my games back running on wine-wayland!

I sent above hack to Alexandros to get help where the real fix belongs. Hopefully we can get wine-wayland to work on more GPUs than today.

Parting words

Vanilla wine still has to run via Xwayland and it’s not the best experience for some picky applications. wine-wayland does a very decent job at providing something that works (modulo cards like mine). After I applied the fallback hack I was able to run all the games that used to work on wine-x11.

wine’s WINEDEBUG= debugging facility is great at tracing both application behaviour and wine’s driver behaviour. I had to add surprisingly little extra debugging to what is already available in wine in form of TRACE(...); calls.

wine’s error message was clear enough to understand why video rendering did not produce anything.

nix’s ability to build patched wine against patched mesa without destroying existing installation was critical for me to be able to do side-by-side comparisons.

mesa’s LIBGL_DRIVERS_PATH= and libglvnd’s __EGL_VENDOR_LIBRARY_DIRS= variables are ideal at fiddling with patched opengl stack while keeping the main system running.

wine’s and wayland’s way of handling linux DRM subsystem is very lightweiht: they effectively pass available configuration around without much of application-specific mangling. At least around surface creation logic. That was very easy to get through.

Have fun!