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The EGL External Platform interface
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mvicomoya Add driver version to EGLExtDriver
External platforms might need to know what the underyling EGL driver
version is at initialization time, before EGL_VERSION can be queried
with a dummy EGLDisplay.

This change extends the external interface by adding major and minor
fields to EGLExtDriver.

Signed-off-by: Miguel A Vico Moya <>
Reviewed-by: Daniel Kartch <>
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EGL External Platform Interface


This is a work-in-progress specification of the EGL External Platform interface for writing EGL platforms and their interactions with modern window systems on top of existing low-level EGL platform implementations. This keeps window system implementation specifics out of EGL drivers by using application-facing EGL functions.

Examples of low-level EGL platforms are EGL_EXT_platform_device or EGL_KHR_platform_gbm.

Installing the interface

This is a headers-only specification of the interface.

To install the interface, just copy the header files under a certain system headers directory (e.g. /usr/include).

A template eglexternalplatform.pc pkg-config is provided along with the header files. It can be edited to match the location of the header files and copied to an appropriate pkg-config configuration directory (e.g. /usr/share/pkgconfig).


The following terms are used throughout this README file:

  • EGL driver

    An implementation of the full EGL API, either as a vendor library loaded by GLVND, or as a standalone library linked against by applications.

  • EGL platform

    A rendering system an EGL driver can support at runtime. An EGL platform may refer to a window system (e.g. X11, Wayland) or a headless rendering platform (e.g. EGLDevice, GBM).

    See section 2.1 "Native Platforms and Rendering APIs" of the EGL 1.5 specification, or EGL_EXT_platform_base extension.

  • EGL platform library

    An implementation of a single EGL External Platform interface on top of interfaces provided by an EGL driver.

  • EGL entrypoint layer

    Thin layer sitting on top of an EGL driver internal implementation that will dispatch calls coming from applications (or GLVND) to either an EGL platform library or the EGL driver itself.

  • EGL External Platform interface

    Set of functions, hooks, and data structures definitions an EGL entrypoint layer will use to interact with EGL platform libraries.

  • EGL external & internal object handle

    An external object handle refers to the EGL object handle given to the application. These may be provided by either an EGL platform library or the EGL driver, depending on what platform the object belongs to.

    In turn, an internal object handle refers to the EGL object handle that only the EGL driver internal implementation understands.

Interface walk-through

All functions and hooks of an EGL platform library are made available either as an exports table or dynamically loaded hooks to the EGL entrypoint layer. A special entry point loadEGLExternalPlatform() function must be used to load all exports and data of a given EGL platform library.

loadEGLExternalPlatform() takes major and minor numbers corresponding to the version of the EGL External Platform interface the EGL entrypoint layer will use to interact with the loaded platform. This provides a means for both the interface and EGL platform libraries to evolve separately in a backwards compatible way.

Different types of functions and hooks are defined and described below. Unless otherwise specified, the following functions are made available as an exports table to the EGL entrypoint layer:

  • Pure EGL hooks

    They are intended to be used in replacement of application-facing EGL functions. Pure EGL hooks are not provided as entries of the external exports table, but are retrieved dynamically with the 'getHookAddress()' export. An EGL platform library can provide a hook for most of the application-facing functions the EGL entrypoint layer is aware of.

    Examples of these are, among others, hooks for eglCreatePlatformWindowSurface() or eglSwapBuffers().

  • Derivatives of EGL functions

    These are variations of application-facing EGL functions that may require extra parameters or will have a sligthly different behavior in order to help the EGL entrypoint layer operate in presence of EGL platform libraries.

    An example of these is queryString() which is symmetric to eglQueryString(), but a new EGLExtPlatformString enum is given for the string name instead. It helps eglQueryString() to return the appropriate extension string depending on what EGL platform libraries are available, for instance.

  • External object validation functions

    The goal of this type of function is to help the EGL entrypoint layer to determine which EGL platform library should handle which calls when opaque native resources are given.

    An example of these functions is isValidNativeDisplay(), which helps eglGetDisplay().

  • External -> Internal object translation functions

    Whenever non-externally implemented EGL functions are called, translation from external (EGL platform library) object handles to internal (EGL driver) ones is required.

    getInternalHandle() returns the EGL internal handle of a given external object.

  • Callbacks

    Sometimes, there might be operations that require execution of non-application-facing code within the EGL platform library. The EGL External Platform interface provides a means for registering callbacks in such cases.

    Unlike the previously described functions, which are implemented by an EGL platform library and made available to the EGL entrypoint layer, these callbacks allow the latter to register EGL driver functions with the former.

    An example of these is the eglSetError() callback that allows EGL platform libraries to set EGL error codes to be queried by the application in case of failure.

More detailed information of every symbol the EGL External Platform interface defines can be found in the interface/eglexternalplatform.h file.

Interactions with the EGL driver

Discovery and registration of EGL platform libraries is the EGL entrypoint layer's responsibility. What discovery method to use is specific to each implementation, but it is advisable to use something portable and fully configurable (see JSON-based vendor libraries loader in GLVND).

The initial interaction of an EGL entrypoint layer with an EGL platform library happens with loadEGLExternalPlatform(). This function allows to retrieve both the exports table and data such as the platform enumeration value. It also provides a means for the EGL entrypoint layer to pass in an EGL driver imports structure such that EGL platform libraries can fetch any driver methods they may require to use.

loadEGLExternalPlatform() takes major and minor numbers corresponding to the version of the EGL External Platform interface the EGL entrypoint layer will use. The EGL platform library must then check those numbers against the interface version it implements, and return the appropriate exports and data (or fail if versions are not compatible).

EGL platform libraries may initialize their own private platform data structure at load time to be given to the EGL entrypoint layer. The EGL entrypoint layer will in turn pass the structure to all export and hook functions which take another platform's EGLDisplay, or which do not take an EGLDisplay as input (client extensions).

All EGLDisplay creation operations will be forwarded to the EGL platform library getPlatformDisplay() export. This gives the EGL entrypoint layer the ability to track which EGLDisplay belongs to which platform in order to dispatch subsequent functions.

All EGLSurface creation operations will also be forwarded to the appropriate EGL platform library hooks. They are required to be externally implemented for applications to be able to present buffers onto a surface.

Any other EGL object creation operation can be also hooked, but the internal handle must be always returned.

Note that, by design, all object creation operations must be hooked for objects that are currently required to be externally backed (EGLDisplay and EGLSurface).

Some functions need to be handled by a particular EGL platform library, but either do not take an EGLDisplay handle or take an EGLDisplay handle that belongs to a different platform. These functions will require special handling, which will be defined on a case-by-case basis. For example, eglGetDisplay() uses the isValidNativeDisplay() export in order to determine what EGL platform library to use, and then the getPlatformDisplay() export to actually create the display.

The following diagram illustrates the control flow between an application, the EGL driver, and two different EGL platform libraries:

|                               |
|         Application           |
|                               |
|              |                |       +------------------------+
|  EGL driver  |                |       |                        |
|              |                |  +----> EGL platform library A +-----+
|  +-----------v-------------+  |  |    |                        |     |
|  |                         |  |  |    +------------------------+     |
|  |  EGL entrypoint layer   +-----+                                   |
|  |                         |  |  |    +------------------------+     |
|  +-----------+-------------+  |  |    |                        |     |
|              |                |  +----> EGL platform library B +--+  |
|              |                |       |                        |  |  |
|  +-----------v-------------+  |       +------------------------+  |  |
|  |                         |  |                                   |  |
|  |                         |  |                                   |  |
|  |                         <--------------------------------------+  |
|  |   EGL driver internal   |  |                                      |
|  |                         |  |                                      |
|  |                         <-----------------------------------------+
|  |                         |  |
|  +-------------------------+  |
|                               |

Sample code

In order to illustrate how to use the EGL External Platform interface, a few files with sample code can be found under the 'samples' folder:

  • 'samples/sample-egl-server.c':

    Sample code for a display server working on top of the EGLStream family of extensions.

  • 'samples/sample-egl-client.c':

    Sample code for an EGL application that would run on Foo window system.

  • 'samples/libsample-egl-platform.c':

    Sample code for an EGL External Platform implementation that would add EGL_PLATFORM_SAMPLE support on top of EGLStream family of extensions.

Note that these source files are incomplete, and are not intended to be used as-is.

Also, the NVIDIA Wayland implementation can be found at:


Thanks to James Jones for the original implementation of the Wayland external platform that led to the design of the EGL External Platform infrastructure.

EGL External Platform interface

The EGL External Platform interface itself is licensed as follows:

Copyright (c) 2016, NVIDIA CORPORATION. All rights reserved.

Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a
copy of this software and associated documentation files (the "Software"),
to deal in the Software without restriction, including without limitation
the rights to use, copy, modify, merge, publish, distribute, sublicense,
and/or sell copies of the Software, and to permit persons to whom the
Software is furnished to do so, subject to the following conditions:

The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in
all copies or substantial portions of the Software.

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