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Memory Mapped Machine

mmm is a shared memory protocol for virtualising access to framebuffer graphics, audio output and input event. The mmm project provides a C library and a couple of sample hosts. Both clients and hosts can be statically linked, thus permitting a small static binary to be used with hosts for multiple different environments. Once the ABI is frozen; mmm clients could be a convenient way to distribute stand-alone GUI applications, that only rely on a framebuffer.


  • 32bit/pixel (resizable) framebuffer
  • PCM data output signed 16bit float and stereo
  • events
    • pointer events
    • utf8 keyboard events
    • messages from host to client
  • messages (perhaps rename to commands?)
    • free form; to send messages from client to host(s)
  • minimal dependencies

Desirable additions

  • use of select instead of polling for events
  • add a minimal functional window manager to hosts
  • add support for more linux fbdev bpps
  • more hosts for more ui systems/platforms (drm, wayland)


The mmm library provides code for clients and hosts to create and interact with such machines/files through mmap. The API is exposed through the mmm.h header.

A simple example that fills the framebuffer with some generated pixel values is in the examples/test.c file. An even simpler minimal client not using the mmm library is the examples/raw-client.c example, it treats the shared memory as a peek and poke-able region with the stable offsets of the data structure as addresses.


mmm uses a client/host model - where a separate process is responsible for displaying the graphics, playing/mixing the audio and gathering input events.

This split makes the clients independent of host specific libraries needed to display (for X, wayland, SDL or similar) - only the host binary needs to have links to these platform specific libraries, it is even possible to shut down one host and later start another that interacts with the client(s).

The host and client communicate through a single file. The client is responsible for creating, and growing, the file. While the host is responsible for deleting the file, when the pid of the child is no longer running.

If no host exists (MMM_PATH environment variable is not set), the client will spawn a host process for hosting itself - with the mmm command (a shell-script that dispatches to different hosts, for easier debugging/configuration).


The hosts supplied with mmm are, for now, only suitable for hosting a single mmm client.

Linux framebuffer

Directly interacts with standard input, /dev/input/mice and /dev/fb0 or /dev/graphics/fb0, a yields a small self self-contained binary that works with 16,24 and 32 bit framebuffers.

SDL 1.2

Permits running under a wide range of environments, linux X11, mac, linux fbdev, wayland through X11.

Third party

The API provided by libmmm is sufficient to implement multiplexing window managers, which is what micro raptor gui uses for its client processes.


Memory Mapped Machine




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