Video acceleration is a crucial feature for any modern web browser. It allows for smoother playback of high-definition videos while consuming less CPU power, leading to better laptop battery life and a more responsive system overall.
In a significant development, the pull request for Chromium to enable accelerated video decoding using VA-API (Video Acceleration API) on Wayland has been finally merged.
That was a long-anticipated addition to the Linux ecosystem. As we enter 2024, it may not be the year we finally see “Linux on the desktop” become a widespread reality, but it’s shaping up to be the year of “Wayland on Linux.”
In light of this, the VaapiWrapper, a crucial component in this system, has been revised to eliminate the need for libva-x11 and the legacy VaapiVideoDecodeAccelerator in Chromium, shifting the focus to libva-drm (Direct Rendering Manager) exclusively.
This means that Linux Ozone/Wayland can now share the same code path as Linux Ozone/X11, effectively unifying the experience across different Linux environments for everyday users. For those not in the know, Ozone is a platform abstraction layer beneath Chromium’s Aura window system used for low-level input and graphics.
The recent change list outlines the technical details of this advancement. It includes the removal of the remaining libva-x11 codes from Ozone and VaapiWrapper. But more importantly, it enables VA-API by default on Linux Ozone/Wayland.
This is a significant step towards improving the performance and capabilities of Linux systems running Wayland, particularly in handling video decoding tasks more efficiently.
It will bring Linux users betting on Chromium as their everyday browser on par with those on other platforms like Windows and macOS, where browser-based video acceleration has been a standard feature for some time.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that the other major player in the Linux browser field, Firefox, already offers hardware video acceleration on Wayland. But now Chromium has also joined the family, which is excellent news for all Linux enthusiasts.