Introduction to SVGAlib

SVGAlib is a low-level graphics library that provides VGA and SVGA modes in a console. This is useful for programs running on a console that require graphics capabilities.

Package information

Installation of SVGAlib



You must compile and install as root. If you don't, certain tools won't be able to become SUID root which is required for proper operation. However, this raises a risk of exposing your system to any holes in those tools that might be used to gain root access, so use with caution.

Install SVGAlib by running the following commands:

patch -Np1 -i ../svgalib-1.4.3-gcc3-1.patch &&
make prefix=/usr install &&
cd doc &&
for dir in man?; do for file in $dir/*; do \
gunzip /usr/share/man/$file; done; done

Command explanations

cd doc && for dir in man?; do for file in $dir/*; do gunzip /usr/share/man/$file; done; done: SVGAlib installs its man pages in compressed format so we uncompress them.

Configuring SVGAlib

Config files

/etc/vga/libvga.config, ~/.svgalibrc

Configuration information

You must edit the config file to set the monitor and mouse type. Depending on your hardware, other setup might be required.

As with most libraries, there is no configuration to do, save that the library directory i.e., /opt/lib or /usr/local/lib should appear in /etc/ so that ldd can find the shared libraries. After checking that this is the case, /sbin/ldconfig should be run while logged in as root.


The SVGAlib package contains libvga and libvgagl libraries, dumpreg, mode3, restorefont, restorepalette, restoretextmode, savetextmode, textmode and svgakeymap.


libvga library

libvga is a low-level graphics library.

libvgagl library

libvgagl is a fast frame buffer level graphics library based on libvga.


dumpreg dumps the state of the card as the svgalib chipset driver sees it.


mode3 sets a VESA mode.


restorefont saves or restores the SVGA font for textmode.


restorepalette sets the color palette for textmode.


restoretextmode saves or restores the SVGA registers for textmode.

savetextmode, textmode

savetextmode and textmode save or restore the complete SVGA status for textmode.


svgakeymap generates keymaps for svgalib.