Video decoding acceleration in Linux

So I noticed deplorable battery life watching youtube et al in browser. Went down the rabbit hole to figure out why.

It occurred to me that hardware video decoding (intel quick sync) should be working, which should save precious battery. With standard intel device drivers I proved that hardware video acceleration works with vlc and intel-gpu-tools (using intel_gpu_top, quick sync isnt working if there is nothing under video% ). Curiously, neither Firefox or Chrome have working hardware video acceleration.

which lead me here…

and here…

and here…

I am currently using Fedora 35. I have proven that OpenGL works with glxgears. I have set flags as needed in chrome and firefox to no avail (I now understand, firefox lacks the correct implementation to use the Intel Xe graphics). I am not opposed to using another supported distro, was going to test with Ubuntu 21.10 later.

I ask, has anyone else gotten any browser video acceleration working? If so what distro and what setup?

will crosspost to r/framework on reddit…


I managed on Chrome (96.0.4664.45, Arch Linux 5.15.5, libva 2.13.0).

After also digging for a while, I mostly followed this post. Note that YouTube usually serves videos encoded with AV1. As pointed out here, you may want to install an extension to force the use of a codec known to be supported for hardware decoding.

Even though the Framework’s GPU should support AV1 decoding, it seems the software support will be coming in mesa 21.3. At least my Arch setup is still at mesa 2.2.5, which I hope explains why AV1 is still not decoded in hardware.

I start Chrome with google-chrome-stable --use-gl=egl --enable-features=VaapiVideoDecoder, and if I look at “about:gpu”, I can see Video Decode: Hardware accelerated, as well as (scrolling down) a number of entries in the table under the section “Video Acceleration Information”:

Decoding (VideoDecoder)	
Decode h264 baseline	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode h264 main	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode h264 high	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode vp8	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode vp9 profile0	16x16 to 16384x16384 pixels
Decoding (Legacy VideoDecodeAccelerator)	
Decode h264 baseline	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode h264 main	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode h264 high	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode vp8	16x16 to 4096x4096 pixels
Decode vp9 profile0	16x16 to 16384x16384 pixels

I hope this helps.

For reference here are my details…

Fedora 35 kernel 5.15.4-201
Chrome 96.0.4664.45
libva 2.13.0
Graphics driver 21.3.4
mesa 21.2.5 (I think you had a typo)

I was curious about that myself… looking at vainfo, it seems there is an entry for VAProfileAV1Profile0… so according to the vaapi it should support AV1.

It seems that all of the “common” codecs Youtube uses “should” be supported in vaapi, which is what Chrome uses.

Interestingly… based on your recommendation… I just tried a handful of videos.
It seems it is “working” for vp9, vp8 and h264… but not avc1.

Thanks for the reply none the less. I hope between my sources and yours, this helps someone else

I guess we wait for updates to Mesa?

Woops, yeah, I made a type on the mesa version. Mine is the same as yours. Fingers crossed things will work after 21.3. I agree the hardware is capable of hardware decoding.

Even with the various flags I’ve been unable to get VAAPI decoding working in Chrome on Wayland… I can get to where it says video decode is hardware accelerated, but nothing is listed under acceleration information, and as expected there’s no actual acceleration happening in that situation.

I’m not too worried about it but it’s vaguely annoying.

I may sound like a crotchety old man, but… ewh wayland.

I have a few other applications that dont play nice with wayland, so I have to use X11.

for what its worth… you may try these program flags with chrome and see if it helps

google-chrome --use-gl=egl --ozone-platform=wayland

now get off my lawn… sorry old man came out again

I don’t know that it’s possible with the ozone Wayland backend… Looks like there’s a patched version on the AUR to enable it. Maybe you could try some of the other flags listed in the FAQ at the below link? I can give them a try tomorrow. Edit: I can’t get it working with the additional flags, but if you’re on arch you could try using the linked patched version.

the flags are different depending on if you are using Wayland or X11.

I got my setup with X11 to work using:
google-chrome --use-gl=desktop --enable-features=VaapiVideoDecoder

I dont use wayland, so I cant verify, but according to my research, this should work:
google-chrome --use-gl=egl --ozone-platform=wayland

you may or may not need --enable-features=VaapiVideoDecoder depending on chrome version and or patch level.

I believe thats what the chromium-wayland-vaapi is all about, enabling the “–enable-features=VaapiVideoDecoder” feature permanently without needing a flag.

Since I use full google-chrome-stable, I need the enable Vaapi flag, since google took away internal program flag.

In the end… google needs to treat linux chrome less crappy and we’ll be happier.

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I’ll chime in here for the firefox perspective. It currently will work on stable with today’s firefox 96 release! They finally fixed the Xe graphics sandboxing issues (relevant issue: 1698778 - RDD/VAAPI: Sandbox: seccomp sandbox violation by syscall 16 (DRM_IOCTL_VERSION)).


Nice! What settings did you apply to firefox in order to make it work?

See this: Firefox - ArchWiki. Arch wiki is a great resource even if not using arch Linux. I’m using following about:config flags:

media.ffmpeg.vaapi.enabled = true
media.navigator.mediadatadecoder_vpx_enabled = true
media.rdd-ffmpeg.enabled = true

Sigh… it’s not working for me. Need to figure out why vaapi isn’t starting. (manjaro on wayland here)

libva info: VA-API version 1.13.0
libva info: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/
libva info: Found init function __vaDriverInit_1_7
libva error: /usr/lib/dri/ init failed
libva info: va_openDriver() returns -1

edit: figured it out. Needed to install the intel-media-driver package


I’ve actually already done this and yet on mine it still doesn’t work :confused: I’ll check again later and see the results
Whoops forgot to install intel-media-driver LOL!
It’s now working great on both FFox and Chromium (ungoogled-chromium) :slight_smile:

Yeah it’s the Wayland flags specifically that do not work properly. I believe that version of chromium on the AUR that I linked is patched so that the flags will work, though I haven’t tried since it takes time to compile.