Adding OpenGL/GPU support to a snap

Some applications and games use OpenGL, Vulkan or CUDA libraries to access GPU(s). Typically, snapped applications require three things to make this possible.

  1. Including additional user space GPU libraries.
  2. Initialising those libraries before your application starts.
  3. Permitting access using the opengl interface.

This document explains how to do this.

Include user space GPU libraries

You need to include the appropriate user space “drivers” in the snap to expose OpenGL/GPU capabilities. All that is typically required is the libglu1-mesa package. Add this to the stage-packages of the part of your application.

      - libglu1-mesa

Configure environment

Graphical applications and GPU libraries require environment configuration to function correctly. The desktop helpers project provides scripts that do additional setup to ensure toolkits, audio stacks and graphics drivers are correctly configured when your application starts. If your application uses GTK, Qt, or another desktop toolkit, then follow the instructions for that toolkit. The desktop-launch script for that toolkit will also take care of GPU library configuration.

If your application, like most games, does not use a common desktop toolkit, then you can use the desktop-glib-only helper to do the initialisation of desktop features such as GPU, sound and fonts. The first step is to include a dependency on the desktop-glib-only part in the part of your application.

      - desktop-glib-only

The next step is to copy the desktop-glib-only part from the desktop helpers snapcraft.yaml file.

  # This part installs the glib dependencies and a `desktop-launch` script to initialise
  # desktop-specific features such as OpenGL, fonts, themes and the XDG environment.
  # It is copied from the snapcraft desktop helpers project and the `source` key is
  # changed to point to
  # Please periodically check the desktop helpers repo for updates and copy the changes.
    source-subdir: glib-only
    <copy the rest of this part from the desktop helpers snapcraft.yaml>

If none if the prebuilt helpers are suitable for your application, you can create a helper script yourself. See the sommelier script in the Track Mania Nation Forever snap as an example.

Permit access to GPU hardware

The snap sandbox doesn’t allow access to GPU hardware by default. You can enable this access by adding the opengl interface to the plugs section of your application in apps.

      - opengl

Learn more about interfaces and the available plugs. Including other desktop interfaces might be required, for example to connect to the X server.

More information


Related to the opengl interface, maybe this could explicitly mention CUDA to help with discoverability.

Good idea - thanks for adding that. I might try and run through this as I don’t think I’ve tested it for a while.

The post above suggests that libglu1-mesa would be needed for GPGPU access via CUDA, but based on my observation I believe this is not strictly necessary: I have just as part of packaging up Install ollama on Linux | Snap Store ( for the changes, presently on a fork of the repo) only added the opengl plug and ollama happily utilises the GPU (based on nvidia-smi indicating memory having been allocated and log messages from the strictly confined ollama noting the path to the system’s libnvidia-ml library it is accessing).

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