Objective

Install and test Vulkan.

Distributions

This guide covers current versions of Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, and Arch.

Requirements

A working install of one of the covered distributions with root privileges and current graphics drivers.

Difficulty

Easy

Conventions

  • # - requires given linux command to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
  • $ - given linux command to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Introduction

Vulkan is the future of graphics on Linux. It's the next generation replacement for OpenGL, and the performance improvements are immediately apparent. Vulkan was written from the ground up to be more usable for developers, which has spawned a host of great projects that take advantage of Vulkan's potential.

For most people, Vulkan means better gaming experiences, and it's already delivering on that. Games like DoTA 2 have been utilizing Vulkan for some time now, and new projects, like DXVK, are helping Linux users play their favorite games from Windows like never before.

Setting up Vulkan is fairly easy on every distribution, regardless of your graphics card.

Install Vulkan

Obviously, the first step in taking advantage of all Vulkan has to offer is installing it.


Debian

AMD If you don't mind doing something a bit crazy and experimental, you can follow the Ubuntu procedure to get the latest versions of Mesa. Otherwise, just run the linux command below.
# apt install libvulkan1 mesa-vulkan-drivers vulkan-utils
NVIDIA Download and install the latest drivers from NVIDIA. They include Vulkan support. Also, install Debian's Vulkan utilties.
# apt install vulkan-utils

Ubuntu

AMD It's best to enable a PPA for the latest Mesa drivers. There is a PPA that packages and releases the latest changes straight from Mesa's Git. Add the PPA to your system and update. Then, upgrade your system. It will automatically upgrade your existing Mesa packages.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:oibaf/graphics-drivers
$ sudo apt update
$ sudo apt upgrade
When it's done, install the Vulkan packages.
# apt install libvulkan1 mesa-vulkan-drivers vulkan-utils
NVIDIA Ubuntu also has a great repository for the NVIDIA proprietary drivers. Add it to your system, and update Apt.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa
$ sudo apt upgrade
Now, install your drivers and Vulkan.
$ sudo apt install nvidia-graphics-drivers-396 nvidia-settings vulkan vulkan-utils

Fedora

AMD You should already have the latest AMD drivers installed on your computer. Install the Vulkan packages.
# dnf install vulkan vulkan-info
NVIDIA The proprietary NVIDIA drivers are available from the RPMFusion repository. Add it to your system, if you haven't already.
# dnf install https://download1.rpmfusion.org/free/fedora/rpmfusion-free-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm https://download1.rpmfusion.org/nonfree/fedora/rpmfusion-nonfree-release-$(rpm -E %fedora).noarch.rpm
Then, install the drivers with Vulkan.
# dnf install xorg-x11-drv-nvidia akmod-nvidia vulkan vulkan-tools


OpenSUSE

AMD You should already have the latest available AMD drivers on your system. Install the Vulkan packages with zypper.
# zypper in vulkan libvulkan1 vulkan-utils mesa-vulkan-drivers
NVIDIA Head over to the the OpenSUSE documentation, and follow the procedure for your version of OpenSUSE. When you have your drivers, install the Vulkan packages.
# zypper in vulkan libvulkan1 vulkan-utils

Arch Linux

AMD You already have the latest AMD Mesa drivers. Just install Vulkan support.
# pacman -S vulkan-radeon lib32-vulkan-radeon
NVIDIA Install the NVIDIA drivers. They include Vulkan support.
# pacman -S nvidia lib32-nvidia-utils

Vulkan Info

Vulkan Info
Vulkan Info
The first ting that you can do to ensure that you have Vulkan installed and working on your system is run the vulkaninfo command to pull up relevant information about your system. If you get info about your graphics card, you'll know that Vulkan is working.
$ vulkaninfo | less

DoTA 2

There's another more practical way to see how Vulkan performs on your system. You can install and play DoTA 2. It's one of the first Linux games to support Vulkan completely, and it's free to play. The only thing you need is a Steam account.

First, install Steam on your system. It's available on all the distributions above. When you have Steam, you can install DoTA 2 easily enough.

Vulkan DoTA 2 Client
Vulkan DoTA 2 Client


When you have DoTA 2, you can see a series of checkboxes on the main game page. Check the one for Vulkan support. Steam will start downloading it.

Vulkan DoTA 2 Settings
Vulkan DoTA 2 Settings
Start up DoTA 2, and open up the settings. Change the graphics API to Vulkan, and restart the game. When DoTA 2 starts back up, it'll be running with Vulkan. Play the game a bit to test it out.

Closing Thoughts

You are now running Vulkan on your Linux desktop. If you followed along through DoTA 2, you already have a working game making use of it. All the other Vulkan based tools and programs are also open to you now too, including using it with Wine and DXVK. That opens up plenty of new games to play on your system.

Vulkan support is only getting better. More games are making use of it, and other Linux utilities are stepping up too. Wine is actually even developing support for DirextX 12 with Vulkan too. Keep your system updated and enjoy the progress.


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