Game Programming with the Simple DirectMedia Layer
Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL, www.libsdl.org) is a simple, yet powerful, cross-platform game and multimedia development library. The library was developed by Sam Latinga while he was working for Loki Software, Inc. and was used in their commercial game projects. SDL was developed to meet the needs of game developers working in a multi-OS environment and was used in the Linux versions of Maelstrom, Hopkins FBI, Civilization: Call to Power, Descent 2, MythII: Soulblighter, Railroad Tycoon II, Tux Racer and many more. The SDL web site lists hundreds of games and applications written using SDL.
SDL officially supports Linux, Windows, BeOS, Mac OS, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, BSD/OS, Solaris and IRIX. SDL also works with Windows CE, AmigaOS, Atari, QNX, NetBSD, AIX, Tru64 UNIX and SymbianOS. However, those OSes are not yet officially supported. This means if you write your application using SDL, you can port it with minimal rework to all those OSes. SDL provides a portable way to write games and multimedia applications on every major OS currently in use.
If you are using a recent version of Linux, you probably have a complete SDL installation. In fact, a quick check of /usr/bin using ldd on my Red Hat 8.0 system found eight programs that depend on SDL.
The following commands show whether the SDL libraries and C/C++ include files are installed on your system:
locate SDL.h locate libSDL locate sdl-config
If all of these commands report the file was found, most likely you have a complete SDL installation, and you need only to make sure it is up to date. The sdl-config program checks the SDL version and acquires compile and link flags for your SDL applications. If sdl-config was found, run:
sdl-config --versionto see which version of SDL you have. If sdl-config reports a version less than 1.2.4, you should install newer libraries. Like most open-source projects, SDL is under constant development, so if you are using SDL for development, check for new versions regularly or join one of the SDL mailing lists to keep track of library updates.
If SDL is not installed, you need to download and install it. Your distribution probably has precompiled SDL packages, so you can check your regular source of packages first. If it's up to date, the easiest way to get started is to install the devel or dev packages for SDL from your distribution.
The file sdl-install.sh included with the source code used in this article is a shell script that downloads and installs version 1.2.5 of SDL and all its add-on libraries. The script must be run as root in the directory where you want the source for SDL. The script downloads the following:
SDL—the core of SDL (www.libsdl.org/download.php)
SDL_net—the network I/O library (www.libsdl.org/projects/SDL_net)
SDL_image—the image reading library (www.libsdl.org/projects/SDL_image)
SDL_mixer—the sound file loading and mixing library (www.libsdl.org/projects/SDL_mixer)
SDL_ttf—the TrueType font library (www.libsdl.org/projects/SDL_ttf)
If you don't use sdl-install.sh, visit the web pages listed above, download the files, unpack them and follow the instructions in the appropriate README files to install the libraries. Test your new installation by running:
sdl-config --versionIf it doesn't run or gives a version number lower than the version you installed, the installation didn't work. In my experience, this happens when I don't follow the instructions or leave an old version of SDL installed in a different place. If locate sdl-config lists more than one location, either delete the old SDL installation, something I hate to do, or re-install over the old version. The sdl-install.sh file shows how to use ./configure --prefix to install SDL anywhere you want, but it's safest and easiest to install in the default location.
SDL documentation can be found at www.libsdl.org/docs.php. On-line documents are at sdldoc.csn.ul.ie. Support library documentation is either linked from their download pages, included with the source code or embedded in the .h files. Sample programs are included with SDL, and its support libraries are great starting places for your own projects.
|Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform||Jan 23, 2015|
|Designing with Linux||Jan 22, 2015|
|Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch||Jan 21, 2015|
|Ideal Backups with zbackup||Jan 19, 2015|
|Non-Linux FOSS: Animation Made Easy||Jan 14, 2015|
|Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next||Jan 12, 2015|
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.1 beta available on IBM Power Platform
- Designing with Linux
- Getting Started with PiTiVi
- Video Production 101: Making a Movie with Kdenlive
- Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch
- Ideal Backups with zbackup
- Internet of Things Blows Away CES, and it May Be Hunting for YOU Next
- Betting on Darwin
- Slow System? iotop Is Your Friend
- New Products
Editorial Advisory Panel
Thank you to our 2014 Editorial Advisors!
- Jeff Parent
- Brad Baillio
- Nick Baronian
- Steve Case
- Chadalavada Kalyana
- Caleb Cullen
- Keir Davis
- Michael Eager
- Nick Faltys
- Dennis Frey
- Philip Jacob
- Jay Kruizenga
- Steve Marquez
- Dave McAllister
- Craig Oda
- Mike Roberts
- Chris Stark
- Patrick Swartz
- David Lynch
- Alicia Gibb
- Thomas Quinlan
- Carson McDonald
- Kristen Shoemaker
- Charnell Luchich
- James Walker
- Victor Gregorio
- Hari Boukis
- Brian Conner
- David Lane