The SDL is an open source multimedia toolkit being developed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). It is an attempt to create an open source library that provides functionality similar to Microsoft's DirectX APIs for Win32. There are currently versions of SDL under development for Linux, Win32, and BeOS. Unofficial ports and proposed platforms include Solaris, IRIX, FreeBSD, and MacOS.

The author is Sam Lantinga who is the lead programmer for Loki Entertainment Software. SDL is based upon some of his experience in porting games to Linux for them.

The main website is: (thanks WWWWolf)

LibSDL is currently at version 1.2, and is indeed one of the coolest APIs around for cross-platform game/multimedia development. Certainly more working in Linux than certain other libraries were a few years back...

Personally, I chose SDL for my own little project lately for simple reason: It lets me to use OpenGL for 3D graphics, but it has considerably more advanced and more easily programmable 2D graphics primitives than OpenGL. (Fast blits and such...) I was noticing that it can also blit 2D graphics on OpenGL screen, which would be a great bonus because I lost several weeks worth of sleep trying to use OpenGL and GLUT for drawing simple 2D bitmaps on screen... =(

Basically, SDL is an equivalent of DirectX that can be - and have been - ported to other OSes besides Microsoft Windows. In the Great War between OpenGL and DirectX, people forgot that OpenGL is just a graphics API, while DirectX has all sort of stuff including joystick reading, 3D sound, and stuff like that...

SDL can do following things:

Currently, it runs on Linux, Win32, BeOS and MacOS (including MacOS X).

Only specific problems I've seen - from user's point of view - has been that full screen mode may be somewhat buggy in X, but that's hardly news...

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