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Building Mesa on Arch Linux

Currently users of AMD GPUs have two options to get decent performance on yuzu. One could use the Vulkan backend in Windows, however this comes with poor stability as yuzu’s Vulkan implementation lacks proper memory management. The other option is to use the OpenGL backend in Linux with Mesa’s open-source RadeonSI driver. Decent stability can be achieved on Linux, but the current stable version of Mesa found in most Linux distributions causes unrecoverable crashes in many games on yuzu. Some crashes are caused by an old Mesa version, and many more are caused by the old, stable version of LLVM required by Mesa to compile shaders.

Most crashes are solved upstream on both Mesa and LLVM, so this is a guide about installing the latest LLVM and Mesa versions to an Arch Linux or Manjaro computer.

Preparations

For this guide, either an install of Arch Linux or any distro derived from Arch Linux, such as Manjaro, is necessary to follow along. If you are a beginner with Linux, Manjaro is easier to set up and install to your computer than Arch Linux, and it can be downloaded here. Arch Linux can be found here. General setup of the operating system is outside the scope of this guide, but here is Manjaro’s installation guide, and here is Arch Linux’s installation guide.

Once installed, update your packages with pacman, the package manager in Arch Linux.

sudo pacman -Syu

There are a few dependencies needed to complete this guide, as well. Run the following command to install the dependencies. If you have already followed yuzu’s Building for Linux guide, then this next step is unnecessary.

sudo pacman -S --needed git base-devel

Using Chaotic-AUR to Install llvm-git

The first step is to add the Chaotic-AUR repository to your machine. This will give us access to a daily build of llvm-git (version 12.0.0 as of writing), which we need for building mesa-git later. Append following to the end /etc/pacman.conf:

[chaotic-aur]
# Brazil
Server = http://lonewolf-builder.duckdns.org/$repo/x86_64
# Germany
Server = http://chaotic.bangl.de/$repo/x86_64
# USA (Cloudflare proxy)
Server = https://repo.kitsuna.net/x86_64

This can be done so by opening /etc/pacman.conf in your terminal with a text editor, i.e.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf

Then copy the repository information into the editor. It is suggested to move the URL of the closest server to the top of this list.

Since Chaotic-AUR is a signed repository, its keys need to be added and signed:

sudo pacman-key --keyserver hkps://hkps.pool.sks-keyservers.net -r 3056513887B78AEB 8A9E14A07010F7E3
sudo pacman-key --lsign-key 3056513887B78AEB
sudo pacman-key --lsign-key 8A9E14A07010F7E3 

Afterwards, update your package lists and packages:

sudo pacman -Syu

LLVM will be installed later automatically when mesa-git is being built. This section was just setup to make that happen later.

Chaotic-AUR provides access to many packages, including mesa-tkg-git and mesa-aco-git. Do not install Mesa from Chaotic-AUR. These packages are updated daily, and while there is nothing wrong with them in their own right, they use LLVM stable (version 10) which is not suitable for yuzu.

Installing mesa-git

The next step is building Mesa from source. Clone the mesa-git build script from the Arch User Repository:

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/mesa-git.git

Then change the working directory over to the newly cloned directory:

cd mesa-git

This gives us a PKGBUILD, a script that helps us build a package (hence the name).

In order to use the daily version of LLVM from Chaotic-AUR, the environment variable MESA_WHICH_LLVM needs to be set to 3. Without it, mesa-git is configured to build with the stable version of LLVM. Run makepkg from inside the mesa-git directory to build and install Mesa:

MESA_WHICH_LLVM=3 makepkg -si

makepkg will run pacman during the install and require credentials. It will ask to install llvm-git, llvm-libs-git, and clang-git over llvm, llvm-libs, and clang, respectively. Press y and hit ENTER to allow it to do so for each package. mesa-git should take a while to build.

Once it has finished building, it may ask for credentials again. pacman will ask to replace more packages. Press y and hit ENTER to allow it to replace these with mesa-git. Once pacman finishes installing it, mesa-git should be installed. Restart your machine to let all the changes take effect.

Verify the Installation

To verify that the build was successful, run glxinfo in the terminal and watch the LLVM version in your renderer string:

glxinfo | grep "OpenGL renderer"

The command output should be similar to this, adjusted for your own graphics card:

OpenGL renderer string: AMD Radeon (TM) R5 340 (OLAND, DRM 3.37.0, 5.7.12-arch1-1, LLVM 12.0.0)

Of particular note is the LLVM version. If it is greater than or equal to 12.0.0, then the installation was successful.

Updating mesa-git

After a some time has passed, improvements to Mesa will happen upstream and become available. Updating mesa-git requires ensuring the PKGBUILD is updated and then running makepkg again.

Ensure the PKGBUILD is updated:

cd mesa-git
git pull

Then run makepkg again:

MESA_WHICH_LLVM=3 makepkg -si

Optional: Prevent pacman From Updating mesa-git Automatically

Though mesa-git is now installed, running sudo pacman -Syu right now will overwrite the package with one from a repository (likely mesa-aco-git from Chaotic-AUR). To prevent this, pacman needs to ignore that package for updates. Edit the IgnorePkg line in /etc/pacman.conf:

#IgnorePkg   =

Add mesa-git to this list and remove the comment marker # if need be:

IgnorePkg   = mesa-git

Use commas to separate multiple package names if other packages are already listed there.

It is important to note this will freeze the mesa-git version. This means if other packages update around it, then the installed mesa-git version may become incompatible with the rest of the system. Update mesa-git from time-to-time following the guide above.

Conclusion

yuzu will be much more stable on an AMD GPU now with the updated Mesa and LLVM versions. Some games cannot be helped for now, like crashes in Fire Emblem: Three Houses or rendering issues in Pokemon: Sword/Shield, but most other games will crash far less frequently. Any concerns/questions had in this guide can be discussed on the yuzu forum or in our Discord server.

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