How to enable WebGL in Google Chrome in Linux with a blacklisted graphics card

Update 19/05/2013: Andy pointed out in a comment here that there’s an easier way to do this with current versions of Chrome.

  • Go to chrome://flags
  • Enable the flag “Override software rendering list”.
  • Restart Chrome
Just like Andy points out, this «accomplishes the same thing, but via Chrome/Chromium settings and it is saved so doesn’t require running via terminal or editing a shortcut parameters.» Thanks for the tip, Andy!

Google Maps has a new toy: 3D maps using WebGL. They have both 3D rendered buildings (on some cities) and “3D” satellite imagery (which is basically aerial photos taken from four different angles and you can rotate through them). They actually make further use of WebGL, as they provide hardware accelerated image transitions and some other stuff.

Since Chrome 15 just came out as stable, I thought that maybe this would work, because I thought I read somewhere that WebGL would be enabled by default from now on. This works fine in Firefox, as WebGL in Firefox for Linux is enabled by default since version 4, if I recall correctly, but unfortunately for me, Google Chrome for Linux doesn’t have WebGL enabled by default.

I knew from a long time ago, when Google Chrome’s WebGL support was in its early stages, that you could enable it by executing Google Chrome from a command line and passing it the parameter –enable-webgl, so I decided to give it a try - no luck. Going to chrome://gpu/ still said I didn’t have any graphics hardware acceleration.

But I also noticed that it said something about ATI graphics cards being buggy in Linux. I have had mine for over a year and I don’t complain but then again, I’m not a heavy user of 3D stuff on Linux. But still, it smelled funny, so I googled it a little and there it was: looks like Google Chrome has a blacklist of graphics cards which make it disable the hardware graphics acceleration. I didn’t even check if mine was on the list, since I immediately found this other command line parameter: –ignore-gpu-blacklist

So I closed Chrome, opened a command line window, entered google-chrome –enable-webgl –ignore-gpu-blacklist and bam, there it was, Chrome on Linux using hardware acceleration with my (supposedly) banned ATI graphics card.

Now let’s see if I can find any use for the new 3D stuff on Google Maps or all those cool looking WebGL experiments… :)