While SteamOS 3.4.6 upgraded Mesa to 23.1, it didn’t include faster shader compilation improvements. At least, not out of the box. I’ve noticed it myself; shader compilation times are just as ridiculous as it was before.

But here’s the good news: a merge request now enables the VK_EXT_graphics_pipeline_library extension by default. This is thanks for Samuel Pitoiset, who’s a part of Valve’s Linux graphics driver team. While you previously had to set the proper environment variables, this extension will now be enabled by default with Mesa 23.1.

I won’t get into too much detail regarding the MR itself, as it’s a bit over my head, but basically, according to Phoronix, this feature “should help with game load times and stutter avoidance.”

Only problem now is we’re going to have to wait a while before Mesa 23.1 becomes stable – the earliest we can expect is May 3rd. And who knows how long it will take after that before Valve decides to push an update out for SteamOS to include the stable release. In the meantime though, I guess you could compile Mesa from source to get this benefit immediately, if you’re feeling brave enough.

Cover image credit: Steam Deck Gaming