Compare GLFW vs SDL and see what are their differences.


A multi-platform library for OpenGL, OpenGL ES, Vulkan, window and input (by glfw)


Simple Directmedia Layer (by libsdl-org)
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78 195
12,332 8,400
2.0% 4.7%
9.3 10.0
5 days ago 4 days ago
zlib License zlib License
The number of mentions indicates the total number of mentions that we've tracked plus the number of user suggested alternatives.
Stars - the number of stars that a project has on GitHub. Growth - month over month growth in stars.
Activity is a relative number indicating how actively a project is being developed. Recent commits have higher weight than older ones.
For example, an activity of 9.0 indicates that a project is amongst the top 10% of the most actively developed projects that we are tracking.


Posts with mentions or reviews of GLFW. We have used some of these posts to build our list of alternatives and similar projects. The last one was on 2024-03-16.
  • macOS 14.4 causes JVM crashes
    2 projects | | 16 Mar 2024
    Minecraft runs on various Javas.

    And there's a known issue with an interaction between minecraft, Java, and the video drivers that crashes out and it can be traced back all the way to here:

    It's not fixed.

  • Technical Considerations for GUI Toolkits [Discussion]
    1 project | /r/compsci | 11 Dec 2023
    Window context manager - glfw, sdl
    2 projects | /r/learnprogramming | 11 Dec 2023
    Types of tools for creating a gui (and how those tools approximately work): 1. Utilize the native _graphical interface API_, and depending on the platform, they have specific layers to interface: * Wayland, X11, for Linux * [GDI]( for windows * [Quartz](\_(graphics\_layer)) for macOS Example - GTK uses [wayland]( ([source code]( [X11]( ([source code]( GDI ([source code]( Quartz ([source code]( [How to use wayland display server]( (TODO missing "animation" section) 2. Utilize opengl _or other low level graphics api's_ with window context, use GPU to render widgets * Window context manager - [glfw](, [sdl]( * contexts and surfaces, reading input, handling events Example: ImGui, NanoVG, Nuklear, raylib Why? Mainly used for game development, but also good for gui's. _(i haven't seen any examples that uses this method that are used for developing general-use graphical user interfaces.)_
  • How to set-up GLFW 3.3.8 with C++ visual studio community 2022?
    1 project | /r/gamedev | 10 Dec 2023
  • Exploring Computer Graphics: Weekly Chronicle #1
    5 projects | | 16 Oct 2023
    GLFW: A library for window creation and managing user input.
  • New Vulkan Documentation Website
    10 projects | | 11 Oct 2023
    Not SDL2, but GLFW has something like that under the tests/ directory:

  • LWJGL = SFML vs Allegro vs SDL vs Ogre vs ???
    2 projects | /r/opengl | 5 Jul 2023
    I'm not familiar with LWJGL, my 5 seconds on their website makes me think you might be looking for something like GLFW to handle I/O and window creation/management.
  • I have spent two whole work days trying to install GLEW
    6 projects | /r/GraphicsProgramming | 3 Jul 2023
    Consider GLFW3 for windowing and GLAD for function loading. I've used this combination myself successfully. Granted, that is "two things" you need, but OTOH it'll work well.
  • OpenGL (GLFW and GLAD) not linking with cmake
    2 projects | /r/cmake | 30 May 2023
    There is a pattern to it which is usable with every GitHub repository. For example, GLFW v3.3.8 can be fetched from:
  • Help
    1 project | /r/cpp_questions | 24 May 2023
    That is a static or import library for glfw. You need add the path to the directory where this file is located to the "library directories", see:


Posts with mentions or reviews of SDL. We have used some of these posts to build our list of alternatives and similar projects. The last one was on 2024-04-19.
  • 12to11 – run Wayland applications on an X server
    1 project | | 27 Apr 2024
    Wayland works well on the Steam Deck because Valve controls the whole system. Because they have their own Wayland compositor (Gamescope), they're able to implement protocols to work around issues in Wayland without being delayed by the bureaucratic process of getting them approved. Here's an SDL pull request where a graphics developer at Valve discusses how two protocols necessary for good GPU performance haven't been added to Wayland yet so Valve added equivalent protocols to Gamescope as a workaround:

    One thing to note is that the Steam Deck only uses Wayland for its fullscreen gaming mode. When you exit to its desktop mode (meant for running non-Steam software), it switches to X11.

  • C-Macs – a pure C macOS application
    11 projects | | 19 Apr 2024
    The linked project doesn't use any ObjC files at all. SDL2 has a bunch of Cocoa files[1] so you did use Cocoa even if unknowingly.


  • Revert "video: Prefer Wayland over X11 (take 2)"
    4 projects | | 24 Mar 2024
    Correct. It's explained here:

    XWayland has special hooks into the compositors that normal wayland clients don't get.

  • Semantic Patching in C with Coccinelle
    1 project | | 16 Dec 2023
    Found about this through the release of SDL 3:
  • reflect-cpp - Now with compile time extraction of field names from structs and enums using C++-20.
    9 projects | /r/cpp | 9 Dec 2023
  • BBC Basic returns on multiple platforms, open sourced
    3 projects | | 29 Nov 2023
    If that app ran in a 640x480 mode, memory accesses would be just as fast as the VGA applications 25 years ago, correct?

    I think there's a lot more going on than that. Here's SDL's current pixel access code:

  • Games! How they write code for SDL (+ interview with the creator)
    1 project | | 17 Nov 2023
    We use the code examples throughout the article. The ellipsis characters "...." in the code were added by the author of the article. You can find the source files on the official GitHub of libsdl. In addition, each fragment has a reference to a specific area in the code. By the time this article is published, many errors will have already been fixed thanks to the issues we opened (for example, here and there). However, the links in the examples point exactly to the code you see in this article. Not only do we enjoy teasing developers but we also like making their projects a little bit better!
  • Regarding including external libraries and prefix folders.
    1 project | /r/cpp_questions | 30 Sep 2023
    FetchContent_Declare(SDL2 GIT_REPOSITORY GIT_TAG release-2.28.3 ) FetchContent_MakeAvailable(SDL2)
  • SDL3 Filesystem API RFC
    1 project | | 18 Aug 2023
  • Chip8 emulator
    2 projects | /r/EmuDev | 17 Aug 2023
    It's not that difficult, I recently started learning to use graphics APIs myself. OpenGL is for linux, etc., directx for windows and vulkan for all platforms. I read through a bunch of forums yesterday and decided to go for vulkan (here is a link to the sdk) for my next small projects because it can run on all platforms. I would recommend to watch a basic tutorial series (like this one) for the graphics api itself to get an understanding of whats going on. And on top of that I use SDL2 for eventhandling and ImGui for the graphical user interface. Here is a link to a guide for setting up vulkan on your platform in case you would go for it.

What are some alternatives?

When comparing GLFW and SDL you can also consider the following projects:

bgfx - Cross-platform, graphics API agnostic, "Bring Your Own Engine/Framework" style rendering library.

raylib - A simple and easy-to-use library to enjoy videogames programming

glad - Multi-Language Vulkan/GL/GLES/EGL/GLX/WGL Loader-Generator based on the official specs.

Godot - Godot Engine – Multi-platform 2D and 3D game engine

Skia - Skia is a complete 2D graphic library for drawing Text, Geometries, and Images.

olcPixelGameEngine - The official distribution of olcPixelGameEngine, a tool used in javidx9's YouTube videos and projects

OpenSceneGraph - OpenSceneGraph git repository

DS4Windows - Like those other ds4tools, but sexier

Ogre 3D - scene-oriented, flexible 3D engine (C++, Python, C#, Java)

DualSenseSupport - Preliminar DualSense

learn-wgpu - Guide for using gfx-rs's wgpu library.