Mesa is an open source collection of three-dimensional (3D) graphics libraries with the main goal of implementing various APIs (Application Programming Interface) and the OpenGL specification under Linux/UNIX operating systems. It is geared towards 3D computer graphics, hardware-accelerated 3D rendering and general-purpose computing on graphics processing units (GPGPU). In addition, the project also provides an implementation of software rendering.
Provides OpenGL support to Linux and UNIX platforms
Mesa can be used in a wide range of environments, grazing from complete hardware acceleration for modern graphics processing units to traditional software emulation, based on a plethora of device drivers. The project provides OpenGL support to Linux and UNIX platforms on top of an existing X.Org (X11 Window System) display server, and ties into other open source projects, including the Direct Rendering Infrastructure (DRI).
Mesa or the Mesa 3D graphics library
Because of legal reasons, users shouldn’t refer to the Mesa library as MesaGL. It’s just Mesa or the Mesa 3D graphics library. By default, it’s supported on Linux and FreeBSD operating systems, as well as other Unices. Mesa was initially created in August 1993 by Brian E. Paul, a computer programmer awarded with the Free Software Award by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). He’s still maintaining the project, which is now hosted by freedesktop.org.
It’s included by default in many Linux distributions
During all of these years, the Mesa 3D graphics library received contributions from major companies like Intel, VMware and AMD, as well as various talented developers. By now, Mesa is included by default in many Linux distributions. If not, it is automatically installed along with open source or proprietary video drivers for Intel, Nvidia and AMD/ATI graphics cards.
An interesting fact is that when one tries to remove the main Mesa package from a Linux installation, it will draw after it so many other important applications, core components and libraries that the system will no longer be useful.