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0.2.2 Jul 2, 2023
0.2.1 Jun 15, 2023
0.2.0 Jun 15, 2023
0.1.0 May 26, 2023

#82 in GUI

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Used in 12 crates (via softbuffer)

MIT OR Apache-2.0 OR Zlib

389 lines


A tiny set of bindings to the Xlib library.

The primary contemporary library for handling Xlib is the x11-dl crate. However, there are three primary issues.

  1. You should not be using Xlib in 2023. Xlib is legacy code, and even that doesn't get across how poor the API decisions that it's locked itself into are. It has a global error hook for some reason, thread-safety is a mess, and it has so many soundness holes it might as well be made out of swiss cheese. You should not be using Xlib. If you have to use Xlib, you should just run all of your logic using the much more sound XCB library, or, even more ideally, something like x11rb. Then, you take the Display pointer and use it for whatever legacy API you've locked yourself into, and use XCB or x11rb for everything else. Yes, I just called GLX a legacy API. It's the 2020's now. Vulkan and wgpu run everywhere aside from legacy machines. Not to mention, they support XCB.

  2. Even if you manage to use x11-dl without tripping over the legacy API, it is a massive crate. Xlib comes with quite a few functions, most of which are unnecessary in the 21st century. Even if you don't use any of these and just stick to XCB, you still pay the price for it. Binaries that use x11-dl need to dedicate a significant amount of their binary and memory space to the library. Even on Release builds, I have recorded x11-dl taking up to seven percent of the binary.

  3. Global error handling. Xlib has a single global error hook. This is reminiscent of the Unix signal handling API, in that it makes it difficult to create well-modularized programs since they will fight with each-other over the error handlers. However, unlike the signal handling API, there is no way to tell if you're replacing an existing error hook.

tiny-xlib aims to solve all of these problems. It provides a safe API around Xlib that is conducive to being handed off to both XCB APIs and legacy Xlib APIs. The library only imports absolutely necessary functions. In addition, it also provides a common API for handling errors in a safe, modular way.


  • Safe API around Xlib. See the Display structure.
  • Minimal set of dependencies.
  • Implements AsRawXcbConnection, which allows it to be used with XCB APIs.
  • Modular error handling.


  • Any API outside of opening Displays and handling errors. If this library doesn't support some feature, it's probably intentional. You should use XCB or x11rb instead. This includes:
  • Window management.
  • Any extensions outside of Xlib-xcb.
  • IME handling.
  • Hardware rendering.


use as_raw_xcb_connection::AsRawXcbConnection;
use tiny_xlib::Display;

use x11rb::connection::Connection;
use x11rb::xcb_ffi::XCBConnection;

// Open a display.
let display = Display::new(None)?;

// Get the XCB connection.
let xcb_conn = display.as_raw_xcb_connection();

// Use that pointer to create a new XCB connection.
let xcb_conn = unsafe {
    XCBConnection::from_raw_xcb_connection(xcb_conn.cast(), false)?

// Register a handler for X11 errors.
tiny_xlib::register_error_handler(Box::new(|_, error| {
    println!("X11 error: {:?}", error);

// Do whatever you want with the XCB connection.
loop {
    println!("Event: {:?}", xcb_conn.wait_for_event()?);


Licensed under either of

at your option.


Unless you explicitly state otherwise, any contribution intentionally submitted for inclusion in the work by you, as defined in the Apache-2.0 license, shall be dual licensed as above, without any additional terms or conditions.


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