Backends & Renderers

In Slint, a backend is the module that encapsulates the interaction with the operating system, in particular the windowing sub-system. Multiple backends can be compiled into Slint and one backend is selected for use at run-time on application start-up. You can configure Slint without any built-in backends, and instead develop your own backend by implementing Slint’s platform abstraction and window adapter interfaces.

The backend is selected as follows:

  1. The developer provides their own backend and sets it programmatically.

  2. Else, the backend is selected by the value of the SLINT_BACKEND environment variable, if it is set.

  3. Else, backends are tried for initialization in the following order:

    1. qt

    2. winit

    3. linuxkms

The following table provides an overview over the built-in backends. For more information about the backend’s capabilities and their configuration options, see the respective sub-pages.

Backend Name Description Built-in by Default
qt The Qt library is used for windowing system integration, rendering, and native widget styling. On Linux if Qt is installed
winit The winit library is used to interact with the windowing system. Yes
linuxkms Linux's KMS/DRI infrastructure is used for rendering. No windowing system or compositor is required. No

A backend is also responsible for selecting a renderer. See the Renderers section for an overview. Override the choice of renderer by adding the name to the SLINT_BACKEND environment variable, separated by a dash. For example if you want to choose the winit backend in combination with the software renderer, set SLINT_BACKEND=winit-software. Similarly, SLINT_BACKEND=linuxkms-skia chooses the linuxkms backend and then instructs the LinuxKMS backend to use Skia for rendering.


Slint comes with different renderers that use different techniques and libraries to turn your scene of elements into pixels. Slint picks a renderer backend on your choice of Backend as well as the features you’ve selected at Slint compilation time.

Qt Renderer

The Qt renderer comes with the Qt backend and renders using QPainter:

  • Software rendering, no GPU acceleration.

  • Available only in the Qt backend.

Software Renderer

  • Runs anywhere, highly portable, and lightweight.

  • Software rendering, no GPU acceleration.

  • Supports partial rendering.

  • Supports line-by-line rendering (Rust only).

  • Suitable for Microcontrollers.

  • Some features haven’t been implemented yet:

    • No support for Path.

    • No image rotation or smooth scaling.

    • No support for drop-shadow-* properties.

    • No support for border-radius in combination with clip: true.

    • No circular gradients.

    • No text stroking/outlining.

  • Text rendering currently limited to western scripts.

  • Available in the Winit backend.

  • Public Rust and C++ API.

FemtoVG Renderer

  • Highly portable.

  • GPU acceleration with OpenGL (required).

  • Text and path rendering quality sometimes sub-optimal.

  • Available in the Winit backend and LinuxKMS backend.

  • Public Rust API.

Skia Renderer

  • Sophisticated GPU acceleration with OpenGL, Metal, Vulkan, and Direct3D.

  • Heavy disk-footprint compared to other renderers.

  • Available in the Winit backend and LinuxKMS backend.

  • Public C++ API.


You may run into compile issues when enabling the Skia renderer. The following sections track issues we’re aware of and how to resolve them.

  • Compilation error on Windows with messages about multiple source files and unused linker input

    You may see compile errors that contain this error and warning from clang-cl:

     clang-cl: error: cannot specify '/Foobj/src/fonts/fontmgr_win.SkFontMgr_indirect.obj' when compiling multiple source files
     clang-cl: warning: Hausmann/.cargo/registry/src/ 'linker' input unused [-Wunused-command-line-argument]

    The Skia sources are checked out in a path that’s managed by Cargo, the Rust package manager. The error happens when that path contains spaces. By default that’s in %HOMEPATH%\.cargo, which contains spaces if the login name contains spaces. To resolve this issue, set the CARGO_HOME environment variable to a path without spaces, such as c:\cargo_home.

  • Compilation error when compiling for ARMv7 with hardware floating-pointer support

    You may see compiler errors that contain this message:

     Unable to generate bindings: ClangDiagnostic("/home/runner/work/slint/yocto-sdk/sysroots/cortexa15t2hf-neon-poky-linux-gnueabi/usr/include/gnu/stubs-32.h:7:11: fatal error: 'gnu/stubs-soft.h' file not found\n")

    The Skia build invokes clang in multiple occasions and is sensitive to compiler flags that affect the floating point abi (such as -mfloat-abi=hard), as they affect header file lookups.

    The solve this, set the BINDGEN_EXTRA_CLANG_ARGS environment variable to contain the same flags that your build environment also passes to the C++ compiler.

    For example, if you’re building against a Yocto SDK, then you can find these flags in the OECORE_TUNE_CCARGS environment variable.

  • Compilation error when linking on Windows

    You may see compiler errors that contain this message:

     error: linking with `link.exe` failed: exit code: 1120
    = note: skunicode.lib(icu.SkLoadICU.obj) : error LNK2019: unresolved external symbol __std_init_once_begin_initialize_clr referenced in function "bool __cdecl SkLoadICU(void)" (?SkLoadICU@@YA_NXZ)
      skia.lib(skia.SkNWayCanvas.obj) : error LNK2001: unresolved external symbol __std_find_trivial_8

    The Skia build requires the use of Microsoft Visual Studio 2022 as compiler. Make sure to have the latest patches to the compiler installed.

  • Compilation error on macOS:

The build fails and somewhere in the log output you see this message:

cargo:warning=xcrun: error: unable to lookup item 'PlatformVersion' from command line tools installation
cargo:warning=xcrun: error: unable to lookup item 'PlatformVersion' in SDK '/Library/Developer/CommandLineTools/SDKs/MacOSX.sdk'

This is due the build process calling xcrun --show-sdk-platform-version to determine the SDK version, and that’s unfortunately not supported by the Xcode command line tools. To solve this issue, run the following command once:

sudo xcode-select -switch /Applications/