SDL2 Display on host platform


The sdl display platform allows you to use create an ESPHome display on a desktop system running Linux or MacOS. This is particularly useful for designing display layouts, since compiling and running a host binary is much faster than compiling for and flashing a microcontroller target system.

# Example configuration entry
  name: sdl


  - platform: sdl
    show_test_card: true
      width: 450
      height: 600

Configuration variables:

  • lambda (Optional, lambda): The lambda to use for rendering the content on the display. See Display Rendering Engine for more information.

  • update_interval (Optional, Time): The interval to re-draw the screen. Defaults to 1s.

  • sdl_options (Optional, string): Build arguments if required to specify include or library paths. Should not be required if SDL2 is properly installed.

  • pages (Optional, list): Show pages instead of a single lambda. See Display Pages.

  • id (Optional, ID): Manually specify the ID used for code generation.


To build with this display you must have the SDL2 package installed. The Sodium encryption library will also be required for any API calls. See below for installation hints.

MacOS SDL2 Installation

The easiest way to install SDL2 on MacOS is using homebrew:

brew install sdl2 libsodium

It may also be necessary to run the command:

brew link sdl2 libsodium

To ensure that the files are symlinked correctly. You can check installation with the command sdl2-config --libs --cflags.

You will need the XCode command-line tools installed to build for the host platform.

Linux SDL2 Installation

On Debian/Ubuntu derived Linux systems you can install with apt; also check that you have the necessary build tools installed, and you must be using a desktop system with a graphic display.

apt install libsdl2-dev libsodium-dev build-essential git

You can check installation with the command sdl2-config --libs --cflags.

Microsoft Windows

Although SDL2 is supported, natively running ESPHome on Windows isn’t easy. However the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) can be used to install and use a Linux development environment on Windows, which will enable use of ESPHome and SDL2 as per the Linux instructions above. See for more information on WSL.

Build and run

The esphome run yourfile.yaml command will compile and automatically run the build file on the host platform.

See Also