Why Google Chrome web browser is gray when 10-bit color is enabled and how to fix it
August 31, 2023
After enabling 10-bit color depth on Linux, you may find that some applications turn gray. For some of them, this cannot be fixed, but in Google Chrome you can select the correct color profile, which will make it possible to watch HDR videos on YouTube, while all other websites will have normal brightness.
The Google Chrome web browser and Chromium are some of the few applications that support “HDR content”. Apparently, the Google Chrome browser determines that HDR is activated on the computer by the presence of 10-bit color depth. And it works correctly on Windows.
As for Linux, 10-bit color depth ≠ HDR. But Google Chrome does not know about this and goes into HDR mode, which in practice means a gray darkened web browser window.
The situation can be corrected not only by switching to another web browser, but also by choosing a different color profile. To do this, in Google Chrome, enter in the address bar:
Use the search to find the “Force color profile” flag.
By brute force, I found out that when selecting the “Display P3 D65” option, the web browser does not try to use HDR, but does take advantage of 10-bit color. That is, if you select “Display P3 D65”, you will be able to watch HDR videos on YouTube. However, HDR videos do not appear too dark (as is usually the case with HDR content on hardware or operating systems that do not support HDR).
After restarting the web browser, the gray color issue is resolved:
After this setup, you will be able to watch HDR videos on YouTube. You will find several test HDR videos in the article: What you need to pay attention to when buying a TV (monitor) for HDR
The “Default” color profile means to use the OS color profile – you can return to this setting at any time if you wish.
At first, the “scRGB linear (HDR where available)” color profile seemed promising to me. This option means that the normal RGB profile will be used for all pages, but if HDR is available, this mode will be used. That is, all websites will look normal, and when watching a video, HDR mode will be automatically available. This is in theory. In practice on Linux, all websites with this profile have been found to be too bright, and HDR content too dark.
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