Fixing Zoom’s Screen Sharing on Debian Unstable

Zoom has a native Linux client which supports screen sharing in Wayland, at least on some platforms. Today when I tried to start a Share Screen I encountered the following error:

Error when trying to start Share Screen

Can not start share, we only support Wayland on GNOME with Ubuntu 17 and above, Fedora 25 and above, Debian 9 and above, CentOS 8 and above, OpenSUSE Leap 15 and above, Oracle Linux 8 and above, Arch Linux, AnterGos, Manjaro. If your OS is not on the list, please use x11 instead.

The feature works for me when I’m using Debian Stable (Buster), and also worked for the short while I’ve used Debian Testing (Bullseye). So, I guessed that the feature is broken due to wrong OS version detection. The fix is easy: Remove /etc/os-release (which is by default a symlink to /usr/lib/os-release) and append to the original contents the following lines:

VERSION_ID="99"
VERSION="99 (sid)"
VERSION_CODENAME="sid"

So the entire file should look like:

PRETTY_NAME="Debian GNU/Linux bullseye/sid"
NAME="Debian GNU/Linux"
ID=debian
HOME_URL="https://www.debian.org/"
SUPPORT_URL="https://www.debian.org/support"
BUG_REPORT_URL="https://bugs.debian.org/"
VERSION_ID="99"
VERSION="99 (sid)"
VERSION_CODENAME="sid"

Why it works?

When I first encountered the error, I guessed Zoom doesn’t actually attempt the Share Screen, but relies on a pre-configured list of supported distros and (minimal) versions. It worked for me with Debian Stable (10) and Testing (11), but what version number is Unstable? Debian Unstable doesn’t have a version number associated with it, so it must be the problem.

A quick strace revealed how Zoom retrieves the current distro name and version:

$ strace -f -tt zoom
...
107498 11:20:58.943764 openat(AT_FDCWD, "/etc/os-release", O_RDONLY|O_CLOEXEC
107513 11:20:58.943771 futex(0x565257f88760, FUTEX_WAIT_BITSET_PRIVATE|FUTEX_CLOCK_REALTIME, 0, {tv_sec=1592727659, tv_nsec=303765000}, FUTEX_BITSET_MATCH_ANY
107498 11:20:58.943779 <… openat resumed>) = 17
107498 11:20:58.943787 fcntl(17, F_SETFD, FD_CLOEXEC) = 0
107498 11:20:58.943802 fstat(17, {st_mode=S_IFREG|0644, st_size=200, …}) = 0
107498 11:20:58.943817 read(17, "PRETTY_NAME=\"Debian GNU/Linux bu"…, 200) = 200
...

As you can see Zoom reads (and probably later parses) the entire /etc/os-release file. This file contains identification data for the current running distro including name and version. Because Debian Sid doesn’t have the version variables set, Zoom erroneously misinterpret it as an old version instead of the newest. Thus, it refuses to enable the Share Screen feature. Adding the relevant version variables solves this issue.

See also: man os-release (5)

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