Facebook’s latest VR headset, Oculus Quest 2, isn’t jailbroken yet, however one developer is offering up $5,000 to anyone capable of freeing the device from Facebook services. Now, Oculus founder and ex-Facebook exec Palmer Luckey says he’ll be throwing $5,000 in the hat too in effort to attract would-be jailbreakers.
Update (October 19th, 2020): Palmer Luckey tweeted late last week that he’d match Robert Long’s $5,000 bounty, an unusual turn of events for the driving force behind Oculus and employee at Facebook after its acquisition in 2014.
Luckey, who was ousted from Facebook in 2017, has also personally backed projects such as Revive, which lets you play Oculus exclusives on other SteamVR headsets, and SideQuest, the unofficial library of games and apps for the Quest platform.
Long reckons there’s more out there looking to donate to the cause, and says he’s researching on how best to start a crowdfunding campaign. We’ll be following this closely, so check back soon for more as the story develops.
Original Article (October 15th, 2020): Facebook’s walled garden approach to its Quest app store has already been subverted somewhat by projects like SideQuest, an unofficial library for Quest games and apps. There’s still no getting around Oculus services or the need for a valid Facebook account to use Quest 2 though, which is why Robert Long, a senior software engineer at Mozilla working on WebXR, is offering up $5,000 to anyone who can successfully jailbreak Facebook’s latest standalone headset.
Long, who currently works on WebXR tools at Mozilla and previously at AltspaceVR, initially offered the $5,000 to anyone who could jailbreak the original Oculus Quest, but nobody was able to get root access and implement custom firmware on the now out-of-production device.
With the entrance of Quest 2, and now obligatory Facebook account requirement for all new users, he’s transferred that reward money to the new device.
I’m still offering $5000 for a Quest 2 jailbreak! Jailbreakers, dm me. Let’s break free of FB’s anti-competitive, anti-privacy ecosystem! https://t.co/TYI0Uy1YsF
— Robert Long (@arobertlong) October 14, 2020
“I will no longer be working on VR projects for the Oculus platform. Including Oculus Browser specific WebXR features,” Long said back when Facebook first announced the policy change in August. “If a Facebook account will be required for me to develop on Oculus’ platform then I’m not interested in supporting them further.”
Long wants to see root access, something he says will allow users to replace and modify Oculus Home, remove the Facebook login requirement, and allow for unofficial stores like SideQuest to take the place of the Oculus Store—essentially the same level of access granted to basically any Android device.
“Modifying background services to remove any FB telemetry would be nice as well,” he continues.
With its recent change in account policy, Facebook now has the power to ban and suspend users based on individual behavior, platform-wide, both in and outside of the headset. This is very likely the reason behind why you can’t buy Oculus products in Germany, although the company hasn’t said such officially.
Whether for ill or good, if you don’t play nice, or aren’t able to provide your identity to the satisfaction of the company, you risk losing not only access to your library of games, but also possibly the functionality of the entire headset—including its ability to be used as a PC VR headset via Link on Steam, effectively making it a very interesting paper weight.
In terms of smartphones, in many countries jailbreaking isn’t illegal, although large platform holders like Facebook can easily give you the cold shoulder on future support should you decide to do so. Whatever the case, as more users come to VR there’s bound to be an ever growing talent pool of prospective jailbreakers interested in mucking around where Facebook simply doesn’t want them to.