The beta channels for the Steam client and SteamVR now support Linux. As a development build, the selection of Linux-supported SteamVR games is very limited, but Valve says the build aims to let developers begin making VR content that supports the open source operating system.

Valve recently provided some positive news for VR on Linux, which has been fairly limited since Oculus ‘paused’ its Linux development in 2015. Announced late last year, Valve has launched of a SteamVR developer build for Linux. According to the GitHub page, “This is a development release. It is intended to allow developers to start creating SteamVR content for Linux platforms. Limited hardware support is provided, and pre-release drivers are required”.

Linux support is long overdue (it was originally planned to be available at the HTC Vive’s launch), and according to Michael Larabel, founder of Phoronix, a leading source of Linux-related reviews and insights, the beta is—as Valve warns that it is a development release—‘more like an early alpha’, and took quite some time to configure and get things working. Larabel points out that Linux represents a very small percentage of the overall gaming market share, making Linux VR gaming currently a niche-within-a-niche situation that will take some time to gain traction.

Valve recommends using the issue tracker on the project’s GitHub page for reporting specific bugs, while general discussion and questions are handled on the Steam Community forum. In the long run, there is hope for significantly improved Linux support resulting from the recently-named OpenXR API, and industry-derived open standard for VR and AR from the Khronos Group, which aims to stem hardware and software fragmentation in as the industry continues to grow.

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The trial version of Microsoft’s Monster Truck Madness probably had something to do with it. And certainly the original Super Mario Kart and Gran Turismo. A car nut from an early age, Dominic was always drawn to racing games above all other genres. Now a seasoned driving simulation enthusiast, and former editor of Sim Racer magazine, Dominic has followed virtual reality developments with keen interest, as cockpit-based simulation is a perfect match for the technology. Conditions could hardly be more ideal, a scientist once said. Writing about simulators lead him to Road to VR, whose broad coverage of the industry revealed the bigger picture and limitless potential of the medium. Passionate about technology and a lifelong PC gamer, Dominic suffers from the ‘tweak for days’ PC gaming condition, where he plays the same section over and over at every possible combination of visual settings to find the right balance between fidelity and performance. Based within The Fens of Lincolnshire (it’s very flat), Dominic can sometimes be found marvelling at the real world’s ‘draw distance’, wishing virtual technologies would catch up.
  • VR Geek

    We have been wanting to get off Windoze for a long time and have been waiting for this. Finally!!!

    • Sam Illingworth

      Umm, I don’t think this is that :(

      • Sam Illingworth

        Wish it was!

      • VR Geek

        Not yet :-(

        • PrymeFactor

          Not for the next decade :(

    • wheeler

      Not sure if your main is linux, but if your motherboard and CPU support it (namely IOMMU and KVM support, integrated graphics, and two USB controllers … not that unusual) , I highly recommend setting up a windows VM and passthrough the dedicated GPU, USB controller, and whatever else you can to the guest OS. If you configure things appropriately you can acheive about 97% of “native” performance. If you’ve got an 8 core (virtual or–even better–physical) it’s like running two fully fledged desktops simultaneously.

      I “only” have a 4 core CPU, but with a combination of cpu isolation and virtual CPU pinning one can divy up the cores between the host and guest at runtime (without restarting). For example, in my case I selectively either (a) dedicate all 4 exclusively to the host or (b) dedicate 3 exclusively to the guest and share 1 core between the host and guest. All of the benefits of linux, none of the hair pulling of windows (in the context of productivity, development, or making your OS work for you), and you still get your games. You can load up all of your gaming applications in the windows guest OS, put the guest to sleep, and almost instantaneously transition back and forth between your gaming setup and your “real” OS.

      With libvirt and UEFI firmware compatible OSs it’s not really that difficult to setup. See here:

    • Guest

      They just want you to help them debug bleeding edge crap that they will just plow back into Windoze if it works. Don’t waste your time.

  • Foreign Devil

    Unless the games you buy on Steam all run in Linux. . it’s a waste of time. . nobody is running Linux.

    • rabs

      Most people interested into this don’t plan to run games, but their professional applications that were using CAVEs and so.

      Though I’m mainly running Linux on my home computer as well, so I hope to play some VR games without having to reboot…

  • Great… the more open is the VR ecosystem, the better

  • Nigerian Wizard

    Yay now the 2 people worldwide who wanted to run Linux and play VR can start developing.

    • Rosten

      Yep, Gabe Newell and me, we’re pretty happy. You know, that Gabe Newell who’s playing the long game and wins most of the time. That same Gabe that once said “Linux is the future of gaming”:

      • PrymeFactor

        Win ratio took a dive when Steam OS failed woefully.

        • Rosten

          I told you he plays the long game. They’re not done with SteamOS, thus this piece of news. Steam itself was deemed a failure at its beginning by most people.

          • PrymeFactor

            So VR, itself a niche field, is what will save SteamOS?

            What are you people smoking?

            It’ll take a Herculean task to convince any OEM to jump in with SteamOS hardware now after the likes of Dell had to firesale all the devices nobody wanted.

            As soon as the doomsday scenario Gabe was prophesying for Windows never happened, SteamOS was dead in the water.

          • Michael Speth

            I really dislike people like you and I enjoy proving you people wrong.