Valve is planning to introduce beta versions of its SteamVR platform for Mac OSX and Linux users within a few months.

One thing’s for sure, if you’re a PC user wanting to indulge in a spot of immersive entertainment right now, the choice of operating systems on which you can do so are mostly limited to just one. Windows dominates the VR PC landscape right now and that looks set to continue for a while longer. However, Valve will soon move to encourage a diminishing of that monopoly, as it plans to bring SteamVR – the company’s Steam-integrated VR platform – to both Linux and Mac OSX platforms within the next few months.

The initiative was revealed by Valve’s Joe Ludwig during a talk at this year’s developer-focused Steam Dev Days event in Seattle last month. During the talk, Ludwig outlined the company’s view that VR should be as open to innovation as possible, touting the benefits for the long term evolution of virtual reality and how Valve, with OpenVR, are trying to keep what Ludwig calls platform “gatekeepers” from (as they see it) stifling progression in the VR space. Additionally, Ludwig stated that it’s been listening to developer and user feedback during SteamVR‘s first year in consumer hands, and says that they’ve heard clearly that a version of SteamVR is wanted on other operating systems.

Ludwig presented a screenshot (seen at the top of this article) of SteamVR running on Linux (distribution undefined), powered by the open source graphics API Vulkan, in turn powering an HTC Vive VR headset. Ludwig goes on to say that “we’re actively working on support for both OSX and Linux and we hope to get support for both of them into a beta in the next few months.”

Platform Politics: Inside the Oculus and 'Revive' Dilemma

This is news that will likely delight both open source operating system enthusiasts, Apple fans and Windows detractors alike. However, be aware that although even when these SteamVR OSX and Linux betas drop, application support for those operating systems are still limited. The vast majority of applications that integrate SteamVR right now, are rendered using the Microsoft DirectX APIs – these as you might expect are exclusive to Windows operating systems. In order for a game to run on an OS other than Windows, the game needs to support a graphics API, such as OpenGL and its successor Vulkan. Those games are limited in number right now, although Valve’s move to open up the possibilities for companies to offer versions of their titles to run on other platforms, may now encourage others to emerge.

The debate on the relative benefits of open platforms versus proprietary will rage on of course, but if you’re interested in Valve’s view of the VR landscape both now and in the future, take 20 mins to watch Ludwig’s presentation (embedded above) as it clears up some long standing confusion on just how ‘open’ OpenVR and it’s required SteamVR runtime components are.

In the mean time, Oculus have gone on record stating that any plans for Mac OSX support are “on hold” and the company’s founder has voiced vocally his reservations about the platform, namely Apple’s hardware lineup and its ability to meet the demanding rigours of rendering virtual reality applications.

Oculus Founder: Rift Will Support Mac "If they ever release a [high performance] computer"
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Based in the UK, Paul has been immersed in interactive entertainment for the best part of 27 years and has followed advances in gaming with a passionate fervour. His obsession with graphical fidelity over the years has had him branded a ‘graphics whore’ (which he views as the highest compliment) more than once and he holds a particular candle for the dream of the ultimate immersive gaming experience. Having followed and been disappointed by the original VR explosion of the 90s, he then founded to follow the new and exciting prospect of the rebirth of VR in products like the Oculus Rift. Paul joined forces with Ben to help build the new Road to VR in preparation for what he sees as VR’s coming of age over the next few years.
  • DiGiCT Ltd

    They are so right about this, lucky enough we will get finally a competitive VS the closed MS Direxct3d as opengl had its flaws, vulcan might realy going to pull it off now for linux to be a game platform.
    In the early days i bought some software for linux to emulate directx in all kinda ways but it never worked for 100%.
    Linux fits very well to VR open platform out of all 3 of those.
    And besides that Linux nowadays is more easy to install and more user friendly as years ago.

    I’m good with linux for most business important servers and starage solutions, as my background comes from Unix system engineer years ago.
    The problem allways been support for games due to the direct 3d directX story.
    The only reason I use MS s only that certain apps dont run on linux. but also those are slowly moving over to linux, like Autodesk products.

    Open platform is the way to go, to many products never made the market because of closed platforms.

    Oculus… sorry i cant apreciate their aproach although their hardare is fine, its just the way the company sees VR is not the way i like to see it in future, give you customers just lighthouses instead of trying to invent your own camera stuff.
    They are proven to be the best trackers in VR and its hard to see what still could be made better on them.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      It’s BS that many products never made the market due to closed platforms.. Why wouldn’t it make it to the market due to closed platforms? Windows isn’t a closed platform, it’s as open as it can be (yes, the OS itself is mainly closed, but that’s not a problem for 99.9% of the developers as they aren’t OS devs’)..

      I agree with you on oculus just needing to ditch their tracking.. It’s clear most 3rd party hardware developers are gonna go with the lighthouse tracking, so just go with that.. BUT maybe their next ‘inside-out’ tracking is just as good as the lighthouse tracking, then at least for the headset I should say, go for it.. Best for real VR is ‘inside-out’ tracking (with that I mean, no external device for tracking)..

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        I know you might be a MS lover , and yes there is a lot not being manufactured.
        You should just look about how many products did not come to the market because somebody wrote it similar on paper and claims ownership, so the devices could never be completed due to patent issues.
        Also one of those great American inventions….. NOT :)
        Many of those inventions never been used due to the one whom wrote it down claims it to be his and just wait for somebody who makes him rich for patent licenses.
        This is a true fact and i’ve seen this happen to companies many times.

        And I will tell you , MS is a crap company, it always been, since they start stealing ideas from Steve Jobs, they never released a worthy products and even never finished.
        The way they make it is all clumsy, unprofessional and pure and only for the money.
        My background comes from Unix and mainframes , dont tell me MS made something good lol, if its fine for you does not mean it is fine for people like me.
        My company always loses money on IT if it ran on Microsoft, at a certain point i just prevent not to use it. It is literly a noob system the entire Microsoft eco system, only good for people whom have no idea about computers, the ones which easy can be fooled.
        On professional IT deployment locations all the non critical machines are in 99% of the cases not MS, think about army, tax, secret service, multinationals, huge R&D centres.

        I also disagree oculus new approach as its unreliable , you might disagree again but you better bookmark my statement as you will see what i just told you will come back if they would finally sell this device.
        The time for this kind of tracking is simply not there yet, it will take I estimate an other 5 years.
        Valve is right, lighthouses are the way to go as they compare it like wifi routers for wireless internet.
        Bluetooth also tried to replace wifi and as we all know it did not happen.

        Besides all this you should go have a look on Tim Sweeney video from valve dev the same time on youtube.
        Then you understand how it is to have a true open source platform, MS is far away from it. DIrect X never been opened for other, all stuck with crappy openGL instead.
        The reason why we been stuck with many games on a windows machine if you wanted the good graphics.
        I also totally agree with Tim Sweeney’s point of view about it and about how VR should go.
        The reason why MS did not get into VR might just be because they could not claim the ownership over it anymore. :D

        • Andrew Jakobs

          Uhm please get your head out of your ass… Steve Jobs himself Stole most of his ‘ideas’ from others for instance. Uhm, multinationals not using MS? please again get your big fat head out of your ass…
          And Bluetooth was never meant to replace wifi, it was meant as a cheap close proximity wireless option, but in the end the range is pretty good..

          The is no true open source platform… OpenVR for instance is NOT!!! Open source, just like Vulkan is not really open source..
          Open source is not the answer to everything, it’s not better than closed source stuff.. You can use DirectX with out any problems.. DirectX is created in conjunction with the gamingindustry, just like Vulkan has been as a successor to OpenGL..
          Because you come from an unix/mainframe background doesn’t mean you know everything about the business.. It seems more to me like you’re a closeminded person who doesn’t look beyond what he thinks is best.. Yes MS software has it’s flaws, but so does unix (based software).. And if you really think MS software is , only good for people whom have no idea about computers, than YOU ARE someone who does have no idea about computers…

          • DiGiCT Ltd

            I will stop replying to you as it’ s useless. look in the mirror and look at yourself, try to listen to what you say yourself, that you can still believe yourself is quite an prestige, or must i say idiotic ?
            DirectX on linux rofl seriously, I have seen more systems in my life than you for sure, probably when you were still not born i was already working on one.
            But I know people like you, always just a waste of time, thinking to know anything about how it goes, I however travelled all around thw world to deploy business.

            Anyways good luck with your illusion show as trolling and trying to convince me you are right is for sure not going to work.
            The times I need to fly to USA is always to fix the shit they build there in enterpises, so yeah i stick my hands in many asses to solve shit made by others whom talk like you.
            The only reason I still willing to do it as it pays well.
            And then the IT guys speaking mostly india english rofl.
            No , no no your wrong on may occasion or just simply a troll.
            And if you want to make it more personal I would say to you quit drinking and using drugs as your mind will get even more screwed, if that is still possible lol.
            My IQ is measured over 140, i assume yours is like mines divided by 2 and makes you a simple person which think knows something.

            But we are not here to insult people are we ?

            My certifications are all specialist level , if you know what that means, so you telling me i dont know anything just lets me laugh, as at the end customers came to me after they went trough a lot of people like you, and you know what, they are still my customers today for specialist solutions.
            I am not a worker like you, i am however a business owner, founder and cofounder, and most of my time i spend on projects which require people with a mind that can think out of the box, as all those inside the box can not solve those issues.
            You on the other hand read stuff from companies, I however buy resources and do my own R&D, even to verify that what is written is true or not.

            Anyways again, I can understand you as a person but I also disagree a lot on what you say, and insulting people makes it even more showing what level of IQ you belong to.
            Have a nice day.


            Jij woont nog steeds in kikkerland, ik ben er geboren en opgegroeid en blij dat ik dat land heb verlaten.
            Wat kun je nu leren in zon kikkerland, er is bijna niets meer over en vooral geen echte grote bedrijven.
            Spring es in het vliegtuig en reis es over de wereld dan zie je hoe zielig het land is waarin jij nog steeds leeft.
            De stad waarin ik woon is groter als het land waarin jij woont en werkt, en het land waarin ik leef is goter als america en europa.
            Je bent een echte grapjas met geen benul van zaken.
            Dat jij zelfs nog tijd hebt om films te kijken, nou nou druk wereldje leef jij in , ik werk 18 uur per dag 7 dagen per week, mischien is dat wel de reden dat ik meer heb gedaan in me leven in vergelijking met jouw.

    • DM

      Not everyone loves the disruptive nature of the Lighthouses actually. Saying Oculus are poor because you dont like the Constellation trackers is like telling me Ford are poor because Honda use some better tyres.

      Both HTC and Oculus “invented their own stuff” and both have pro’s and con’s.

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        So what’s the cons about lighthouse in your opinion?
        Ehm sorry to say but camera based led tracking is already old tech, oculus only improved it but not invented it.
        They are however right that at the end CG based tracking would be the solution, but we are far away from that to be usable, again this is also not their invention.
        Lighthouse however uses a lasergrid tranking via laser swipes, which is a total new way of tracking in the way it is working.
        Lighthouses are small and easy to mount if you use the correct mount equipment for it.
        I am also thinking about how far a rift tracker can still be very accurate, what is the distance ?
        Lighthouses are 4 M but some say 5m, even though they are already working on a newer version for next year, which will cover a much larger area. This is needed as HTC is going to open more than 100 arcade rooms in wheere tracking on larger as 5 m will be openeing much more fun VR content, for at home ofcourse this is not a critical point.
        Im more looking at it at higher end VR usage rather then at home users, as there is where you more easy can see the better solutions.
        End consumers can easy go for less, but in business they want to go for the best afterall.

  • PrymeFactor

    Linux support would be great. Hardware support is there in the Linux space.

    Mac OSX support is just bullshit PR. No way any dev has been asking for support when there’s no Mac hardware capable of running the Vive.

    Strange that the same week Valve says they won’t lower system requirements below the 970, they’re also putting out this PR shit where they’d need to significantly lower requirements just to get it to work on an Mac hardware (The highest end 2016 MacBook pros ship with a 1.9tf GPU).

    • Smoochie

      Sounds like you are dependent on Unity. The Mac can handle the graphics fine!

      • PrymeFactor

        Highest end iMac has an Intel iris Pro 6200
        Highest end MacBook Pro ships with a weak sauce 1.8tf GPU

        The Mac Pro is years old now and it’s GPU also falls well short of the required Gtx 970 for the Vive.

        Unless you’re running a hackintosh, SteamVR is only useful on Mac if you’ve got one of the obsolete headsets.

        This is just a PR move from Valve.

        • Smoochie

          The Mac CPU’s could also handle it. Again, it sounds like you are dependent on some huge crock of a game engine, whatever it is…

          • PrymeFactor

            Sorry, this discussion is about the GPU, not the CPU.

          • Smoochie

            Look at the VRTest code at the top of the article. You could run that on a 10 year old GPU fine, that is, unless you were were locked into using some middleman’s bloatware. I predict they will change the minimum spec for the upcoming platforms.

        • The Mac Pro in crossfire gives 7 teraflops of power. A single GTX 980 Ti gives 5.6 teraflops of raw grunt. So, if crossfire can work in VR then the Mac Pro is more than capable.

          • PrymeFactor

            A the D700 in the Mac Pro is slower than the GTX 960. In dual configuration, it’ll probably be at best as fast as a 970…but that’s when it works!

            This config could barely drive a Dk2 properly, and will definitely choke at the higher res CV1 or Vive options.

            It’s a non-issue.

          • Tex, I disagree, if Affinity Multi GPU for VR on AMD finally appears then Crossfire VR on the D700’s will hit the top end indicator on the Steam VR Test. A single card could drive a DK2 fine, I know as I have one and originally designed for it hitting max refresh. Without Crossfire it will not handle CV1/Vive agreed but with Crossfire handling each eye (different tech) then it will be up there against a GTX 980 Ti.

    • Justin

      The few of us with hackintoshes will be delighted though; some well in the ballpark of recommended specs.

    • I used VR on my Mac Pro when DK2 supported it. It was actually OK. Now that other techniques are available for reducing GPU demand it becomes more viable again. I also use Latest Crimson drivers with Vulkan support on my Mac Pro which runs games like Black Ops 3 on full quality at max fps (that my monitor can do) using crossfire. Granted that is Bootcamp but it goes to show some of the hardware is quite capable at the low end of VR.

      But then again, much to my angst, Apple constantly shun gamers on their desktop platforms. Daft really as their mobile platforms produce the most income for games on the App Store. You would think this would motivate them.

  • RipVoid

    Bravo Valve, bravo! I would love to see VR on Linux get traction.

    • DiGiCT Ltd

      For sure we will port them all over to linux too, although Mac would be a problem as we set our minimum requirement to a GTX 1060 instead of GTX 970.
      Hopefully apple will make some higher end 3d systems for it too.