Trying The SteamVR Beta On Linux Feels More Like An Early Alpha

Written by Michael Larabel in Linux Gaming on 26 February 2017. Page 7 of 8. 23 Comments

Playing With SteamVR (HTC Vive) On Linux

After configuring the HTC Vive via the SteamVR app, the first "game" tested was Valve's Destinations. With the VR headset I found it to be a bit blurry but was able to adjust it using the main refinement knob as well as a "hidden" knob on the left side of the headset underneath the strap attachment.

Getting used to the two Vive controllers was initially a bit of a nuisance but just with time was overcome.

Besides the initial setup woes, Linux driver limitations, etc, there were also some remaining nuisances with SteamVR on Linux. The performance still leaves room for improvement and according to some early Linux VR gamers is worse than Windows. Even with my initial testing being done on a GeForce GTX 1080 and Core i7 7700K, at times there was lag / missed frames. But keep in mind this is less than a one week old beta and should be improved in the weeks/months ahead. There were also nuisances of needing to manually configure the audio on Linux to allow it to work with the HTC Vive ear buds, etc. Just mentioning that while it's easy for Linux enthusiasts to manage, these are more steps that Windows gamers would probably not expect.

All of these initial impressions were with the GeForce GTX 1080 while in the follow-up articles will be tests with other NVIDIA GPUs and then Radeon hardware with RADV.

The Destinations game was fun for getting acquainted with VR on Linux. My wife had a lot of fun with this game. She enjoyed the VR experience, but was a bit let down that it didn't feel more "life like" and that she wasn't 100% pleased with the video quality that even after tweaking the headset she thought at times it still felt a bit blurry, etc. She had a good time with the HTC Vive while playing Destinations but began losing interest when there were quality/performance oopses along the way.

I only tried Dota 2 for a few minutes so far as those types of games generally don't interest me.

For not being a "gamer" in a number of years now largely due to lack of time, I did have a LOT of fun with Serious Sam VR: The First Encounter. That was actually a really nice experience though as time went on there were also a few slowdowns / delayed tracking issues that were only very brief, but again, the entire Linux VR stack and this Linux port are considered beta. I had a lot of fun with Serious Sam VR and look forward to trying it out on the other NVIDIA/AMD GPUs for a genuinely fun testing session. The Serious Sam VR experience made me realize a lot of potential for the future of gaming with VR, but first the costs must come down significantly for VR devices as well as further enhancing the quality of the experience.

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