Trying The SteamVR Beta On Linux Feels More Like An Early Alpha
That's where things stand today after spending the past three days setting up the HTC Vive with SteamVR on Linux. The initial setup was certainly a headache and letdown with the problems encountered and knowing I am not the only one running into shared IPC compositor errors and other struggles. That certainly made it feel much more like an alpha than beta and cannot imagine a Windows gamer being willing to go through such strides. Even with being a dedicated Linux user for about the past decade and a half, I was frustrated and embarrassed by these initial SteamVR Linux woes being encountered on Linux in 2017.
At least switching to Ubuntu 16.04 was a quick and easy workaround, but I imagine most Linux gamers aren't too willing to just wipe their system and start over with not having the luxury of multiple test systems. But hopefully Valve will be able to address all of these initial SteamVR Linux bugs in a timely manner.
Then past the initial setup challenges, there are certainly improvements to make when it comes to the Linux VR experience with various issues around performance, delayed tracking, etc. Just take a look at the issues area for an idea of current struggles faced by VR Linux gamers.
Things at least with the Core i7 7700K + GeForce GTX 1080 box were largely pleasant, but it will be interesting to see how my tests of other drivers/GPUs go over today and the days ahead.
While I am confident in Valve's abilities to address these early Linux bugs, the real question for the success of Linux VR will be about the game selection as we move forward in the months ahead. With VR gaming appearing to be less than a 1% stake right now and the overall Linux gaming marketshare itself only being around that volume, the number of VR Linux gamers is incredibly tiny and that probably won't change so soon with the VR headsets like the HTC Vive retailing for around $800 USD. So unless we see more game studios make use of Vulkan for rendering on Windows and the Khronos industry VR standard efforts really take hold, I am concerned about the number of virtual reality games that will be ported to Linux and done so in a performant and reliable manner.
Stay tuned for more Linux VR testing, driver / GPU comparisons, and other articles on Phoronix in the days ahead. If you appreciate all of the Linux hardware testing done by your's truly 365 days per year, consider joining Phoronix Premium to show your support.
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